Ariel produces open-architecture DSP board with SHARCs

CRANBURY, N.J. - Executives of Ariel Corp. in Cranbury, N.J., are zeroing in on high-performance military radar, sonar, and spectrum analysis designs with their new Hammerhead V200, a second-generation VME board equipped with six 40-MHz Analog Devices 21060 and 21062 SHARC floating point digital signal processors.

Mar 1st, 1997

Ariel produces open-architecture DSP board with SHARCs

By John McHale

CRANBURY, N.J. - Executives of Ariel Corp. in Cranbury, N.J., are zeroing in on high-performance military radar, sonar, and spectrum analysis designs with their new Hammerhead V200, a second-generation VME board equipped with six 40-MHz Analog Devices 21060 and 21062 SHARC floating point digital signal processors.

The board, which uses two OpenIO baseboard access sites based on Ariel`s Open Hardware Architecture (OHA), features a peak performance of 720 million floating-point operations per second and 12 front panel 40-megabyte-per-second link I/O ports.

Hammerhead also provides as many as 3 megabytes of zero-wait-state static random access memory and 3 megabytes of flash memory.

Ariel offers VME DSP single-board computers with microprocessors from Analog Devices of Norwood, Mass., and from Texas Instruments of Sanford, Texas. The designer`s application should drive his choice of DSP boards, advises Steve Curtin, Ariel marketing manager.

SHARC products arguably are geared more for general tasks than are Ariel products based on the Texas Instruments 320C44 floating-point DSP, Curtin says.

OpenIO is a processor-independent, high-speed bus interface to connect real-world I/O to advanced DSP systems, Curtin says. The OpenIO specification provides 32 bits of data and address along with a generalized definition of DSP-specific signals such as communications ports, link ports, serial ports, and interrupts. This approach provides maximum throughput previously achievable only through custom designs, Curtin says.

The two sites enable designers to take advantage of off-the shelf radar and sonar I/O modules. They also make it easy for designers to create their own custom I/O solutions.

OHA is a new approach to digital signal processing (DSP) system design that enables contractors to use commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) DSP technology without compromising performance, functionality, or flexibility, Curtin says.

Most DSP board suppliers offer access to the baseboard by providing mezzanine interfaces with rigid pinouts and communication protocols that diminish performance and restrict baseboard access, Curtin says. To address this bottleneck, designers must frequently make compromises such as purchasing more powerful processor cards or backing off on critical I/O specifications.

OHA does not impose a particular protocol or pinout, but uses high-density connectors to give designers access to key baseboard DSP signals.

Hammerhead uses each of the SHARC`s six link ports for interDSP communications, external I/O, and multiprocessing. Two of the ports on each SHARC are for point-to-point communications with neighboring SHARCs in a dual-ring topology. The remaining ports are distributed to open I/O sites (two link ports per site), to the front panel (as many as 12 front panel link ports), and to external headers.

To satisfy custom I/O requirements, Ariel engineers are currently working on a family of OpenIO modules. The first will implement the Front Panel Data Port (FPDP) from Interactive Circuits and Systems in Gloucester, Ontario - a 32-bit parallel port that supports data rates as fast as 160 megabytes per second at distances as far as 10 feet.

The FPDP interface will give Hammerhead users access to a family of high-speed, multi-channel VMEbus-based A-D, D-A and sonar I/O cards, which also come equipped with FPDP interfaces. Ariel engineers are also working on a variety of other OpenIO data acquisition modules, including a 12-bit, 50-MHz A-D converter, 14 bit 2-MHz A-D converter, and 16-bit sigma-delta converter that provides A-D and D-A conversion.

Development support for the Hammerhead includes the Analog Devices C compiler, assembler, simulator and Windows-based EZ-ICE multiprocessor source-level emulator/debugger. Hammerhead also includes drivers for SunOS 4.1. VxWorks is optional.

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