Test & Measurement

Data acquisition cards boast fast transfer speed

2nd March 2016
Mick Elliott

A series of Digital Data Acquisition cards from Spectrum are claimed to represent a major performance breakthrough for test engineers who require high-speed digital data logging with multi-channel logic analysis over extended time periods. Based on Spectrum's proven M4i series PCI Express (PCIe) platform the cards are small and compact.

Each card comes equipped with 32 fully synchronous channels, large 4GB on-board memory and a PCI Express x8 Gen 2 interface that offers outstanding data streaming performance. If you need more channels you can even link up to 8 cards together with Spectrum's Star-Hub clock and trigger distribution system that fully synchronises up to 256 channels.

Five different models are available with two offering differential inputs, for LVDS, (LV)PECL, (N)ECL and other differential signals, and three models with single-ended inputs for logic levels of 1.2, 1.5, 1.8, 2.5, 3.3, and 5V.

The cards are equipped with two VHDCI connectors for the digital channels as well as for the external trigger, clock input and clock output.

These connectors also provide two separate multi-function inputs/outputs that can be individually programmed to perform different operations such as trigger out, status output (armed, triggered, ready, …) as well as providing additional asynchronous I/O lines.

Top of the range for the single-ended cards is the model M4i.7730-x8 which offers an internal data rate of 720MBit/s. Other models are available with 125 and 250MBit/s performance. For the models with differential inputs the M4i.7735-x8 also boasts an internal data rate of 720MBit/s while the more economical M4i.7725-x8 offers 250MBit/s performance.

Using a PCI Express x8 Gen 2 interface means that all of the cards offer ultra-fast data transfer. The interface, together with Spectrum’s optimized drivers, enables transfer rates in excess of 3.0 GB/s. So, even at the highest possible sampling rates, all of the channels can be continuously recorded. Streaming the acquired waveforms to PC based storage systems, such as Spectrum's tera-store units http://spectrum-instrumentation.com/en/seamless-pc-based-waveform-acquisition-and-replay-ghz-range, even allows the uninterrupted recording of data for minutes or hours at a time.

The fast transfer speed of the cards is complemented by a variety of acquisition modes that include single-shot, multiple recording, gated sampling and continuous streaming (FIFO). These acquisition modes are further supported by a flexible trigger engine that allows full pattern triggering, together with trigger time stamping.

The M4i.77xx series of Digital Data Acquisition cards are available with immediate delivery and are shipped factory tested with SBench 6 base version software, support drivers and a two year manufacturer’s warranty.

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