LONDON A startup company that has its roots in years of DSP-based board development has started shipping an Advanced Mezzanine Card (AdvancedMC) module that is targeted at high-performance processing roles in wireless baseband and other applications.
CommAgility Ltd. (Loughborough, England) was set up earlier this year by engineers who previously worked at Loughborough Sound Images (LSI) which in 1998 merged with Mizar Inc. (Carrollton, Texas) to form Blue Wave Systems and which was subsequently bought by Motorola in 2001.
What had started in the 1980s as expertise in building boards around flag-ship single-chip digital signal processors has moved on and CommAgility’s first product is designed around four TMS320C6455 DSPs from Texas Instruments running at 1 GHz and a Virtex-4 FX100 series FPGA from Xilinx. The AMC-D4F1 module (pictured below) should meet the needs of developers in high-end signal processing, from wireless baseband through to image processing and defense and aerospace applications.
The board is based on the AdvancedMC embedded standard, making it suitable for MicroTCA frames but also usable in the AdvancedTCA system. AdvancedMC is a recent standard from the PCI Industrial Computer Manufacturers Group for hot-swappable, field-replaceable cards in a small and cost-effective chassis.
“The AMC-D4F1, our first major product development, showcases what CommAgility can achieve in packing high-end processing and I/O bandwidth into the limited space of an AdvancedMC module. Our future roadmap will include both FPGA-centric products and the latest multi-core wireless DSP devices,” said Edward Young, CommAgility’s managing director.
The on-board infrastructure provides both 10 Gbps 4x Serial RapidIO and Gigabit Ethernet, including multiple links to the AMC connector for redundant connections to microTCA MCH or other switch hubs, and a front panel Serial RapidIO link.
In addition, a 10 Gbps front panel link to the FPGA provides further programmable interface capabilities. For improved data transfer capability, each DSP also has a 125-MHz synchronous EMIF connection to the FPGA – 64 bits wide from DSP 0 and 32 bits wide from each of DSPs 1 to 3, giving a total of 20 Gbps bandwidth. There’s 1-Gbyte of on-card storage.
The AMC-D4F1 can be supplied as a COTS product or, for OEM use, Comm-Agility can customize, and will consider licensing the design, the company said. This will allow a customer to start development quickly on the standard product, while optimizing the solution for volume production.
CommAgility is planning to develop high-end FPGA products as well as DSP-centric products and believe that for a lot of high-end applications there is a need to combine FPGAs and DSPs to get the right cost/performance/power/space combination.
The AMC-D1F3 (below)is in development and is a single width, full-height AdvancedMC intended for FPGA-centric processing algorithms. It also includes a DSP for additional control and signal processing. The board is based on two Xilinx Virtex-5 LXT or SXT FPGAs, one Xilinx Virtex-4 FX series FPGA, and a Texas Instruments TMS320C6455 DSP.
A 10 Gbps SRIO infrastructure based on the PICMG AMC.4 standard provides the deterministic bandwidth needed for radio or other raw data transfers on and off card. A separate AMC.2 Gigabit Ethernet is provided for control, management and delivery of baseband or other processed data streams.
CommAgility was cofounded by Young and several engineers. Paul Moakes and Simon Pack serve as technical directors and Martin Hollingshead is engineering director, all of whom have worked together previously with such companies as Motorola, Blue Wave Systems and Loughborough Sound Images.
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