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PCI bus A/D board gobbles data at a whopping 1.5GS/s

Posted: 09 Jan 2006 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Alex Mendelsohn? PCI bus plug-in? Ultraview? AD8-1500DMA?

PCI bus plug-in

The new PCI bus plug-in from Ultraview Corp. permits uninterrupted acquisition of ultra-long bursts of wideband spectra. Capable of continuous acquisition at up to 1,500MS/s (1.5GS/s), and storing up to 16-billion samples of uninterrupted analog data, it's not an overstatement to say that Ultraview's AD8-1500DMA offers extreme memory depth (record length) and storage speed.

The combo of speed and memory may engender new classes of continuous intelligence gathering, medical imaging, and single-shot testing applications. Typical applications include wideband surveillance, radar, sonar, microwave component testing and characterization, and NMR/MRI (nuclear magnetic resonance imaging) development.

The AD8-1500DMA boards can be socketed in 64-bit workstations, industrial PCs and servers. Ultraview recommends the Dell Precision 670 workstations running 64-bit Linux, or Sun Microsystems workstations running Solaris.

FPGA processing
A field customizable Xilinx XC2VP30 FPGA (field programmable gate array) is the heart of the digital processing section of the AD8-1500DMA. The FPGA can either be loaded with included Ultraview data acquisition firmware, or with your own custom firmware.

While it's acquiring a long stream of data into its 16GB on-board memory, the board's 64bit 66MHz PCI DMA (direct access memory) engine can concurrently transfer data from on-board memory to the PCI host. It does this at over 300MBps, supporting uninterrupted acquisition and analysis of gigabytes of wideband analog data.

There is a small tradeoff for all of this performance, and that is that the board requires the space of two 64bit PCI slots. Designed for high-speed low-jitter operation, the externally triggerable AD8-1500DMA can also operate with an internal or external clock with any frequency from 10MHz to 1,500MHz. The board's 50? clock input accepts either a sinewave or square wave, having an amplitude of 0 to 3dBm.

On-the-fly triggering
Selectable pre-trigger and post-trigger settings enable the board to continuously acquire data; then upon a software trigger, the board can be programmed to retain, for example, the 11GB of data that occurred prior to the trigger, while subsequently acquiring 5GB after the trigger.

Input signals are fed into the AD8-1500 DMA via 50? SMA connectors. The inputs accept full-scale amplitudes of 350mV. The 50? trigger input can accept either PECL/ECL or TTL/CMOS logic levels.

The AD8-1500DMA's low-cost architecture uses eight standard 2GB DDR DIMMs (double data-rate dual-in-line memory modules). These DIMM arrays give you ultra-deep gigahertz-speed signal recording for under $14,000.

Continuous sampling
Incoming A/D samples are automatically stored in the on-board RAM. This RAM array can be simultaneously transferred to host RAM for access by a system CPU or disk I/O system. That supports continuous sampling of up to many gigabytes of analog data.

Included software, with source written in C, permits waveforms to be either displayed or continuously stored to system memory or disk. Any mix of pre-trigger and post-trigger recording can also be specified.

Multi-board synchronization
Thanks to precise internal and external clock and trigger circuitry, a group of AD8-1500DMA boards can also be time-locked to a common clock. That supports acquisition in tandem, for multi-channel data recording.

An AD8X2BRDG package provides the necessary cabling, software, and clock and trigger signal splitters for dual-board (2-channel) and four board (4-channel) multi-channel simultaneous sampling applications.

Common user interface
The single-channel and dual-channel A/D boards also have a similar interface to that of Ultraview's predecessor AD8-1250DMA and AD8-650x2DMA boards. If you're already an Ultraview user, the common interface provides a smooth path for upgrading to higher speed applications.

The supplied interface also lets you write your own software for 64-bit PCI bus Intel, Advanced Micro Devices and Sun SPARC platforms running RedHat Enterprise Linux or Sun Solaris 9 or Solaris 10.

The single-unit price for the AD8-1500DMA-16GB is about $16,000, while the lower memory AD8-1500DMA-8GB version is priced at about $12,000. These prices include drivers and sample C programs for Linux and Solaris 8 and Solaris 9 UNIX. Pricing for the optional dual-board bridging package is $995. Delivery is from stock.

- Alex Mendelsohn

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