Pentek Packs FPGA Processing Power into Software Radio Transceiver

1/18/2005 - Pentek, Inc., the industry pioneer of VME board-level technology, released a complete software radio transceiver module suitable for connection to IF or RF ports of a communication system. The Model 7140 PMC module combines both transmit and receive capabilities with a high-performance Virtex II-Pro field-programmable gate array (FPGA) and supports the emerging VITA 42 XMC standard with optional switched-fabric interfaces for high-speed I/O. This module is also available in a variety of form factors including PCI, 3U and 6U cPCI and a PMC conduction-cooled version.

The front end of the module accepts two +4 dBm full-scale analog RF inputs and transformer-couples them into 14-bit A/D converters running at 80 or 105 MHz. The digitized output signals pass to a Virtex-II Pro FPGA for signal processing or routing to other module resources. These resources include a quad digital downconverter, a digital upconverter with dual D/A converters, 512 MB DDR SDRAM delay memory and the PCI bus. The FPGA also serves as a control and status engine with data and programming interfaces to each of the on-board resources. Factory-installed FPGA functions include data multiplexing, channel selection, data packing, gating, triggering and SDRAM memory control.

Because the FPGA controls the data flow within the module and provides signal processing as well, the module can be configured for many different functions. In addition to acting as a simple transceiver, the module can perform user-defined DSP functions on the baseband signals using Pentek's GateFlow and ReadyFlow development tools. These functions can include demodulation/modulation, decoding/encoding, decryption/encryption, digital delay and channelization of the signals between reception and transmission.

"This board is ideal for developers requiring complete transceiver functions in a compact module, such as military radios and commercial wireless," says Rodger Hosking, Pentek's vice president. "This board has a unique combination of functions with two receive and two transmit channels, all the power of the FPGA in between and XMC for high-speed I/O--perfect for software radio, signals intelligence (SIGINT) and Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) applications."

Digital Up/Down Converters
The module includes a Texas Instruments' (TI) Graychip GC4016 quad digital downconverter along with a TI DAC5686 digital upconverter with dual D/A converters. Each channel in the downconverter can be set with an independent tuning frequency and bandwidth. Channels may also be combined to increase bandwidth up to 10 MHz. The upconverter translates a real or complex baseband signal to any IF center frequency from DC to 160 MHz and can deliver real or complex (I+Q) analog outputs through its two 16-bit D/A converters. The digital upconverter can be bypassed for two interpolated D/A outputs with sampling rates to 500 MHz.

Inputs to the downconverter can come from many sources, including the input A/D converters, the FPGA signal processing engines, an SDRAM delay memory or data sources on the PCI bus. The built-in clock/sync bus supports multi-module synchronization as well as dual on-board oscillators for independent input and output clock rates. Further, the Model 7140 is also one of the first to offer the VITA 42 XMC interface. This allows it to transfer data through optional Serial RapidIO, PCI-Express or other switched-fabric interfaces, providing a high-speed streaming data path independent of the PCI bus.

Synchronization Capabilities
A clock/sync bus allows synchronization of local oscillator phase, frequency switching, decimating filter phase and data collection among multiple Model 7140s. One board acts as a master, driving clock, sync and gate signals out to a front-panel flat cable bus using Low Voltage Differential Signaling (LVDS). The master alone can drive as many as seven slaves. By using a Pentek Model 9190 Clock and Sync Generator to drive the signals, up to 80 boards can be configured to operate synchronously.

Development Tools for a Variety of Platforms
The GateFlow FPGA Design Kit provides designers with all VHSIC Hardware Description Language (VHDL) source code and device configuration for the basic factory-installed functions to facilitate the addition of custom algorithms. Also available are Pentek's GateFlow IP Cores, including wideband digital receivers, Fast Fourier Transform (FFT) and pulse-compression algorithms.

Pentek's ReadyFlow Board Support Libraries of C-callable device functions for the processor platform are supplied with all I/O modules. Board operation and set-up is simplified through easy-to-use function calls and it still provides the flexibility and power of low-level access to all of the board's hardware. Pentek support libraries, device drivers and software development tools, plus third-party offerings, are all available for a variety of platforms, including PCs running Windows 2000/XP or Linux and PowerPCs running VxWorks, Linux or eCos (an open-source real-time operating system).

Pricing and Availability
The Model 7140 PMC module, Model 7240 6U cPCI board, 7340 3U cPCI board and 7640 PCI board prices start at $6,995 USD, with first delivery 12 to 14 weeks ARO.

About Pentek
Pentek develops, manufactures and markets innovative DSP systems to original equipment manufacturers, distributors and value-added resellers. Pentek offers powerful VME, PMC, VIM and PCI boards for data acquisition, software radio and digital signal processing featuring Texas Instruments C6000 DSPs, Motorola G4 PowerPCs and Xilinx FPGAs. Pentek's I/O includes A/Ds, D/As, digital receivers, digital upconverters and more. Pentek equips products with high performance interfaces including VXS, RACE++ and FPDP-II and offers strong DSP software support.

Pentek, ReadyFlow and GateFlow are registered trademarks of Pentek, Inc.

North American Sales Contact:
Mario Schiavone, Pentek, Inc., One Park Way, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458-2311; telephone 201-818-5900, ext. 765; fax 201-818-5904; email, website

International Sales Contacts:
VSystems SA in France at 130070060, VSystems Electronic GmbH in Germany at 892737630, VSystems s.r.l. in Italy at 11.966 1319, VSystems AB in Sweden at 84441550, VSystems UK at 1142813123, WTI in Israel at 99-563163 and MISH International in Japan at 42-538-7650, Beijing BetaOne Sysjob Ltd. in China at 10 82895256 and Acetronix Co. Ltd. in Korea at 24202343.

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