Alpha Data boards go live at CERN -

Alpha Data boards go live at CERN


LONDON — A Scottish company's Xilinx FPGA-based analog capture boards are being used in a trajectory measurement system (TMS) for the Proton Synchrotron in CERN, Switzerland.

Alpha Data (Edinburgh, Scotland) develops COTS board-level solutions and each of its ACP-FX-N2/125 analog capture card has nine high-performance, high-resolution, wideband A/Ds running at up to 125 MHz, alongside a Xilinx Virtex 4 FPGA.

The FPGA provides control over the A/Ds and handles the distribution of the high-speed converted data, while also providing user-configurable pre-processing of the data, enabling functions such as digital filtering, signal integration, decimation and data interleaving to be performed.

The boards are housed in two robust 9U CompactPCITM racks, enabling interconnectivity between the cards and the system computer via the PCI backplane, while on board Gigabit Ethernet ports are utilized for control and system management purposes.

The TMS system, which has just been commissioned, measures the amplitude and x/y displacement of individual particle bunches as they pass 40 analog sensors in the synchrotron ring. The system captures and integrates the sensor data received for each particle bunch and stores the processed results in memory for later access.

High-performance phase locked loops are used in order to synchronize the data capture and ensure the required timing accuracy. The system is highly modular, featuring 3 + 1 independent processing modules, each containing five Alpha Data analog capture boards. .

“The Trajectory Measurement System is an essential instrument for the Proton Synchrotron, which prepares proton and ion beams for the Large Hadron Collider. It was therefore, very important that the boards met our demanding performance requirements,” said Jeroen Belleman, CERN, Switzerland.

“Alpha Data have designed an impressive data processing engine which utilizes all the key features and performance Xilinx FPGA technology delivers,” said David Tokic, senior director, partner ecosystems and Alliances, Xilinx Inc., “Xilinx devices are being used in a number of the Large Hadron Collider systems and detectors, and we are pleased our technology is being used in an endeavor which will help improve human understanding of the universe.” Keith Baker, CTO at Alpha Data, added, “With 120 channels of data needing to be processed accurately and reliably, in real-time, at an equivalent rate of 15 billion samples per second, it was certainly a challenging engineering task, and I am pleased we have reached this successful conclusion.”

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