Pentek Debuts First in a Family of Virtex-7 FPGA SDR Modules for Demanding UAV, Radar and Communications Applications

17th January 2012
Source: Pentek Inc
Posted By : ES Admin
Pentek Debuts First in a Family of Virtex-7 FPGA SDR Modules for Demanding UAV, Radar and Communications Applications
Pentek, Inc., today introduced the first member of its high-performance Onyx family – the Model 71760. The 4-channel, 200 MHz A/D XMC module is based on the Xilinx Virtex-7 FPGA family. Pentek’s Onyx modules use the same modular I/O interfaces as the popular Virtex-6 FPGA Cobalt family, while boosting memory, logic and I/O performance. The Onyx Model 71760, for instance, is similar to the Cobalt 71660, but has twice the memory capacity and I/O bandwidth, addressing the most challenging unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), radar and communication applications.
“Onyx is a strategic extension of our successful Cobalt line,” said Rodger Hosking, vice president of Pentek. “With higher-speed A/Ds and D/As, and tougher DSP algorithms, we needed more horsepower to keep pace. Pentek leveraged the modular architecture of the Cobalt family, along with the latest Xilinx FPGA technology, to provide customers a broader range of price and performance options and a future path for the most demanding signal processing applications.” Hosking added that Pentek intends to release at least twelve additional Onyx family modules during 2012.

“Pentek is among the first customers to leverage the high-performance, low-power Virtex-7 FPGA family,” said Brent Przybus, director of High-End FPGA platforms at Xilinx. “As with all our 28nm 7 Series FPGA families, our goal is to deliver a scalable, unified FPGA offering with optimized features to increase the performance and flexibility customers need at the lowest possible power consumption.”

Boosting Performance, Retaining Architecture
As the first in the Onyx product line, the Model 71760 exemplifies the relationship of the Onyx and Cobalt families. The Onyx Model 71760 shares many of the same architectural and front-end characteristics as the similar Cobalt Model 71660 module: a four-channel, 16-bit, 200 MHz A/D, external sample clock synchronization and a VITA 42.0 XMC-compatible switched fabric interface.

The similarity of the two families gives developers the opportunity to port software developed for Cobalt modules to the corresponding Onyx modules with a minimum of effort. All ReadyFlow tools work with both families, further simplifying the software development effort. Thus, developers will be able to migrate from Cobalt to Onyx modules as their performance needs increase, or begin development on Cobalt modules until release of the corresponding Onyx module.

Architectural enhancements in the Onyx family include a doubling of the DDR3 memory in both size and speed to 4 GB and 1600 MHz, respectively. The PCIe interface has been upgraded to Gen 3, delivering peak speeds up to 8 GB/sec. The 71760 FPGA comes preconfigured with a suite of built-in functions for data capture, synchronization, tagging and formatting, making the board an ideal turn-key interface for radar, communications or general data acquisition applications. For systems that require custom functions, IP can be developed using the Xilinx ISE Design Software and the Pentek GateFlow FPGA Design Kit, extending or even replacing the factory installed functions. The Onyx architecture now includes enhanced FPGA loading modes to simplify live reconfiguration.

Pricing and Availability
The Model 71760 XMC module with 4 GB of memory starts at $15,995 USD, with versions also in PCIe, cPCI and VPX formats. Additional FPGA options are available and Pentek expects to release advanced mezzanine card (AMC), ruggedized and extended temperature versions of the Model 71760 later in 2012. Delivery is 12-14 weeks ARO.

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