Pentek Unveils Software Radio Front-End Modules with Virtex-II Pro FPGAs

7/27/2004 - Pentek, Inc., the industry pioneer of VME board-level technology, released a high-performance, software radio front-end with two 105 MHz 14-bit A/D converters and two user-configurable Virtex-II Pro FPGAs. This VIM-2 module targets compute-intensive engines found in applications such as real-time wideband processing, radar and wireless. Up to two Model 6256’s can be mounted on Pentek’s VIM baseboards featuring Texas Instruments C6000s or Motorola’s G4 PowerPCs while maintaining a single slot configuration. This single-slot, dual 6256 combination boasts four A/D channels and an unprecedented 24 million FPGA gates.

This module offers a unique second slot option to increase the number of A/D channels up to eight without the need of an additional baseboard. This second slot option not only saves the user development dollars, but also delivers optimum data throughput, processing and system efficiencies. In addition, the Model 6256 can be easily combined with a multitude of compatible COTS PMC and VIM I/O modules including high-speed A/Ds, D/As, digital upconverters, digital down converters and various digital I/O modules such as FPDP-II.

“The Model 6256 extends the processing power and gate density of our most popular board—the Model 6236—by as much as four times the horsepower. By boosting the base system to four A/D channels with the power of the Virtex-II Pro FPGAs, we offer our customers the highest-density board in the industry,” notes Rodger Hosking, vice president of Pentek. “Plus, the 6256 system configurations are extremely flexible, allowing two to eight A/D channels and 12 to 24 million FPGA gates depending on the needs of the user. This allows customers to pay only for what they need in their system.”

Model 6256 also provides a performance boost for Pentek’s RTS Development Platforms. New systems are soon to be released.

Ultimate Synchronization Capabilities
For large multichannel beamforming systems, Pentek’s Model 9190 Timing Generator drives up to eighty 6256 modules, totaling 320 A/D channels, to share common clocking and synchronization signals for simultaneous capture and signal processing.

Unique FPGA Technical Advances
Featuring Xilinx Virtex-II Pro Model XC2VP20 and XC2VP50 FPGAs, the Model 6256 includes factory-installed functions for data formatting, channel selection, timing and triggering with ample room for custom-configurations or off-the-shelf FPGA algorithms.

The Model 6256 includes 84 interconnects between the two FPGAs to boost internal data communications. The module also supports dedicated FPGA paths from each A/D pair to allow for more efficient and faster processing.

Model 6256 FPGAs are each equipped with 64 MB SDRAM, connected with separate address and data buses, allowing independent access from each FPGA. This SDRAM supports digital delay and transient data capture functions, critical for many real-time applications such as signal intelligence tracking receivers. In addition, 16 MB of FLASH memory is attached to each FPGA to handle boot and program code for the internal PowerPC processors.

The FPGA outputs connect directly through the VIM (Velocity Interface Mezzanine) to the 32-bit synchronous FIFO on the VIM processor board where it is buffered for efficient block transfers.

Optional FPGA Enhancements
Pentek’s GateFlow FPGA Design Kit streamlines custom FPGA development tasks to take advantage of the generous FPGA resources available in the Virtex-II Pro devices. Ideal for customer implementation of signal processing functions such as convolution, framing, pattern recognition and decompression, the design kit includes VHDL source code for all board interfaces, project files and utilities so the developer can easily implement his algorithm.

GateFlow Installed Cores feature Pentek's streamlined FFTs (Fast Fourier Transform), digital receivers and pulse compression algorithms. These specialized functions save development time and offer highly optimized, ready-to-use solutions. For example, using proprietary block memory architecture, the GateFlow FFT executes a pipelined complex 4k-point radix-4 FFT in less than 10 usec, which is four times the real-time rate. A 1k-point version of the FFT is also available. Since these GateFlow FFT execution speeds are more than ten times faster than an optimized FFT algorithm running on a 500 MHz G4 PowerPC, they can offload these tasks from the processor to dramatically slash system costs.

Development Tools for a Variety of Platforms
Pentek's ReadyFlow Board Support Library is comprised of C-callable device functions that simplify board operation and setup. Functions include mezzanine board control, DMA data transfers, data formatting, and interrupt resource management. Pentek also offers device drivers for Linux.

Third-party and Pentek software development tools are available for a variety of platforms including Windows, Linux, and Solaris.

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