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

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The first member of a new high-performance software defined radio module—the Onyx family from Pentek—is a 4-channel, 200 MHz A/D XMC module 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 new 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.

As the first in the Onyx product line, the Model 71760 demonstrates 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 Gbyte and 1600 MHz, respectively. The PCIe interface has been upgraded to Gen 3, delivering peak speeds up to 8 Gbyte/s. 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. The Model 71760 XMC module with 4 Gbyte of memory starts at $15,995, with versions also in PCIe, cPCI and VPX formats.

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