The Technology we use
- User Programmable FPGAs with embedded processors
Our systems offer a choice of module types including modules that offer programmable Virtex®-II-Pro and Virtex®-4 FPGAs, that include a PowerPC core embedded in the silicon. The modules combined them with DDR SDRAM, FLASH memory, and fast Analogue or Digital I/O.
The systems have been designed so that our customers can write VHDL programs for FPGA and C code for the PowerPC® that can be loaded onto the modules in the same way that software is booted onto a conventional processor. The Hardware Interface Layer removes the need for the programmer to be concerned with external hardware signals or timings.
The PowerPC® on HERON-FPGA modules can also be programmed using industry standard C and C++ compilers. The compiled code is either stored in the on-module FLASH memory or downloaded from your PC using our Server/Loader tool.
User Programmable FPGAs
Our systems offer a choice of module types including modules that offer programmable Virtex®-II, Virtex®-II Pro and Virtex®-4 FPGAs. These are combined with SDRAM, fast Analogue and Digital I/O.
The systems have been designed so that our customers can write VHDL programs for these modules that can be loaded onto the modules in the same way that software is booted onto a processor. The Hardware Interface Layer removes the need for the programmer to be concerned with external hardware signals or timings.
User Programmable C6000 Digital Signal Processors
Another module type offers a programmable C6000 DSP chip. For these you write C or C++ programs for multiple DSPs, that can be loaded with their programs and can then communicate using the HEART real time communications. The HERON-API removes the need for the programmer to be concerned with how the off chip peripherals work.
The C6000 offers fixed or floating point processing which when coupled with FPGA and or I/O modules can be used to form highly flexible real time systems.
HERON Module Carriers
The modules are held together by a module carrier. These allow the modules to communicate with each other in real time at up to 400Mbytes/second using the HEART architecture. Normally the module carriers also offer a connection to a Host PC via PCI, Compact PCI or USB which can sustain up to 100Mbytes/second. The Host API software removes the need for programmers to understand the hardware or Driver structure.
Hunt Engineering REsource Node (HERON) is the module format that we use in our systems. A small format of 4 inches x 2.5 inches allows us to build up systems our of "building blocks" of functionality by fitting them to a Module carrier board that provides FIFO based real time 400Mbyte/second data connections between them.
The HERON specification is a module standard developed by us but the specification is freely available so that you can develop your own HERON modules if you wish.
The Hunt Engineering Architecture using Ring Technology (HEART) is a real time communications system developed by us. It is the standard architecture for our module carriers and is based on Virtual FIFO connections between the nodes in a system - at 400Mbytes/second today, faster in the future!.
These virtual FIFOs are configured by software. Our tools allow you to define your needs using a simple text file. and allow you to define the connectivity in your system regardless of whether the nodes are FPGA, C6000 or I/O. Once configured they behave just like a hardware FIFO. You can make multiple connections between nodes, multicasting is also supported. Connection between boards, using an inter-board module, is just the same as connection on the same board.
- Inter-Board connections
The inter-board connection modules are designed to extend the real time connections of HEART between module carriers. Today they provide bi-directional connections at 125Mbytes/second per cable, with 6 cables per module. That allows you to build systems with as many module carriers as you want. The Use of Fiber connections allows connections to be made over 100s of metres and in noisy environments too.
To allow you to concentrate on programming the system to perform the functions you need, we provide easy to use APIs that perform the low level management tasks that must happen, but you don't want to understand in the detail that the designers had to.
- Host API
Hunt Engineering Host API handles the interface between tools and programs on a PC and the PCI interface of a Module Carrier board.
The model used is asynchronous, so you can run a program on your PC that processes data at the same time as the Host API is transferring other data.
- Hardware Interface layer
Hardware Interface Layer handles the interface between your VHDL for an FPGA module and the hardware that is attached to that FPGA. HIL guarantees all of the signal timings for you.
Because the FPGA is parallel logic HIL can transfer data to and from HERON-FIFOs at the full FIFO bandwidth and at the same time. Other I/O devices can also be accessed in parallel with those FIFO accesses.
Heron-API handles the interface between your C6000 C program and the hardware that is attached to the C6000. In particular Heron-API manages the limited DMA resources of the C6000 to allow you to access all 12 of the HERON FIFOs using a choice of DSP/BIOS models in your software.
The model used is asynchronous, so your DSP program can process data at the same time as the Heron API is transferring other data.
If these technologies could be applicable to your needs, browse the rest of this site and when you are ready contact us to discuss your needs.
For more information on how to combine modules in your system see the systems page.
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