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CompactPCI Pentium board uses FPGA-configurable I/O

Posted: 09 Jun 2005 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:men micro? fpga? sbc? single-board computer? cpci?

Germany-based board maker MEN Micro has a new board-level product that makes use of the easy reconfigurability of an FPGA (field programmable gate array). For embedded industrial applications, MEN Micro's new 3U-sized SBC (single-board computer) plugs into cPCI (compact pci) bus systems.

The board combines low-voltage Intel Pentium III microprocessors with an extended operating temperature range. What's more, an efficient heatsink and thermal management system makes possible fan-less installations.

Dubbed the F11, this SBC can function as a single-slot cPCI system master, or as a standalone system. Pentium III or Celeron chips offer a range of performance options from 400MHz clocking to 933MHz.

FPGA-configurable I/O

The F11's I/O is very configurable because of an on-board Altera Cyclone FPGA. A range of ready-to-use functional cores for I/O interfaces are available for the FPGA from MEN Micro, as well as other sources. Instead of expanding a system's I/O by adding cPCI cards or by mounting mezzanine cards on carrier cards, additional I/O can be implemented by loading the functional cores for the required I/O into the FPGA.

The FPGA I/O can be brought out to the board's front panel by way of the line drivers provided on MEN's so-called SA (serial adapter) modules. After adding these modules, the F11 can take up from two to seven slots in a cPCI card cage.

In addition to AC97-compliant audio, or extra USB 1.1 (Universal Serial Bus) ports, SA modules and functional cores for the FPGA are also available for I/O for embedded applications such as interfaces for CAN (Controller Area Network), a touchscreen controller, and digital I/O, to name a few. The configuration of the FPGA on the F11 is loaded from flash when a system is powered up. Updates to the configuration of the FPGA can also be made while the system is operational, and are available when the system is powered down and re-started.

Peripheral resources

The F11 also comes with an assortment of on-board resources, which is reflected in the block diagram. These resources include two Fast Ethernet interfaces, and two RS-232 serial interfaces. These are be accessed at the front panel by way of RJ-45 connectors (D-subminiature connectors are an option).

In addition, the F11 has two USB ports, a VGA or UXGA graphics port, and a keyboard/mouse interface; all are on the board's front panel.

Additional I/O supported at the rear of the F11 includes four PXI trigger lines, an IDE port, a serial communications channel, a third USB port, and a PS/2 interface.

Configurable memory, too

The F11's onboard memory is configurable, with up to 512MB of SO-DIMM accommodated. There's also a CompactFlash socket, and a slot is available for a 2.5-inch hard disk. The board also packs an Award industrial BIOS. The BIOS supports the FPGA and operations without graphics, as well as Ethernet booting over a backplane, and other functions.

MEN Micro says its F11 is available now. Pricing starts at about $1,200 for single units.

- Alex Mendelsohn


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