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New high-speed recorder boards plug into CompactPCI slots

Posted: 07 Jul 2005 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:vmetro? vme? pci bus analyzer? data recorder? pmc i/o controller?

Comes with several ready-to-run appsA Norwegian company with United States offices, VMETRO Inc. now lays claim to being the world's largest maker of VME and PCI bus analyzers. The company also offers a bevy of realtime data recorders, PMC I/O controllers and modules for realtime data processing, signal acquisition and networking. Most recently, VMETRO merged with England's Transtech DSP Ltd, a move that added signal processing products to its line-up.

The company's new pre-configured and programmable VORTEX CompactPCI recorders, available in both commercial and extended temperature range and ruggedized versions, operate under either Windows or Linux OS platforms. As such, they're easily embedded and lend themselves to rapid development. The product is, however, also available with realtime OS support, for RTOSes such as such as VxWorks.

In use, these instruments (and other VMETRO recorders), use arrays of disk drives for storage, providing as much as terabytes of capacity. Disks can be cost-effective JBODs (just a bunch of disks), or RAID (redundant array of independent disks) units.

According to VMETRO spokesperson Nicole Renfro, most folks go with JBOD, as disk are very reliable these days, and can be a cost-effective component in a CompactPCI cardcage. However, if you do go with RAID, it ensures redundancy in case of disk failure. That's something that's sometimes demanded in high-rel recording applications, such as military or aerospace systems.

Beyond that, VMETRO's PCI wares can be used with switched fabric networks, and SAN (storage area networks). That can abet large-scale recording and systems using dynamically linked multiple recorders, storage units, and analysis stations.

A deterministic file system
To make it all play smoothly, VMETRO supplies a realtime deterministic file system. The file system supports disk grouping (treating several disks as a single virtual device) and striping (spreading data across multiple disks in realtime).

VMETRO points out that striping data can deliver better performance in very high-speed applications. It distributes data on several drives at once, resulting in much higher transfer rates to storage devices than possible with a single disk.

Also, the disk grouping system is plug-and-play, as the recorder keeps the disk group information on all the drives. The disk group will be automatically re-constructed when moved to another host or recorder regardless of which order the drives are installed.

A Web-based GUI
For control and data access, the Vortex uses a Web-based GUI (graphical user interface) or the XML-RPC (eXtensible Markup Language-Remote Procedure Call) protocol. To speed up access to recorded data, a dedicated FibreChannel link can be used between a workstation and your storage system. VMETRO supplies a SAN access kit for that purpose.

The Vortex CompactPCI also comes with several ready-to-run applications. For example, it has two PMC positions, and on-board support for PICMG 2.16 (Packet Switched Backplane) and PICMG 2.17 (StarFabric connection). The hardware also has either a 2Gbps Fibre Channel or Gigabit Ethernet port. Notably, all of these hooks can be used without sacrificing any PMC sites.

Other applications and functions are available, too. These include FPDP (Front Panel data Port) and FPDP II interfaces, as well as Serial FPDP. Functions include a unified control system for managing multiple recording channels, and a so-called quick-look function for monitoring actual signals during recording. You can also do stream-chaining to direct high-speed data streams to several destinations.

If you're involved with realtime data recording or data acquisition such as that in surveillance, signal intelligence, telemetry, semiconductor test, or medical imaging, check out VMETRO's COTS (commercial off-the-shelf) recorders.

Pricing depends on throughput and configurations, and ranges from about $15,000 for an entry-level system, to over $30,000 for a full-tilt high-speed configuration.

- Alex Mendelsohn

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