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JEFF'S PICK: AMC Module Does 56 GSPS A/D Conversion and FPGA-Based Signal Analysis


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In the past couple years especially, MicroTCA and ATCA have seen resurgence in military applications. Tied together by the well-established ecosystem of AMC modules, MicroTCA and ATCA offer cost-effective solutions for SWaP-constrained (MicroTCA) or performance-intensive (ATCA) military systems, particularly those with a comms or networking focus. Among ATCA's great strengths is that there's no alternative aside from ATCA for a large-sized board form factor-larger than 6U slot card boards. As a result ATCA shines in military applications where compute density and raw performance are top priorities. In contract VME and CompactPCI are suited for managing heavy I/O, but their form factors offer limited networking and processing capability.

Meanwhile, MicroTCA for its part is probably best looked at in contrast to OpenVPX. MicroTCA and OpenVPX offer close to the bandwidth/throughput capability of ATCA, but are smaller and more "embeddable". But as a rule of thumb MicroTCA is close to half the size, weight, and cost of OpenVPX. And because power is application-dependent, it can be argued that MicroTCA wins the Size, Weight and Power (SWaP) game. Other advantages of MicroTCA include an architecture that's interoperable from the ground, has inherent system management/reliability, FRU identification and dedicated SAS/SATA signals for storage, electronic keying. Moreover, the fact that MicroTCA is based on the AdvancedMC module or AMC is a huge plus because AMC has also been adapted for use in other architectures and in custom systems.

For this month's Editor's Pick section COTS Journal evaluated several MicroTCA, ATCA and AMC products on three aspects: technology leadership, design innovation and market relevance. Given that AMC is used in both MicroTCA and ATCA it's not surprising perhaps that the winning product is an AMC board. This month's Jeff's Pick is the AMC590 from VadaTech (Figure 1). This AMC board sports a Fujitsu MB8AC2070 8-bit ADC to provide 56 Gsample/s performance in an embedded modular architecture. This allows the implementation of extremely fast, high-resolution ADCs in CMOS process technology. The data acquisition front-end is paired with a Xilinx UltraScale XCKU115 FPGA and 24 Gbytes total memory. The module self-calibrates to maintain specified performance. With an analog input bandwidth up to 15 GHz the module uses extremely low loss PCB material to minimize signal degradation between the connectors and the ADC.

Figure 1
Jeff’s Pick this month is the AMC590 from VadaTech. It features a Fujitsu MB8AC2070 8-bit ADC to provide 56 Gsample/s performance paired with a Xilinx UltraScale XCKU115 FPGA and 24 Gbytes total memory.

Flexible Sampling Selection

The design innovations that stand out on the AMC590 include the product's flexible sampling selection, with 1 x 56, 2 x 28, or 4 x 14 Gsample/s channels. With a Xilinx Kintex UltraScale FPGA for on-board signal analysis, the AMC590 features 48 high speed serial lanes between the ADC and FPGA to support full data bandwidth. VadaTech also provides users with royalty-free VHDL to kick-start application development and reduce time-to-market.

The product fits nicely with the trend toward military system developers increasing demand for SWaP-optimized solutions. According to Vadatech, the AMC590 addresses this need by achieving a market-leading ADC sample rate in a compact modular architecture. Adding to the unit's flexibility is its low power consumption, with the ADC requiring just 5W. The wide input bandwidth and extremely high sampling rate make the module appropriate for the most demanding signal capture/analysis tasks.

Henderson, NV
(702) 896-3337

...And the Runners Up:

Xeon-E5-Based ATCA Blade Delivers 1.38 Teraflops of Processing

The Ensemble HDS8613 high density server (HDS) from Mercury Systems is a next-generation secure AdvancedTCA blade with dual 12-core Intel Xeon-E5 processors, the same processors found in the most powerful data centers (Figure 2 bottom board). The blade is equipped with native Advanced Vector Extensions 2 (AVX2) and full Intel Quick Path Interconnect (QPI) with the support of up to 128 Gbytes of DDR4-2133 SDRAM to deliver a combined 1.38 Teraflops of general-purpose processing power that is supported with 40 Gbit Ethernet or InfiniBand high bandwidth fabric interfaces. The board is more rugged than other AdvancedTCA blades and system integrity is assured with pre-integrated, private and personalized built in security. With the ability to support any standard AMC module with ease, the board is both powerful and configurable, with the ability for user customization built in.

Figure 2
The Ensemble HDS8613 high density server (HDS) is a secure ATCA blade with dual 12-core Intel Xeon-E5 processors. The board has full Intel Quick Path Interconnect (QPI) with the support of up to 128 Gbytes of DDR4-2133 SDRAM.

The Mercury's ATCA Ensemble portfolio of products supports the DoDs' Better Buying Power requirements for open system architectures, affordability and exportability. As the tactical cloud processing marketplace yields to globalization, this designed and made in the USA approach is the next logical next step in evolving modular open system architectures to meet massive secure processing requirements. The Ensemble HDS8613 is ideally suited to advanced radar, complex multi-signal processing applications; complex coordinated and distributed military networks.

Mercury Systems
Chelmsford, MA
(978) 967-1401


1U, 6-slot, MicroTCA Chassis Features PCIe Gen3 Backplane

Pixus Technologies has introduced the PXS0108, a 1U, 6-slot, low cost, data-grade MicroTCA chassis (Figure 3). The PXS0108 is a versatile MicroTCA chassis with enhanced ruggedization options are available for defense applications. The unit has an active backplane that alleviates the need for expensive Power Modules (PMs). The backplane provides a power manager for each slot that controls and limits the management and payload power to the maximum allowed. Pixus has upgraded the backplane to PCIe Gen3 speeds, which is faster than most in the market. Most are typically Gen 2. The versatile design allows one PSU or two (AC or DC), one MCH slot or two, mid-size modules (4HP) or full-size modules (6HP).

Figure 3
The PXS0108 is a 1U, 6-slot, low cost, data-grade MicroTCA chassis. Its backplane provides a power manager for each slot that controls and limits the management and payload power to the maximum allowed. The backplane has been upgraded to PCIe Gen3 speeds.


The 1U form factor MicroTCA variant is compact, but also very versatile allowing users to use any standard MCH. The chassis' push/pull cooling is very good at up to 60W/slot typical. The Pixus 1U MicroTCA chassis is particularly suited for development and prototyping because its small size and low cost. At the same time it's also powerful and capable for deployed applications and designed for today's PCIe Gen3 cards. MicroTCA is typically a little more than 1/2 the size and weight of VPX solutions.

Pixus Technologies
Waterloo, Ontario
(519) 885-5775


Check Out These Rugged Display Products Too...

ADLINK Technologies' ATCA carrier-grade product, the aTCA-9710, features the dual 12-core Intel Xeon processor E5-2600 v3 (formerly codenamed "Haswell-EP") paired with the Intel Communications Chipset 8920 series (formerly codenamed "Grantley").

ADLINK Technology, San Jose, CA. (408) 360-0200. ..........Figure 4

Figure 4

Advantech's MIC-5345 is a 40G dual processor ATCA blade based on the Intel server platform formerly codenamed "Grantley". Up to 512 Gbyte memory capacities allow users to harness the full capabilities of the Intel E5-2600v3 series processor.

Advantech, Irvine, CA. (949) 519-3800. ..........Figure 5

Figure 5

Artesyn Embedded Technologies has a packet processing and high performance server blade, the ATCA-7490, based on the recently announced Intel Xeon processor E5-2600 v4 as well as the Intel FM10840 high-performance Ethernet switch.

Artesyn Embedded Technologies, Tempe, AZ. (888) 412-7832. ..........Figure 6

Figure 6

Elma Electronic's MicroTCA carrier hub (MCH) card is equipped with fiber-optic technology enables connection to PCs at a distance of up to 150 meters. The Elma-MCH solves heat problems by transferring data from the MicroTCA.4-crate via fiber-optic connection to a conventional PC.

Elma Electronic, Fremont, CA. (510) 656-3400. ..........Figure 7

Figure 7

Pentair has enhanced its Schroff 12-slot MicroTCA.4-System with new features. The new White Rabbit clock module on the MCH along with two White Rabbit receivers generates every type of clock and trigger signal phase-locked to White Rabbit sources located in the network.

Pentair Technical Solutions, Warwick, RI. (401) 732-3770. ..........Figure 8

Figure 8

The ATCA-4700 from Radisys is a 10th generation, high-performance, single-slot compute blade based on the dual socket E5-2600 v3 Intel Xeon processors with 8 VLP DIMM sockets. The module is ideal for Deep Packet Inspection (DPI), packet processing and video optimization applications.

Radisys, Hillsboro, OR. (503) 615-1100. ..........Figure 9

Figure 9

The TAMC261 from TEWS Technologies is a standard Mid-Size/Full-Size AMC.1 (PCI-Express) and MTCA.4 compliant carrier for one single-width PMC module. The card upgrades well known legacy PMC I/O solutions to the high performance AMC form factor.

TEWS Technologies, Reno, NV. (775) 850-5830. ..........Figure A

Figure A