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Access Servers - New Features and Restrictions - The Inside Scoop

By Chris Bricker  posted November 29th, 2011 at 4:11PM EST

The Cisco AS5 Access Servers line have been the standard of data, voice, video, and fax gateways for years. Whether used for origination, termination, transcoding, or with SS7 (Cisco PGW Systems), the various AS5X gateway (AS5300/AS5350/AS5400) series servers continues to provide industry-leading value. While that isn't changing, developments by Cisco means more thought is needed in choosing both hardware and software.

This is - first - because of Cisco's new PVDM2 DSP hardware, which can be used only in the newest 'XM' gateways, and only with certain IOS versions. Second, IOS 15 has licensing changes. For those needing only the voice/data/fax features found up through IOS 12.4, access server decisions can be made on the basis of the relative merits of the hardware. However, if current IOS or current generation hardware modules or specific features are needed, the choices need more careful thought out.

What's the Difference?

Model Comparison

Model DSP Architecture Size Expansion PRIs Ports IOS Ends
AS5300 Carrier+DSP 2U 3 Slots 4 / 8* 120 / 240* 12.3
AS5350 Integrated 1U 3 Slots 8 216 12.4
AS5400 Integrated 2U 7 Slots 16 / DS3 640 / 350** 12.3
AS5400HPX Integrated 2U 7 Slots 16 / DS3 640 / 480** 12.4
AS5350XM Integrated 1U 3 Slots 8 / DS3 324 Not Ended
Carrier+DSP 1U 3 Slots 16 / DS3 640 Not Ended
AS5400XM Integrated 2U 7 Slots 16 / DS3 640 Not Ended
Carrier+DSP 2U 7 Slots 20 / DS3 640 Not Ended
* Voice / Data capacity. The AS5300 may be configured for Voice OR Data, but not both.
** Maximum / CPU Limited. Exceeding the CPU Limited density will likely reduce call quality.

DSP Component Overview

The AS5300 line employs up to 2x AS53-CC-VOX Voice or 2x AS53-CC-VOX Data carrier cards. Each voice carrier card supports up to 5x AS53-VOXD DSP Chips, and each data carrier card supports up to 10x 12DMM DSP Chips. The AS53-VOXD and 12DMM chips provide processing for up to 12 ports each.

The AS5350, AS5400, and AS5400HPX lines employ a mixture of PRI Cards in an E1 (AS54-DFC-2CE1, AS54-DFC-4CE1, AS54-DFC-8CE1), T1 (AS54-DFC-2CT1, AS54-DFC-4CT1, AS54-DFC-8CT1) or DS3 (AS54-DFC-CT3) configuration, along with a combination of AS54-DFC-60NP and AS54-DFC-108NP. Note that while there are model-specific version of each of these expansion cards, they are actually identical. For example, the model AS54-DFC-108NP is actually identical to AS535-DFC-108NP.

While the AS5350XM and AS5400XM can utilize the same expansion cards as noted in their non-xm counterparts above, they also support a new DSP Architecture with a combination of AS5X-FC carrier cards, and PVDM2-64 DSP chips. This new architecture allows for a greater port density within the same 3-slot or 7-slot space, which in makes way for the use of high complexity codecs. The XM series also support new XML and Video codecs, plus narrowband. Cisco has stated that future IOS releases will drop support for the older integrated DSP architecture.

We're Here to Help

If you need assistance in deciding, of course, that's what we're here for - and hopefully earn your business as well! ISPTrader has been one of the leading, and the main stocking, vendor of all AS5X models - most are in stock and ready to ship.