Data acquisition module aids multi-board synchronization for radar and UAV -

Data acquisition module aids multi-board synchronization for radar and UAV


Pentek Inc.has expanded its Cobalt family of data acquisition modules with the 71640 which is capable of digitizing one 12-bit channel at 3.6 GHz, or two channels at 1.8 GHz.

The 71640 nearly quadruples the signal bandwidth that can be handled on a single channel and has provisions for the synchronization of multiple boards for capture and analysis of even wider bandwidths.

The 71640 provides a substantial jump in speed over the existing 1 GHz A/D modules and will take customers into wideband radar and communication applications where 1500 MHz bandwidth signals can now be digitized by a single A/D. This makes the 71640 suitable for UAV applications where weight and space are tightly constrained.

Using a National Semiconductor ADC12D1800 12-bit A/D converter, the 71640 provides two transformer-coupled RF input ports that can operate in single- or dual-channel mode. As with all Cobalt modules, the 71640 also includes an on-board Xilinx Virtex-6 FPGA for customer-specific data processing.

The module includes four banks of 256 MB DDR3 SDRAM and built in triggered data capture functions for acquiring precise data blocks. An optimized multi-channel DMA engine provides efficient data movement over the Gen2 x8 PCIe interface to host processors. An optional 8x, or dual 4x, gigabit serial I/O interface allows users to support application specific protocols and create high-bandwidth paths between modules or to additional signal processing engines.

To capture wideband signals with previous-generation A/D modules, developers needed to split those signals into smaller overlapping bands and use multiple A/Ds to digitize those bands. This created challenges whenever the target signal fell in the overlap band. The 71640’s bandwidth enables elimination of overlap processing while also saving system costs of the band-splitting filters and multiple data acquisition boards.

For even wider bandwidths or for multi-channel systems, the 71640 offers a  synchronization bus that works with a companion timing module for sample-accurate synchronization of multiple Cobalt modules.

Pentek’s ReadyFlow board support package for the 71640 enables configuration of the board’s many features including a linked-list DMA engine and automatic appending of metadata and time stamps to support storage and post-capture analysis of acquired signals. The GateFlow tool provides developers with libraries and design support for implementing their own real-time analysis using the on-board Virtex-6 FPGA.

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