Rugged processor combines FPGA, PowerPC on 3U board

Merging a CPU and an FPGA in one product combines the best of two worlds: a sophisticated, easy to use processor with highest throughput and performance. Vmetro has apparently done that with its new “revolutionary” signal-processing engine.



3CPF1 processor board’s form factor is mechanically similar to 3U CompactPCI, but uses a different connector scheme to provide higher density and bandwidth I/O functions.

Merging a CPU and an FPGA in one product combines the best of two worlds: a sophisticated, easy to use processor with highest throughput and performance. Vmetro has apparently done that with its new “revolutionary” signal-processing engine. Named 3CPF1, the processor combines capabilities of a Xilinx Virtex-II Pro FPGA (XC2VP70), a Freescale PowerPC CPU (7447A), and multi-channel communications in a rugged 3U form-factor board. Key benefits include increased data processing throughput and lower cost by use of fewer processor cards, says Vmetro.

Using FPGAs for signal processing tasks can enhance device speed. For example, an FFT calculation can run 10-20 times faster on an FPGA than on a PowerPC, according to Vmetro. FPGA performance is further increased by six independent memory banks (four banks of 2M x 18-bit QDR-II SRAM and two banks of 64 MB of DDR SDRAM), which also provide for flexible, efficient data buffers and increase application resources. A Marvell MV64360 bridge tightly integrates the CPU node with the FPGA; it also provides a path to 512 MB of SDRAM, flash memory, Gigabit Ethernet channels, and serial I/O points that form a PowerPC-based subsystem.

3CPF1 processor is intended for demanding, space-sensitive applications that need complex signal processing closely coupled to high bandwidth data I/O. Typical applications include electro-optics, signal intelligence, and electronic warfare. Vmetro offers an adapter to evaluate 3CPF1 on a standard 3U CompactPCI backplane as well as on the 3CPF1-BP1 backplane. 3CPF1 is supported by Wind River VxWorks RTOS; Linux support is in development.

The processor is available in commercial air-cooled and rugged conduction-cooled versions. Pricing starts at $19,800 each, for the air-cooled design.

—Frank J. Bartos, executive editor, Control Engineering,

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