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The ArchiTek™ FPGA Development Suite allows FPGA design engineers to add custom IP to a number of Pentek's Talon recording systems. FPGA IP can be added to the recorder to provide real-time, on-the-fly digital signal processing during the data acquisition process, greatly reducing the time associated with post-processing recorded data. ArchiTek provides a simple development environment that allows engineers to add FPGA IP such as threshold detection, spectral filtering, digital downconversion, demodulation or any other digital signal processing technique required.
ArchiTek works together with Pentek's Navigator FPGA Development Kit (FDK) and Board Support Package (BSP) to provide a simple development environment that steps engineers through the process of integrating custom IP into the recorder. It includes SystemFlow API extensions and example projects that demonstrate custom FPGA IP integration along with modifications to the recording system's control interface.
ArchiTek also allows FPGA developers to add additional channels to the recording system, so users can record both processed and unprocessed data simultaneously. ArchiTek provides extensive documentation and tutorials to assist developers through the customization process, reducing risk along with development time.
As FPGAs become larger and IP more complex, the need for IP design tools to manage this growing complexity has never been greater. The Xilinx Vivado Design Suite includes the IP Integrator, the industry's first plug-and-play IP integration design environment. Built around a graphical block diagram interface, IP Integrator allows IP developers to leverage existing IP by importing it into their block diagram design. Pentek's Navigator FPGA Design Kit (FDK), was designed with this exact purpose.
Pentek's Talon recorders include boards that are shipped with a full complement of built-in IP based functions for data acquisition, waveform generation, data tagging and streaming, and processing to match the hardware features of the board.
Each Navigator FDK provides the complete IP design for the board it supports. When the design is opened in Vivado's IP Integrator, the developer can access every component of the Pentek design, replacing or modifying blocks as needed for the application. All blocks use industry standard AXI4 interfaces providing a well defined format for custom IP to connect to the rest of the design.
The Navigator FDK includes complete documentation, test benches and full VHDL source for developers who desire complete access to the IP.
In addition to the IP specific to an individual supported board, the Navigator IP core library also includes IP blocks for many common general purpose functions. These include processing blocks for some of the most commonly used algorithms. All IP blocks are easily accessible within the IP Integrator interface from a pull-down list.
Every Talon recording system includes SystemFlow software. SystemFlow provides a graphical user interface (GUI) to control the recorder, signal analysis tools, and an API that allows users to integrate the Talon recorder into a larger system.
To support custom FPGA IP that is designed using the Navigator FDK, ArchiTek extends SystemFlow by providing generic commands for reading and writing control, and status registers to support custom IP blocks. During the IP creation process, FPGA registers are memory mapped and made available to the operating system. The API provides generic peek/poke style commands so users can read and write these custom developed registers. Developers can use these generic low-level commands to build higher level software libraries.
In addition to these low-level commands, SystemFlow supports the addition of DMA channels (record or playback channels) that are commonly required during FPGA customization. The Navigator FDK allows the user to add additional DMA channels by using Pentek-created DMA blocks, included as part of the FDK.
When adding new DMA channels, the FPGA memory map is structured to support the standard memory mapping convention defined by Pentek. This provides a simple mechanism for the SystemFlow software to "automatically" support new channels. ArchiTek documentation provides the steps required to add DMA channels, from simple modifications to the Navigator libraries to updates to the recorder's .ini file.
Developing custom IP for an FPGA requires an architecture that protects the user from breaking the existing IP and the corresponding recording software. The Navigator FDK provides user blocks at multiple locations in the data path to provide the user with some flexibility when performing data processing. The figure below provides a high-level example of the FPGA IP block diagram for Pentek's Jade Model 71861, which is used in a number of Talon recording systems.
Along with the Navigator FDK, ArchiTek provides the foundation and example projects for adding IP to user blocks and creating additional data path branches from an existing data streams. The structured design protects custom IP developers from breaking the recorder’s standard functionality, reducing development time and risk.
ArchiTek provides example projects for the Navigator FDK and the SystemFlow API to demonstrate basic control of IP generated within a user block. These projects include FPGA source code, updated.mcs files and control software that is integrated into the SystemFlow recording software package to demonstrate the custom IP functionality. Other example projects include the addition of DMA (record/-play) channels.
Many digital communication protocols use spread-spectrum techniques, in which many signal channels are spread across the same frequency span using pseudo-random sequence encoding. Instead of recording the entire frequency span, ArchiTek allows one signal of interest to be extracted using a custom FPGA block so that only that signal is delivered for recording. This can reduce the recording rate and storage capacity by orders of magnitude.
Another SIGINT monitoring application might require signal classification and time stamping of each received transmission. By suitably configuring the classification algorithm within the FPGA using ArchiTek, only the key parameters of each signal need to be recorded instead of the signals themselves, thus dramatically extending the useful mission time. This strategy of real-time processing at the front end also reduces or eliminates post-processing tasks.
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Pentek offers the worldwide military embedded computing community shorter development time, reliable, rugged solutions for a variety of environments, reduced costs, mature software development tools, and free lifetime support that our customers can depend on: phone and email access to engineering staff as well as software updates. Take advantage of Pentek's expertise in delivering high-performance radar, communications, SIGINT, and data acquisition MIL-Aero solutions worldwide for over 30 years.
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