Speech Providers Standardizing on PCI Express

Cantata Technology and Dialogic are among the first speech application providers to offer solutions that are capable of running on the new PCI Express platform, an ultra- high-speed server from Intel.

Cantata released new PCI Express-compatible versions of its Brooktrout fax and voice products, granting customers access to faster data transfer speeds. This applies to itst Brooktrout TruFax,,Brooktrout TR1034, and Brooktrout TR1000 family of speech and media processing boards that support speech, IVR, unified messaging, and conferencing applications. Those applications are currently available in analog formats, but Cantata is working on analog and digital configurations.

"What's happening in the server marketplace is that the server manufacturers are moving away from PCI toward PCI Express. What it provides the server manufacturers is greater speed to the cards, so we are driven to support PCI Express so that we will be able to operate in cutting-edge servers. It is more a necessity because that is what the server manufacturers are doing," explains Jeff Sieoff, senior director of product management at Cantata Technology.

While the PCI Express doesn't offer concrete benefits such as increasing speed by 10 times, it does provide opportunities to enhance the cards for speech processing boards. "This gives us the opportunity to update the technology on the cards and reduce power. It is not connected directly to PCI Express, but connected to the opportunity to update the design. We can reduce power in the cards and improve performance in other areas," Sieoff states. "We have more connection speed than we had in the past, but it wasn't really a bottleneck before."

Dialogic also released three media boards for PCI Express slots: DMV300BTEPEQ, DMV600BTEPEQ, and DMV1200BTEPEQ. The DM boards provide a universal port solution and a media feature set that includes voice processing, speech recognition, fax, and conferencing capabilities. The boards also expand the voice resources, allow for all- conference configuration, and increase the speed of media and call control capabilities. All of the PCI-compatible media boards feature universal media loads, improved media densities, mixable protocols, and various conferencing media loads. These new boards enable Dialogic's telecom equipment manufacturers and enterprise customers to deploy newer model and mixed slot chassis with the PCI Express form factor.

"OEM computer manufacturers are changing the backplane to PCI Express. Our customers have come to us over the past couple of years to understand where the OEM roadmaps are going and the PCI slots are disappearing, so to enable our customers globally to proceed forward in terms of the latest and greatest offerings from PC OEMs, we need to offer PCI Express back to them," says Bill Bryant, director of marketing at Dialogic.

"If you look at the PCI spec, there is definite enhancement to that specification. The basic driver here that you would find from the industry is that the PC OEMs are driving this standard forward," Bryant asserts. "There is increased bandwidth opportunity and there are other factors that enable technology to move forward."

"Although investment strategy is shifting away from the most powerful hardware and towards the most productive software, the overall performance of a solution is still heavily dictated by hardware resources," says Daniel Hong, lead analyst at Datamonitor. "Software-centric speech solutions that utilize off-the-shelf servers are gaining traction in the market and investment in more flexible server systems is growing in importance. The PCI Express standard provides more flexibility on the hardware level, and as a result, better long-term investment protection."  

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