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PCI A/D board stores 16 billion samples

Posted: 03 Feb 2006 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Alex Mendelsohn?

A speedy PCI bus plug-in that has unprecedented storage depth has been introduced by Ultraview Corp. The AD8-1500DMA data acquisition board permits uninterrupted acquisition of ultralong bursts of wideband spectra. The board exhibits about an order of magnitude deeper storage than other available boards, according to Ultraview. It's capable of continuous acquisition at up to 1.5GS/s and stores up to 16 billion samples of uninterrupted analog data.

The combination of storage speed and memory depth 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, nuclear magnetic resonance imaging, and MRI development. The AD8-1500DMA boards can be socketed in 64bit workstations, industrial PCs and servers. Ultraview recommends the Dell Precision 670 workstations running 64bit Linux or Sun Microsystems workstations running Solaris.

A field-customizable Xilinx Inc. XC2VP30 FPGA is the heart of the digital-processing section. The FPGA can be loaded with the included Ultraview data acquisition firmware or with custom firmware.

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

There is a small trade-off for all of this performance: The board requires the space of two 64bit PCI slots. Designed for high-speed, low-jitter operation, the externally triggerable board can also operate with an internal or external clock with any frequency from 10MHz to 1,500MHz. The board's 50-ohm clock input accepts sine or square waves.

Selectable pre- and post-trigger settings enable continuous data acquisition. 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 board via 50-ohm SMA connectors. The inputs accept full-scale amplitudes of plus/minus 350mV. The 50-ohm trigger input can accept either PECL/ECL or TTL/CMOS logic levels.

The architecture uses eight standard 2GB double data-rate dual-in-line memory modules. The DIMM arrays give users ultradeep gigahertz-speed signal recording for less than $14,000. A lower-cost 8GB version is also available.

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

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

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. For current Ultraview users, the common interface provides a smooth path for upgrading to higher-speed applications.

The supplied interface allows users to write software for 64bit PCI bus Intel, AMD and Sun Sparc platforms running Red Hat Enterprise Linux or Sun Solaris 9 or Solaris 10.

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

- Alex Mendelsohn

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