Giacomo Bagnoli, "Design and development of a mechanism for low-latency real time audio processing on Linux"

Audio on personal computers, and thus in the Linux kernel too, started with
simple hardware support 16 bit stereo, half-duplex pulse code modulation
(PCM) and it has grown to multi-channel mixed analog-digital I/O, high sam-
ple rate design of current sound cards. As hardware became more powerful,
supporting higher sample rate, higher sample width, digital I/O over S/PDIF
or AES/EBU1 , more complex usage pattern became possible, growing from
relatively simple MIDI2 wavetables or MOD playback to digital multi-track

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