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I've downloaded an Intel HD Graphics driver for my Dell laptop and the installer's welcome screen says it will install the following components:

  • Intel Graphics Driver
  • Intel Display Audio Driver

What exactly is "display audio"? Dell's and Lenovo's pages are spectacularly unhelpful.

  • 13
    In a cooler world, it would somehow turn your screen into a speaker. – armani Mar 18 '15 at 22:25
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    @armani in fact it does turn your screen into a speaker, that's exactly what it's for – Spc_555 Mar 19 '15 at 8:38
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    I'm not sure if you're joking (like I was). I meant like the glass of the screen would vibrate to produce sound waves. – armani Mar 19 '15 at 15:44
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    Ahh... where's the comment that said Beethoven's 5th symphony looks like this: |        | (may only show properly with display audio drivers installed)? – Dan Dascalescu Mar 19 '15 at 20:56
55

HDMI and DisplayPort are capable of transmitting audio as well as video.

So, to Windows, it looks like an additional soundcard appears on your system, for which a driver is needed. So if you connect a monitor on the other end of your HDMI or DisplayPort and it can play sound, you can send sound to that monitor by selecting "Intel Display Audio" or similar as your audio device.

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  • 6
    I'm not sure what makes me love technology more, the fact the reason for this wasn't written down anywhere until now, or the fact drivers are lying to Windows as a part of normal functioning. – Pharap Mar 19 '15 at 6:56
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    DVI-D can transmit audio as well – Spc_555 Mar 19 '15 at 8:39
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    I don't see how this constitutes lying: it's an audio device. If you plug it in it will play sound. – pjc50 Mar 19 '15 at 15:06
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    @VasilyAlexeev DVI itself doesn't carry audio (by spec.). From my understanding, some source devices (video cards mainly) do output HDMI audio out their DVI port, but it's for use with a DVI->HDMI adapter to interface with an HDMI display. – Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007 Mar 19 '15 at 15:41
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    Note that while "Intel Display Audio" or something like that is its default name, when connected to a display it should show the name of the display (monitor or TV) when you go to select it as an audio output device. – Ross Ridge Mar 19 '15 at 23:53
11

It's for sending audio through the video adapter, for use with video interfaces that support it (like HDMI and DisplayPort).

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5

Some display interfaces, like HDMI and DisplayPort, can carry audio along with video. This audio stream might get played back by your monitor's internal speakers or you might send it to a dedicated "audio receiver", that strips off the audio signal, sends it out via e. g. S/PDIF, analog RCA or even digital (AES/EBU) or analog XLR.

In fact, both HDMI and DisplayPort can even carry a lot more than video and audio. HDMI can carry Ethernet at 100 Mbit/sec. DisplayPort has a powerful "auxiliary data channel" that can carry arbitrary binary data at a rate of currently 780 Mbit/sec, but that is certainly gonna increase in further iterations.

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