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New PMC Module Uses Economical Spartan-6 FPGA to Reduce Cost of Complex Embedded Computing Tasks
Sep 30, 2011 (03:09 PM EDT)
Acromag's new PMC module features a reconfigurable Xilinx Spartan-6 FPGA to offer a cost-sensitive solution for advanced computing applications requiring custom logic, DSP, or algorithm acceleration.
WIXOM, Mich., Sept. 30, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- To assist embedded system developers with ever-tightening budget and time constraints, Acromag introduced new PMC mezzanine modules featuring the cost-optimized Xilinx® Spartan®-6 FPGA. The PMC-SLX reconfigurable FPGA modules can save thousands of dollars, yet still deliver high-performance computing for algorithm acceleration and custom logic processing tasks. Spartan-6 FPGAs have integrated logic, DSP, and memory resources that leverage the flagship Virtex-6 FPGA platform's architecture and system-level blocks for quicker and smoother system development. Acromag adds a high-throughput PCI-X interface, large memory banks, and easy access to field I/O signals to deliver a ready-to-use FPGA computing module for advanced signal processing applications. Typical uses include hardware simulation, in-circuit diagnostics, communications, signal intelligence, and image processing. The base price is just $2895 with extra memory and extended temperature options available.
"The Spartan-6 FPGA is designed for cost-sensitive applications, but with abundant logic resources and high-speed DSP, it is more than capable for many mil-aero and industrial control functions," noted Rowland Demko, Acromag's national sales manager. To optimize system performance and enable cross-platform compatibility, Spartan-6 FPGAs use an efficient dual-register 6-input LUT logic structure, built-in system-level blocks, and DSP slices derived from the high-end Virtex-6 architecture. As part of Xilinx's targeted design platform, designers can leverage common design methodologies, development tools, and run-time platforms for greater cost savings and faster time-to-market. Likewise, Acromag's PMC-SLX support software is very similar to their other FPGA design kits to save additional time.
Field I/O interfaces to the FPGA via the rear J4/P4 connector and/or with optional front mezzanine I/O extension modules. 64 I/O or 32 LVDS lines are accessible through the rear connector. Acromag's plug-in AXM mezzanine cards provide additional I/O processing capabilities. A variety of these AXM mezzanine I/O cards are available to provide front-end 14-bit 105 MHz A/D conversions or an interface for CMOS digital I/O, RS-485 differential signals, or extra LVDS I/O lines.
All models employ the logic-optimized SLX150 version of the Spartan-6 FPGA which provides 147,433 logic cells and 180 DSP slices. Dual-ported SRAM (256k or 1M x 64-bit) facilitates high-speed DMA transfers to the bus or CPU. This memory provides direct links from the PCI bus and to the FPGA. 16MB flash memory enables on-board storage and loading of the FPGA code. The 100MHz 64-bit PCI-X interface ensures fast data throughput. PMC-SLX modules are ready for use in conduction-cooled systems and offer an optional upgrade to extended temperature range parts suitable for -40 to 85 degrees C operation.
Acromag's Engineering Design Kit provides utilities to help users develop custom programs, load VHDL into the FPGA, and establish DMA transfers between the FPGA and the CPU. The kit includes a compiled FPGA file and example VHDL code provided as selectable blocks with examples for the local bus interface, read/writes, and change-of-state interrupts to the PCI bus. A JTAG interface allows users to perform on-board VHDL simulation. Further analysis is supported with a ChipScope™ Pro interface.
For easy integration of the boards with embedded Windows® applications, Acromag developed a DLL driver software package for compatibility with Microsoft® Visual C++™, and Visual Basic. Sample files with "C" source demonstration programs provide easy-to-use tools to test operation of the module.
For real time and open source applications, Acromag offers C libraries for VxWorks®, Linux®, and other operating systems. The libraries provide generic routines (source code included) to handle reads, writes, interrupts, and other functions. Demonstration programs enable the developer to quickly exercise the I/O modules before attaching the routines to the application program. This diagnostic tool can save hours of troubleshooting and debugging. The Linux example programs are a free download.
Acromag has designed and manufactured measurement and control products for more than 50 years. They are an international corporation with a world headquarters near Detroit, Michigan and a global network of sales representatives and distributors. Acromag offers a complete line of embedded I/O and industrial computer products for military, aerospace, manufacturing, transportation, utilities, and scientific research applications.
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