Valve has revealed that Steam's voice chat system now implements the SILK audio codec, developed and primarily used by VoIP software Skype.
An update to the Steam client automatically brings this technology to all Steam games that take advantage of the Steamworks Voice API, and "provides a significant quality improvement over Steam's previous voice technology, at the cost of some increase in bandwidth usage", according to a Steam news post
"As of today's Steam client update, voice chat using SILK is available to all users of Steam" said Valve. It explained, "voice chat connectivity and reliability have also been improved with this release."
It is also noted that, "Steam Voice used to require 15 kbps of bandwidth, whereas SILK is a dynamic bit rate protocol which varies in its use of bandwidth between 8 and 30 kbps, depending on the range of data in the voice signal and current network conditions."
Valve's upcoming first-person puzzler Portal 2
, set to be released next month, will use the newly updated Steam voice chat in its online cooperative game mode.
Portal 2 is set to feature
cross-platform chat between the PC and PS3 versions of the game, along with cloud-based storage of PS3 save games -- the first time that PC-derived Steam functionality will appear on any home console.