Originally Posted by Loedown
With no on board sound generation hardware it can be nothing but sample based, the only difference being that you need to program the sound as a series of numbers versus using an ADC to do exactly the same thing.
There's plenty of sound generation hardware. DACs, PWM volume control, mixing voices together to form a stereo pair, pitch control registers, FM and AM modulation options -- this is all part of the sound generation hardware.
The only thing not in hardware is the waveform itself -- and that's a good thing!
A sample is a measurement of a signal. If the waveform comes from measuring a signal and storing samples into a memory then that's sample-based synthesis. If that waveform is derived analytically, then it isn't a sample. It's another form of synthesis -- wavetable synthesis.