Speeding custom deployment of RFSoC in SWaP critical environments

23rd August 2018
Source: Pentek Inc
Posted By : Alex Lynn
Speeding custom deployment of RFSoC in SWaP critical environments

The Model 6001 Quartz eXpress Module (QuartzXM) from Pentek, has been introduced as the only high-performance system-on-module (SoM) market offering based on the Xilinx Zynq UltraScale+ RFSoC FPGA with eight integrated RF-class A/D and D/A converters.

Measuring only two and a half by four inches, the QuartzXM Model 6001 includes all of the circuitry needed to maximise the performance of the RFSoC. The Model 6001 can be housed on the Pentek 3U VPX Model 5950 or it can be deployed on a custom carrier. Pentek’s complete design kit ensures success for customers building their own carrier.

Bob Sgandurra, Pentek’s Director of Product Management, stated: "By addressing and solving the critical circuit and PCB design challenges on the Model 6001 module, Pentek, as well as our customers, can leverage the design and use the module on a carrier in a standard form factor like 3U VPX as well as custom carriers to match specific application requirements. Customers can develop their system software and IP on the 3U VPX product in the lab and then deploy the QuartzXM 6001 wherever it is needed by using custom carriers.”

David Gamba, Xilinx Senior Director for the Aerospace and Defence Vertical Market, added: “The flexibility offered by Pentek’s revolutionary modularised RFSoC solution has been well received in the market as users can deploy this new technology in the field in a very small footprint, which is critical to Mil-Aero market needs.”

The Pentek Quartz architecture positions the RFSoC as the cornerstone of the design. All control and data paths are accessible by the RFSoC's programmable logic and processing system. The Xilinx Zynq UltraScale+ RFSoC Processor integrates eight RF-class A/D and D/A converters into the Zynq FPGA fabric along with quad ARM Cortex-A53 and dual ARM Cortex-R5 processors, creating a multichannel data conversion and processing solution on a single chip.

Complementing the RFSoC’s on-chip resources, the QuartzXM 6001 adds:

  • Up to 18 GBytes of DDR4 SDRAM.
  • LVDS connections to the Zynq UltraScale+ FPGA for custom I/O.
  • GTY connections for gigabit serial communication.
  • All power supplies and clocking management needed by the RFSoC.

Factory installed IP 

The QuartzXM 6001 is pre-loaded with a suite of Pentek IP modules to provide data capture and processing solutions for many common applications. Modules include DMA engines, DDR4 memory controller, test signal and metadata generators, data packing and flow control. The board comes pre-installed with IP for DFRM, triggered waveform and radar chirp generation, triggered radar range gate engine, wideband real-time transient capture, flexible multi-mode data acquisition and extended decimation.

When deployed as the Model 5950 3U VPX solution, the QuartzXM can be used out-of-the-box with the built-in functions requiring no FPGA development. When the QuartzXM is deployed on a custom carrier, developers will find the included IP cores an ideal foundation for building custom applications where size, weight and power (SWaP) are critical.

RF and expandable I/O

The QuartzXM 6001 accepts analog IF or RF inputs from the carrier board on a multi-channel connector, delivering the inputs as differential pairs into the RF-signal chain of the RFSoC. The individual D/A outputs from the RFSoC are delivered to the carrier board through a multi-channel connector as differential pairs.

A separate high speed connector to the carrier provides an interface to all of the digital signals supported by the RFSoC’s processing system and programmable logic sections.

Carrier design kit

The design kit supports customers interested in building their own carrier for the Model 6001. The kit encapsulates all of Pentek’s electrical and mechanical design knowledge to accelerate application-specific carrier design.

The kit includes a review of the customer’s design with Pentek’s engineering staff: pin definitions and electrical specifications of all signals on the module, 3D models of the module, thermal profiles of the module and components, carrier reference design schematics, PCB stack-up recommendations, PCB design guidelines and routing rules, operating system, and bootstrap guidelines.

Navigator design suite for IP development

Pentek's Navigator Design Suite includes: Navigator FDK (FPGA Design Kit) for custom IP and Navigator BSP (Board Support Package) for creating host software applications.

The Navigator FDK includes the board’s entire FPGA design as a block diagram that can be edited in Xilinx's Vivado tool suite, along with all source code and complete documentation. 

Developers can integrate their IP along with the factory-installed functions or use the Navigator kit to replace the IP with their own. The Navigator FDK Library is AXI-4 compliant, providing a well-defined interface for developing custom IP or integrating IP from other sources.

Pre-configured system

Model 6001 QuartzXM customers must purchase the Model 5950 3U VPX carrier board, which includes the QuartzXM within an open-standard form factor. This allows the user to start IP development and proof of concept designs immediately on a known, tested platform while they develop their own carrier for later deployment.

To further speed development tasks, Pentek offers a single-slot 3U VPX development chassis with the Model 5950 installed, along with a rear transition module (RTM) and all needed cables.

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