Zapata Technology -- Design Philosophy
The Zapata Technology is based upon the concept that computer hardware is now fast enough to handle all processing for computer telephony applications, including that which was traditionally limited to DSP's and embedded controllers.
DSP's are optimized for signal processing applications and functions, and do so far more efficiently then traditional general-purpose processors, such as those found in PC's and standard computer systems. Despite their serious advantage in these types of applications, they have many logistical deficiencies that often make their use far out of reach of the common mortal. These deficiencies include entirely proprietary architectures, both hardware and software, requiring specialized knowledge and experience, not to mention extremely specialized (and way way expensive) development hardware and software. As a result, the use of DSP's has become limited to environments where the extreme expense of the requirements of their use (both development environment and personnel/expertise, and in some cases the DSP parts themselves) can be recovered.
Unfortunately, what this also does, is completely discourage the open-source concept in any of these technologies, since it would be impossible to recover high costs, and even if source code for DSP's was made available,very few could afford the equipment necessary to develop it.
The Zapata Technology is an attempt to address these issues. Even the simplest personal computers are quite fast these days. Even if DSP-style processing is only possible in an inefficient manner (on this type of architecture), and bus-I/O is HORRIBLY SLOW (for example, on a 48 port system with the Tormenta ISA card, a 550Mhz Pentuim-III system spends OVER 1/3 of its time halted, waiting for bus-I/O to complete), there still is plenty of time for applications to run and operate in a reasonable manner. Certainly it is a horrible waste of processor time, but it would certainly appear the the serious advantages of this approach outweigh the wastes. Besides, processors are getting faster all the time. As a result, the waste and inherent architectural inefficiencies will become less of an issue over time. In addition, a PCI version of the card will also help this a great deal.
The truly beautiful part of this technology is that since all processing takes place within the main CPU(s), there is absolutely minimal hardware necessary (just enough to make the T-1 data accessible via the bus), keeping costs to an absolutely unprecedented minimum (various commercial solutions list at about $10,000.00 US, give or take a couple thousand. The Tormenta ISA card used to cost $275.00 US when we were selling it directly). In addition, it allows all development issues to be put in the hands of literally anyone inclined to do so. It requires no specialized development environment or knowledge, being merely yet another driver and library, just like all the ones for other types of hardware. The Tormenta ISA card contains entirely off-the-shelf available parts, none of which require programming, thus allowing for construction by anyone (you don't have to buy it from us).
Zapata Project Status
Zapata Technology Project Information
Tormenta ISA PC Card, Rev. A schematics and board artworks
With the exception of items protected by the GNU General Public License (which are clearly indicated as such), the technologies, software, hardware, designs, drawings, schematics, board layouts and/or artwork, concepts, methodologies (including the use of all of these, and that which is derived from the use of all of these), all other intellectual properties contained herein, and all intellectual property rights have been and shall continue to be expressly for the benefit of all mankind, and are perpetually placed in the public domain, and may be used, copied, and/or modified by anyone, in any manner, for any legal purpose, without restriction.