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Mind Share

December 1999


Marc Robins The Ones That Almost Got Away

BY MARC ROBINS


INTERNET TELEPHONY EXPO™ was a great learning experience not only for the few thousand attendees who came to soak up some knowledge (and a little sun) at the beautiful Hotel del Coronado, but also for this associate group publisher. I discovered a number of innovative products and solutions that I’d like to share with you — some of which slipped under my radar screen…well, almost.

MORE IP PHONE GOODIES
In last month’s Mind Share column, I wrote about the new crop of IP phone DSP-based building blocks being developed to help speed up the time-to-market for such devices. I believe the opportunity for these new phone sets will be quite big — especially as the DSL and cable modem access markets take off, and enterprise users start to snatch up IP-enabled phone system gear. Here are a couple of additional products (both Internet Telephony Expo Best of Show award winners by the way, see page 48) that promise to make a sizeable impact in this area.

8x8’s IP Telephone On A Chip
The Audacity-T2 IP Telephone Processor from 8x8 combines all of the digital processing circuitry required for a full-function, multi-line IP telephone on a single chip. 8x8 also provides OEMs with all of the control protocol stacks and audio codecs required for IP telephony systems, including H.323 v2, Media Gateway Control Protocol (MGCP), Session Initiation Protocol (SIP), G.711, G.723.1, G.726 and G.729a. The T2 Processor can run two simultaneous calls using any of the supported codecs while executing full-duplex echo cancellation algorithms and a control protocol stack. The audio codec and control protocol software supplied by 8x8 was specifically written for Internet “appliance” applications rather than PCs, enabling high performance and allowing for a small memory footprint compared to solutions originally targeted at PCs and PSTN gateways.

The T2 Processor is built around 8x8’s MIPS-X5 unified RISC CPU/DSP engine, which is designed to run both compiled ‘C’ code and DSP algorithms efficiently. In addition to the CPU/DSP engine, the T2 Processor incorporates a 32-channel DMA engine and a non-blocking crosspoint switch with 6.4 gigabytes per second of cross-sectional memory bandwidth to ensure optimal system performance. Sufficient on-chip memory is provided to eliminate the need for external RAM when running any supported communication protocol or codec.

The Audacity-T2 Processor also incorporates dual Ethernet Media Access Controllers (MACs) — one for connecting to a network, and one for connecting to a computer. The inclusion of MAC functionality allows an IP telephone to serve as a two-channel layer-2 Ethernet switch, eliminating the need for two Ethernet connections to the desktop. This switch facility can be programmed to give priority to audio packets, buffering data packets to and from the attached PC, thus controlling quality of service (QoS). The MACs are full duplex and support both 10 and 100 Mbps data rates.

To eliminate the need for expensive glue logic, the T2 Processor connects directly to network physical layer chips, keypads, and character display devices. Two TDM (time division multiplexed) ports provide multi-channel synchronous interfaces for audio data, permitting connection to a telephone handset, or a microphone and speaker (for speakerphone implementations).

More salient details: The T2 Processor is packaged in a 176-pin, thin quad flat package (TQFP). The chip is manufactured in a 0.18-micron, 1.8-volt CMOS process with 3.3-volt interfaces. The chip dissipates an estimated 0.25 watts in full operation.

To help OEMs get to market quickly, 8x8 has developed a complete IP phone development kit. The kit includes two fully operable IP feature phone prototypes, a developer’s version of 8x8’s IntraSwitch IP-PBX server software, and all of the documentation required to build the phones (schematic, bill of materials, etc.). To allow developers to easily customize and differentiate their products, 8x8 provides source code for the user interface and device drivers, as well as a complete development environment, including a compiler, a debugger, and diagnostic software. The resulting package includes everything, from the chip to the software tools, needed to quickly and easily bring cost-effective, high-quality IP phones to market.

Samples of the Audacity-T2 IP Telephone Processor (ask for part number 8x84700), as well as software development tools and IP telephone design examples, are available as I’m typing. The T2 Processor is priced at $15 in 100,000-unit volumes (hear that TI and Lucent?)

Tundo’s FREE IP Phone Software Offer And Distributed Open Telephony Operating System
We’re talking open, embedded software for IP phones from an aggressive new player in the “open network telephony system” arena, and best of all, the price is right. Tundo Corporation, pronounced “Tun-doo” and based in Cambridge, MA, is giving away a royalty-free version of The Tundo Distributed Open Telephony Client (or DOT-Client). The DOT-Client software is a key component of Tundo’s Network Telephony System. It provides the client intelligence of the Tundo Telport, which is an intelligent telephony client device. The Tundo Telport connects today’s standard telephones directly to an Ethernet network, converting voice information to IP packets.

This offer from Tundo complements the recent announcement of the DOT-OS — Tundo’s new Distributed Open Telephony Operating System. Tundo DOT-OS is a patented framework that delivers extremely high system capacity and the ability to develop and deploy new applications, with the high level of reliability and fault tolerance required by mission-critical business operations. DOT-OS, according to Tundo, can scale beyond 100,000 users per server, and allows Tundo gear to integrate with legacy voice systems and best of breed applications to leverage an existing telecommunications investment while providing a smooth evolution to IP telephony. The system is available for enterprise customer deployments as well as providing a service delivery platform for the new breed of network service providers. Initial applications for DOT-OS target communications intensive operations, such as call centers and financial services, reliant on the real-time mission-critical interaction of voice calls and related data. The Tundo solution has been tested at a number of beta sites, including the Boston Stock Exchange, where the system has been operational since June.

The Tundo design uses open standards such as H.323, H.450, HTTP, CSTA, and SNMP to support components from multiple vendors, system interworking, and applications integration. This gives customers and developers a great deal of flexibility in creating solutions that can build on customers’ existing legacy telecom infrastructure and IP networks to lower operating costs and increase functionality. As the system is designed to support open standards such as H.323 and MGCP, customers can make use of gateways, endpoints, and phones from other standards-compliant vendors. As a supporter of open interworking, Tundo is also a member of the iNOW! Interoperability Initiative.

The underlying capabilities delivered by the new telephony operating system include:

  • Tundo DOT-Server — a patented software platform utilizing distributed servers for mission-critical applications. Running on Windows NT, the server supports standard voice telephony features as well as new capabilities enabled by packet networks.
  • Tundo DOT-FrameWork — a software development environment that allows developers to easily integrate existing voice applications (including ACD, IVR, and voice mail) and new native network-based applications with the Tundo DOT-OS. With the DOT-Framework, developers can now confidently design mission-critical, fault tolerant telephony applications.

On the hardware side, the Tundo Network Telephony System (NTS) is a complete IP-PBX, consisting of the Tundo DOT-OS and the following components:

  • Tundo TelPort — intelligent telephone access device to connect standard telephones and headsets to the IP network via an Ethernet interface.
  • Tundo JPhone — an optional Java PC-based application that simulates a ‘smart’ telephone, which associates a user’s PC with a selected phone and headset.
  • Tundo Conference Unit — a multipoint processor which supports conferences among four or more callers.
  • Tundo Gateway — enables voice applications to interface with existing circuit-switched PBXs and public telephony networks via analog or channeled E1/T1 digital lines.

Marc Robins is Associate Group Publisher for INTERNET TELEPHONY AND CTI magazines. His column, Mind Share, appears monthly in the pages of INTERNET TELEPHONY magazine. Marc looks forward to your feedback.







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