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Asterisk on the Soekris net5501
The net5501 is the newest board from Soekris Engineering. Performance tests are still being conducted, but it looks to be more than twice as fast as the net48xx series of boards. A beta (compiled from trunk) AstLinux image with support for this hardware is available http://admin.star2star.com/astlinux/AstLinux-trunk1095-net5501.img.gz.
2007-07-20 from Graham Freeman:
I've been running AskoziaPBX (Asterisk 1.4) on a Soekris net5501 (500MHz, 512MB RAM, 32MB CF) for a few days now. The CPU barely hits 5% when I have two concurrent calls. I'm an Asterisk newbie, so YMMV. -Graham
Asterisk on the Soekris net4801
Soekris Engineering makes some great embedded boards designed to run Linux or BSD. The most powerful board they currently make is the net4801 which contains a 586 class NSC SC1100 266 MHz processor. It also includes 128 MB of RAM, three 10/100 LAN interfaces, a Mini-PCI type III slot, a 3.3V PCI slot, a Compact Flash slot, and a Ultra-DMA 33 2.5 inch hard drive interface. The case that is available with the net4801 supports a low profile PCI card.
Unfortunately, testing on both Linux and BSD from different users has concluded that while it is possible to get a T1 card working with Asterisk on the net4801, there is not enough CPU power to go around for more than 2-5 channels of simultaneous voice calls. The only useful purpose for running Asterisk on a net4801 right now seems to be a small solid-state asterisk box capable of SIP/IAX traffic only, but without transcoding of course.
2004-10-01 from Bryan Vyhmeister:
I have been running Asterisk on the Soekris net4801 for several months now. It runs surprisingly well. I have been running five or six Cisco SIP phones using g711ulaw and several IAX2 clients on the net4801 along with a TDM04B. I have recently changed out that configuration for a T100P card. The TDM04B card cannot fit into the case provided by Soekris Engineering but the T100P and X100P cards fit very nicely. I had to do manual cutouts in the case but everything else went smoothly. I am currently running tests on a net4801 with the T100P card to see how well it performs. Obviously, transcoding should be avoided. I have been very, very impressed with the capabilities of this tiny box. All of the net4801 units I am using contain a Toshiba 20 GB 4200 RPM laptop hard drive. I would not recommend Compact Flash for most configurations.
I have been running Slackware Linux on one but I have been happiest with CRUX Linux running the 2.6 kernel. My current config is CRUX i586 2.0 with Linux 18.104.22.168 and Asterisk 1.0-stable (v1-0 CVS tag). Patches are required to get Linux running optimally. These are available from this site. If you are interested in more information or want to work on using the net4801 or other Soekris boxes please drop me an email.
2004-10-04 Update from Bryan Vyhmeister:
Preliminary testing shows that Linux 22.214.171.124 and most likely other versions of the Linux kernel have trouble supporting VLANs on the three LAN interfaces. Adding a VLAN causes the load to spike tremendously. The workaround is to use different ports. I have one of my net4801 boxes setup with VLAN 1 (public network) on LAN 0 and VLAN 2 (voice network) on LAN 1.
2004-11-15 Update from Bryan Vyhmeister:
My previous comment about VLAN issues with 126.96.36.199 was an issue with the kernel, not the LAN interfaces themselves. That bug was fixed in Linux kernel 2.6.9. I have had some issues with the RTP stream behaving incorrectly when using VLANs so I would recommend not using VLANs especially since you have three LAN interfaces on a net4801. Preliminary testing shows that the T100P card is too interrupt heavy for the net4801. I am going to test the Sangoma A101U and A102U cards and see if they work better with the net4801.
2004-11-24 Update from Bryan Vyhmeister:
The Sangoma A101U card works great with the net4801. Right now it is running a PRI with about a dozen SIP phones. I am using ulaw as the codec for all the phones. So far it is running very nicely. I will be continuing to test this setup and will report back on its performance.
2005-05-20 Update from jason (at) wiz.biz
Running asterisk with the TE110P on FreeBSD 5.4 with the zaptel driver on my net4801 was fun. Unfortunately, there was only enough CPU to go around for about 2 voice channels... even an idle PRI card with no active voice conversation boxes was using 30% interrupt cpu. Lowering the kernel HZ setting from 1000 to 50 helped a bit, but not enough to get enough another channel.... I'm going to try the same card next with Linux, and then maybe the Sangoma card with the Astlinux distro.... I think the FreeBSD zaptel driver has a long way to go in terms of cpu effeciency.
2005-06-06 Update from Bryan Vyhmeister:
After additional testing, it seems that the Soekris net4801 is not powerful enough to deal with a PRI or T1 properly even with just one or two channels active along with a half dozen SIP phones. Even though several calls can come through, crackling starts to appear in the audio. I am going to continue testing the net4801 as a call processor only without any telephony interface cards.
- AstLinux: Custom Asterisk distro for the Net4801 or Pentium-MMX+ machines
- http://www.soekris.com/: The Soekris Engineering Site
- http://www.sk-tech.net/support/soekris.html: Patches for Linux and the net4801
- http://crux.nu/: CRUX Linux (i586 for net4801)
- Metrix Communication: Provides Soekris Based Asterisk Kit, with support for configuration as well
- http://www.cortexsystems.net/: For users in Europe and surrounding countries, you can order your Soekris from Cortex Systems
- http://soekris.kd85.com/: For European users, you may order your Soekris from kd85.com
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