New Product: Software House Mega ControllerBy Brian Rhodes, Published on Sep 18, 2014
Software House's new controller, iStar Ultra, doubles the number of doors typically supported, from the commonplace 16 to a rare 32.
In this note, we examine the design of the offering, its upside, limitations, pricing and positioning.
Ultra joins Software House's proprietary line of door controllers for its C-Cure Access Management Platform. iStar controllers are network based units that support higher end features like smart cards, CAC, hard anti-passback, and integrations with intrusion and fire alarm systems.
Ultra is a large unit, available either as a ~2'x2' wall mount enclosure or a 2U and 4U rack mount:
32 Readers, 16 Hardwire, 16 Wireless
Though Ultra supports a very high reader count, it is limited to 16 hard-wired doors maximum, with support for an additional 16 Aperio based wireless locks connected through two serial connected hubs.
Wireless access control, though still a niche, has expanding rapidly over the past few years (see IPVM wireless access stats). The most broadly adopted wireless lock is Aperio from Assa Abbloy's wireless offering. Others include Allegion (Schlage [link no longer available]) and Salto.
A likely use case of the Ultra unit is to add on doors / openings that were previously uncontrolled and cost prohibitive for a wireline deployment. For background, see: To learn more about wireless access, see our WiFi & Wireless Access Lock Guide.
Pricing for Ultra ranges between ~$6,800 for rack mount or $8,500 for wall mounted versions.
Compared to the 16 reader Pro version, iStar Ultra is listed about 6% more for wall mount, but ~10% less for rack mount, which allows C-Cure customers to add 16 additional control points for about the same cost.
Direct Power Everything
Unlike many controllers that require separate power supplies for connected items like strikes, maglocks, or readers, Ultra claims to add power supply and distribution into the main unit. Ultra's spec sheet lists two power supplies at either 12 or 24 VDC voltages, up to a max of 24 amps per panel.
Software House says Ultra's output contacts are sufficient to directly power 'continuous duty' locking devices like maglocks, an uncommon claim.
Even among C-Cure systems, Ultra likely will be applicable only to large facilities. Bigger is not typically needed in access, with most integrators reporting Average Access Control Job Size between 12 - 14 doors, with almost 30% falling in the 4 - 8 door range. For most customers, a 16/32 door controller would be a waste.
However, for large systems, Ultra could offering savings over Pro series, not only by requiring fewer controllers, but also simplifying power supply design and installation by directly powering all equipment hung on the door.
We believe that this reflects the growing acceptance of wireless access control and the desire to make its integration smoother and tighter. Though access control management systems typically require add-on modules for wireless access, we see this as a sign of where the industry is heading.