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Hybrid backplane eases migration from cPCI to CPCIe

Posted: 16 May 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:hybrid backplane? CompactPCI Express? CPCIe PCIe?

MEN Micro Inc. has developed a family of CPU boards and I/O cards for a hybrid configuration that is said to significantly simplify the migration path from 3U CompactPCI (cPCI) to CompactPCIe (CPCIe). Developed in conjunction with electronic packaging products manufacturer Schroff, the solution incorporates a unique Schroff backplane together with MEN Micro's CPCIe extension board, XMC carrier board and scalable Intel product family.

The system combines the high serial data rates of CPCIe while preserving compatibility with existing cPCI systems, making it suitable for applications that require complex communication and powerful visualization, as well as digital and analog signal processing. This hybrid configuration eliminates the need for software re-writes and new software for serial link connections, and also helps save costs by enabling the Express function to be used only where high data rates are required such as in high-end graphics and Ethernet functions, said MEN Micro.

The 8-slot hybrid Schroff backplane does not need a bridge or active logic. Four slots are designed for 32bit cPCI and rear I/O on the P2 connector, along with four slots reserved for cPCIe. The four-link, dual CPCIe system slot is situated in the middle of the backplane. Three peripheral CPCIe slots can each be accessed with 4 links x1 lane. Meanwhile, two of the peripheral slots are accessed with 1 link x1 and a third slot is accessed with 2 links x1.

The F602 cPCI side card serves as the system-slot SBC in a CPCIe system for I/O extension. The side card, which is equipped with XJ2 and XJ3 connectors, supports four PCIe links with one lane each and is connected to the CPU card via a connector. Moreover, it offers a USB, a COM and a DVI connector and can be equipped with a SATA hard disk.

The F14, F15 and F17 SBCs, suited for use with the F602 in this new system, offer a wide range of performance from the Intel Core 2 Duo with a 64bit architecture and multi-core technology to the extremely low-power Pentium M and Celeron M variants with a frequency range of 1GHz to more than 2GHz.

The PCIe lanes, which are not needed for the CPCIe extension, are used for the GbE ports on the SBC. The CPU boards, which offer typical PC functions like SATA, USB and graphics, are equipped with up to 4Gbyte DDR2 RAM and CompactFlash or alternatively with a PATA hard disk. In this configuration, three additional slots on both the cPCI bus and CPCIe bus are available.

Conventional I/O, including binary and analog signals, are connected to the parallel (cPCI) bus, as its data rates make it suitable for measuring and data pre-processing systems in instrumentation applications, as well as for imaging systems in industrial control and automation.

The serial (CPCIe) bus is best suited for functions like GbE, 10GbE or high-end graphics with high data rate requirements, said MEN Micro. It works in conjunction with the F700 XMC carrier board, which enables easy integration of mezzanine modules.

A sample configuration for a full CPCIe system based on a Core Duo SBC (F15) and the CPCIe side card (F602) is proced at $5,300. Delivery is six weeks ARO.

- Gina Roos

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