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PMC Modules Use Economical FPGA to Reduce Cost of Complex Embedded Tasks

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A set of new PMC mezzanine modules features the cost-optimized Xilinx Spartan-6 FPGA. The PMC-SLX reconfigurable FPGA modules from Acromag 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.

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. 16 Mbyte flash memory enables onboard storage and loading of the FPGA code. The 100 MHz 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°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 onboard 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. The base price is just $2,895 with extra memory and extended temperature options available.

Acromag, Wixom, MI.  (248) 295-0310. [www.acromag.com] .