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A/D converter board boosts signal bandwidth

Posted: 20 May 2005 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:a/d converter board? data acquisition? wideband radar?

Pentek customers can now boost signal bandwidth by nearly an order of magnitude with the release of the Model 6826 VME A/D Converter board. The Model 6826 features single- or dual-channel data acquisition at a blazing 2GHz samples/second with 10bit resolution using the new Atmel AT84AS008 A/D device. The board's ability to accept either single-ended or differential inputs preserves signal integrity across a variety of analog signal sources.

"For our customers, this product opens up a whole new range of previously unavailable frequencies and applications," said Rodger Hosking, vice president of Pentek, Inc. "It allows them to directly digitize signal bandwidths up to nearly 900MHz, so they can capture wideband radar and communication signals as a single channel instead of digitizing several smaller bandwidth slices. The inclusion of the Virtex-II Pro FPGA is essential for processing these large bandwidth signals to extract information and reduce the data rates to a manageable level within the


"We are pleased Pentek has chosen Atmel's new 10bit 2.2GHz A/D chip for their new Model 6826," said Ron Duda, North America marketing manager for Atmel's Hi-Rel product line. "The AT84AS008 combines dynamic performance, compactness and ease-of-use, allowing improved

system-development speed on Pentek's high-performance VME board."

On-board signal processing

With a density equivalent of more than 11 million system gates, the Xilinx XC2VP100 Virtex-II Pro FPGA offers a powerful signal-processing resource for the formidable stream of data from the A/D converters. On-board logic first de-multiplexes the 2GHz raw 10bit A/D samples by a factor of eight, producing 80bit words at a reduced rate of 250MHz for successful delivery into the FPGA. The FPGA then performs various standard functions on the data, including memory transfers, formatting, triggering, gating and delivery to FPDP and VMEbus interfaces. It also handles the switched serial fabric VXS interface using the on-chip RocketIO gigabit serial transceivers.

Since most of the logic and DSP resources remain unused for these factory functions, developers can take advantage of these parallel processing structures to implement custom signal-processing algorithms and process captured data in real time. To simplify FPGA development tasks, Pentek offers its GateFlow FPGA Resources, including the GateFlow FPGA Design Kit, GateFlow IP Cores Libraries and GateFlow Factory Installed IP Cores. In addition, Pentek's ReadyFlow libraries allow the user to control the Model 6826 across the backplane from SBC and DSP boards through high-level C-callable commands.

Extensive memory supports transient capture, buffering

The Model 6826 also features extensive memory resources. Dual 64bit high-speed DDR SDRAMs provide a total of 512MB or 1GB of memory to store raw data in transient-capture mode. The memory can also be used as an elastic buffer for storing burst signals like radar pulses in real time and subsequent delivery to the I/O interfaces at a lower continuous rate. Custom FPGA configurations can take advantage of this large memory for more complex applications. Flash memory of 16MB allows boot code storage for the two IBM 405 PowerPC micro-controller cores within the FPGA.

Wideband output interface options

To support high-bandwidth data capture, the board includes several high-speed I/O channels to move the raw data off-board for storage or processing. Two or four channels of FPDP-II data ports, operating at up to 400MBps each, deliver processed and de-multiplexed data through legacy connections to other VME cards. In addition, the board offers two serial switched-fabric VXS connections, each running full-duplex at 1.25GBps to support the new Xilinx Aurora, Serial RapidIO and PCI Express protocols. LVDS I/O is also available on either front or rear panel connections.

The single-channel version of the Model 6826 starts at $19,345, with availability starting at 14 to 16 weeks ARO.

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