IP04 and the Asterisk Appliance

A few people have asked me to compare the IP04 and the Digium Asterisk Appliance (AA).

  1. The architecture is very similar, a Blackfin connected to Silicon Labs line interface chips. For the record, both were developed by independent teams. BTW the hardware design is not rocket science – just plugging chips together. Most of the work is done by the uClinux and Asterisk software.
  2. The IP04 hardware design is open (free as in speech). Anyone is welcome to manufacture, sell, modify, improve. It has been developed by a community, for community reasons. The AA hardware design is closed.
  3. You are welcome to use the IP04 for non-Asterisk applications, for example Freeswitch, Yate, SER, Bayonne, Callweaver. It could even be used as a substitute for a PCI line interface card, e.g. a Ethernet channel bank.
  4. The IP04 uses Oslec software echo cancellation, the AA an Octasic hardware chip. The AA echo cancellation hardware adds $50 approx to the BOM (which translates to $150-$200 more on the street price) and is, well, closed. However it arguably has higher performance (at least today), and off loads cycles from the Blackfin. However we have plenty of spare cycles (like 90%) so why not do the echo cancellation in software for zero cost?
  5. The IP04 uses the BF532 rather than BF537. The BF537 is faster, has more on board RAM, and a built-in MAC. The BF532 is cheaper and can be hand loaded (important for a hackable design). This isn’t a significant difference in low density analog systems, as the CPU load is small.
  6. The Asterisk Appliance has WAN and LAN Ethernet ports (with a 4 port VLAN), the IP04 a single Ethernet port.
  7. There are some technical differences, for example the IP04 uses single port rather than 4 port modules, 256M on-board flash compared to 8M on the AA, the AA has a CF slot, the IP04 a MMC slot. The IP04 can be expanded to 8/12/etc ports, so no big differences in density.
  8. Both designs are beta at this stage, with no production hardware in general use. The current development hardware for the AA has a minimum retail of $2195.00. A Free telephony Project kit costs around $530 (starter kit STAMP motherboard). The suggested retail (AFAIK) for the AA will be $1000, the IP04 $400 (and falling).

Stop Press

I have just discovered a new entry to the Embedded Asterisk “Appliance” space, the TechnoCo Vdex 40. This Australian product has 4 FXO ports, uses a multiple ARM/DSP processor architecture and is sampling for US$695, with street price still TBD. Nice product guys – well done.

Stop Stop Press

Another Blackfin based Asterisk Appliance/IP04 type product has appeared, the Magiclink Asterisk Appliance. This looks similar in design to the AA and IP04, however has USB and CF ports. Quantity 100 pricing for 4 FXO ports is a low $299, which is great news. Good work Magiclink.

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10 thoughts on “IP04 and the Asterisk Appliance”

  1. Hi David,

    you might want to list the D-Link HorstBox Professional (DVA-G3342SB) among the Asterisk-based appliances, for this little nice box provides a full featured IAD with FXS/FXO, ISDN and an embedded Asterisk on an Intel Xscale platform (includes a BlackFin DSP).

  2. Thanks Foschi,

    I did some Googling but couldn’t find much about this box in English. Can you point me at a site please?

    Thanks,

    David

  3. @David: please try this link for a product site (German only): http://www.dlink.de/?go=jN7uAYLx/oIJaWVUDLYZU93ygJVYLelXSNvhLPG3yV3oVox7haltbNlwaaRp7jgrHT2onGQTo48EBtfkzKHiK0oRtevRboE=

    and also ftp://ftp.dlink.de/dva/dva-g3342sb/documentation

    for some documents in English.

    AFAIK the Asterisk box is targeted to Europe bc of ISDN ports.

    There is a free development kit to build your own firmware available (a live dvd running kubuntu and including all files neccessary to compile firmware) at

    ftp://ftp.dlink.de/dva/dva-g3342sb/driver_software/Developer_DVDV2_5_ISO.zip

    There are also some people who have startet porting openwrt to this plattform at http://www.ip-phone-forum.de/forumdisplay.php?f=590 (we do speak English…).

  4. I think the best price for IP-PBX should be 300$ maximum, so that guys like me would be able to resale it. I don’t like d-link pbx because it does not support IAX which seems to be important for my type of customers

  5. How many IP04’s/IP08’s can you stack together? I’ve been googling around for this but couldn’t find an answer?

  6. There is no explicit mechanism for stacking. However they are Asterisk boxes, so you can connect them via SIP or IAX and make them look like one big PBX.

  7. In “Building an Embedded Asterisk PBX Part 2” you have a picture of two daughterboards stacked one on top of the other. Can I do this using the DIY kits? With one Blackfin motherboard, how many daughterboards+modules do you think it can handle?

  8. Eight ports total seems to be the limit at present, for example the IP08 product we are working on. Possible more with further software optimisation. But it kinda depends on what the PBX is doing, echo cancellation and codecs consume the most MIPs.

  9. Yep, if the IP04 came down to $300 for resellers, I could see these devices really take off huge. We have sold/supported just about every small PBX device available, but nothing beats the flexability of Asterisk.

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