Prototype IP08

This week I have been working on one of the first Atcom IP08s, an 8 port version of the popular IP04 Embedded Asterisk IP-PBX. The IP08 combines the BlackfinOne and two 4fx designs onto a single board the same size as the IP04.

Features include:

  • Dual port modules that are the same size as the regular single port modules. The guys at Atcom have used a clever layout so that single or dual port modules can be used and automatically detected and configured.
  • Dual Ethernet ports.
  • USB. This is pretty cool. I have some ideas about combining this with wireless USB keys to create a tiny, low power wireless VOIP PBX.
  • MMC slot for up to 4GB storage. Thanks to Alex Tao, we can now run MMC cards and Zaptel hardware at the same time.
  • 64MByte SDRAM.
  • 256MByte Flash.

So far we have brought up most of the IP08 hardware. The 8 analog ports are working, as well as new features like USB and both Ethernet ports. Compared to earlier designs I have blogged on, the IP08 bring-up was kinda boring – the open hardware approach we are taking means that everything “just works”!

To make life more interesting I have been using the new Blackfin Asterisk Package System (baps). This is a package based system (like apt-get) for the Blackfin. So basically I flash a small kernel/root file system then boot the IP08. Then, to install Zaptel/Asterisk, telnet into the IP08 and:
ip08$ ipkg install zaptel-sport
ip08$ ipkg install asterisk
ip08$ /etc/init.d/zaptel start
ip08$ /etc/init.d/asterisk start

Baps is an itch I am scratching – I couldn’t help thinking there was a better way to develop and maintain embedded systems than the buildroot/uClinux-dist approach of building “one big uImage”. More on baps in another post.

Some work remains:

  • Further optimisation of the wcfxs driver and Oslec echo canceller so the system can comfortably support 8 analog channels at the same time.
  • Testing the dual Ethernet and USB ports in realistic scenarios, for example WAN/LAN QoS routing and maybe a USB wireless interface.
  • Repeat of the load tests that were performed on the IP04 to give the system a good work out.

How much and when you all ask? The price of the IP08 is yet to be decided, however I am sure it will be competitive with other Asterisk Appliance type products out there. I would guess that the IP08 will be available for purchase around March 2008.

You can follow our IP08 progress by monitoring the IP08.txt task list file in IP04/IP08 SVN.

Links

IP04 Open Hardware IP-PBX
Survey of Asterisk Appliance type products
IP04/IP08 Hardware SVN
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15 thoughts on “Prototype IP08”

  1. Hello David,

    I’ve been looking at the revision 1 IP08 Schematic and I have a few questions…

    1) On page 2 of the schematic, U7 (The NAND Flash Chip) has an off page connector “NANDCE” which shows a reference back to page 1. I can find no “NANDCE” Connector or net on page 1. What is this supposed to connect to?

    2) Why the change to LM1117 Regulators for each two port module? IP04 Used the 3.3V Power available from the switcher.. Why the change?

    Thanks for your time!
    Bill

  2. Hi Bill,

    1/ The other end of NANDCE is on page 5, and connects to the CPLD.

    2/ There was quite a bit of noise audible on the FXS modules which we traced to the 3V3 supply rail (see Building an Embedded Asterisk PBX Part 4), these regulators clean up that noise. The later IP04s also have this mod. Another way is to use a series inductor with the 3V3 rail to each module.

    Cheers,

    David

  3. David,

    Thanks so much for the response. I did see NANDCE on page 5, but the annotated reference to page 1 made me wonder… especially since NANDCE on page 5 also references page 1 :)

    Hope the testing of the IP08 is going well… I’m planning on using a great deal of the schematic and software for a project in rural India that a partner company is working on. Cheap communication is still difficult to find in a great deal of India, and this might help to change that.

    Thanks for your contributions to the community,
    Bill

  4. Hello David,

    Any news on availability of production IP08 hardware? I was looking to use an IP04 to provide an integrated telephony & intercom system for a new house we are building, but may need more than the 4 FXO/FXS ports that it provides. You did mention that you might have something available around now, but I won’t actually be implementing for another six months or so – I’m really looking forward to using such a sweet system.

    Martin

  5. Hi Martin,

    AFAIK Atcom haven’t started making the IP08’s commercially just yet. Perhaps email Edwin at Atcom re availability of the production hardware. I am currently doing some testing/optimisation work on the pre production IP08 software.

    Cheers,

    David

  6. Hi David

    I see Atcom now have the IP08 listed on their website. Does that mean it’s available here in Oz now? It does look to be exactly what I’m looking for (I’m just about to abandon a long drive and horrendous rent to set up an office at home for a small business).

  7. Nice work David,
    I am keenly interested in this business model… so far no response from you by email. Give me a shout when you have a chance.
    Cheers
    Maurice(at)flexrev.com

  8. Hi, David,

    We are considering using IP08 or FX08 in our 8 FXO PBX project but don’t know which one is the best choice. IP08’s hardware BOM is lower than FX08 since the use of BF532 400MHz not the BF533 600MHz. My concern is if IP08 can handle concurrent 8 FXO traffic without problems? All other hardware designs seem quite identical. But EdgePBX’s FX08 price seems more attractive. Thanks for excellent posting. I enjoy it very much.

    Yue

  9. Hi Yue,

    The CPU load depends on what you are running at the time, for example codecs. I haven’t tested a FX08 so it’s hard for me to answer your question. Maybe buy a sample of each and test it out with your application code.

    The biggest issue with IP0X CPU load in general is the cache thrashing you get due to 1ms Zaptel interrupts and running a large application like Asterisk. When I tested 500MHz BF537 versus 400MHz BF532 one year ago I found no difference in performance for running Asterisk with g729, so it’s not as straight forward as buying the fastest CPU.

    – David

  10. Hi David,

    Thanks for good information. Can IP08 support 128MB SDRAM? ATCOM’s IP08 version only comes with 64MB. I checked the schematic and it can support two 64MB SDRAM modules. Is IP08 still 2 layer PCB design? Any issues with supporting 128MB with 2 layer PCB? Thanks.

    Yue

    1. Sort off. The scematic is available and its very code to the IP04. It doesn’t used 4FX modules, but dual port modules. They are nearly the same as the reference silicon labs FXS module designs.

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