FPGA Boards Step Up Their Processing Game

By embedding the latest FPGA ICs, module vendors can provide more compute and digital conversion capabilities on their FPGA processing board products.



Today FPGAs have hands down become the main engine for digital signal processing in military system designs. The kind of signal processing functionality on today’s FPGA chips are ideally suited to the kind of system-oriented DSP functions used in defense. And signal processing capabilities of FPGAs continue to climb satisfying those applications for whom an appetite for ever more processing muscle is endless. Today FPGAs have even become complete systems on a chip. The high-end lines of the major FPGA vendors have general-purpose CPU cores on them. And the military is hungry to use FPGAs to fill processing roles.

FPGAs have now evolved to the point that calling them “systems-on-chips” is redundant. It’s now simply a given that the high-end lines of the major FPGA vendors have general-purpose CPU cores on them. And the military now routinely uses FPGAs to fill processing roles. Moreover, the flavor of signal processing functionality on today’s FPGA chips are ideally suited to the kind of system-oriented DSP functions used in defense. The signal processing capabilities of FPGAs continue to climb feeding applications like radar and SIGINT for whom an appetite for ever more processing muscle is endless.

Aside from processing, another big advantage of FPGAs lies in their ample, programmable, high-speed I/O, which is why they are often found close to the analog-to-digital converters (ADC) behind radar phased arrays. Board level vendors continue to roll out integrated solutions using the latest greats ADCs and DACs tied with FPGA processing.

Digital conversation requires the marriage of those two key technologies ADCs and FPGAs. The trend has to been to do that digital conversion as soon along the signal chain as possible. High-bandwidth A/D converters with high sampling rates must connect to extremely fast data transfer paths to store and process data with triggering or gating circuitry to digitize pulse waveforms at precisely the right time. With that in mind, board vendors continue to push the barriers with solutions with ever faster ADCs and more sophisticated FPGAs. A number of digital receiver products combine ADCs and FPGAs on one VME, VPX, or PCI Express board, while others partition the integrate an FPGA processing engine with mezzanine-based ADCs using form-factors like FMC or XMC.

FPGA products such as the Xilinx Virtex-6 and -7 and the Altera Stratix IV and V are examples that have redefined an FPGA as a complete processing engine in its own right. And newer FPGA families like Xilinx’s UltraScale Kintex 7 and Artix 7 and Altera’s Arria 10 and Stratix 10 FPGAs are this year dominating the latest crop of embedded board-level products. The Data Sheet roundup on the next couple pages shows several examples of board and module products using those advanced FPGA chips.

System developers depend on FPGA chips and boards to build radar receiver systems with a higher instantaneous bandwidth and can handle the corresponding increase in compute power required to process the received data streams. FPGAs have replaced ASIC-based radar design approaches that lacked the flexibility inherent in designs based on FPGA technology. An example military technology that relies heavily on FPGA processing is advanced active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar systems. AESA radar systems create highly adaptive steerable beams able to track multiple targets or focus electromagnetic energy in one location. These systems are used on board military aircraft like the EA-18G Growler (Figure 1) to broadcast strong radar signals while remaining undetected.

Figure 1. AESA radar systems are used on board military aircraft like the EA-18G Growler to broadcast strong radar signals while remaining undetected.

The FPGA Processing Boards Roundup and Links to the full data sheets for each product are listed below.


Abaco Systems

3U VPX FMC+ Carrier Serves up Kintex/Virtex Ultrascale FPGAs

The latest expansion of Abaco Systems’ 4DSP advanced RF and DSP product line is the 3U VPX VP880. It is an FMC+ (VITA 57) FPGA carrier featuring Xilinx UltraScale FPGA and Zynq UltraScale+ multiprocessor system-on-chip (MPSoC) technology. It also features 10 Gbytes of onboard memory—around twice that typically available on alternative products. The VP880 is designed for applications such as electronic warfare/DRFM, radar/sonar image processing, satellite communications systems, and advanced digital beamforming.

• 3U VPX FMC+ (VITA 57) FPGA carrier.
• Xilinx UltraScale FPGA and Zynq UltraScale+ multiprocessor system-on-chip (MPSoC).
• 8 GB of DDR4 DRAM mapped to FPGA; 2GB of DDR4 DRAM mapped to Zynq.
• 1x HSPC/FMC+ site for Analog or Digital Input/Output.
• Backplane options: VITA 67.1 and VITA 67.2 analog interface ports; VITA 66.4 Optical Interface via Firefly BLAST site.
• Air, Conduction cooling (optional).

VP880 Data Sheet: Click Here Registration required

Abaco Systems
Huntsville, AL
(866) 652-2226



I/O Platform Features Reconfigurable Xilinx Artix-7 FPGA Module

Acromag’s APA7-200 series provides a user-customizable FPGA on an AcroPack mezzanine module. The module plugs into a connector on an AcroPack carrier to add up to 48 TTL or 24 EIA-485/422 I/O signals or a mix of both types. Mix and match I/O combinations in a single slot for embedded applications. The APA7-200 offers a wide operating range of -40 to 85 degrees C. Reconfiguration of the FPGA is possible via a direct download into the flash configuration memory over the PCIe bus.

• PCI Express Generation 1 interface
• Reconfigurable Artix-7 FPGA.
• Mix and match countless I/O combinations in a single slot.
• High channel count digital interface: RS485, LVDS and TTL interface options.
• 32 Mb quad serial Flash memory.
• 33,280 logic cells; 41,600 Flip flops; 1,800 kb block RAM; 90 DSP slices.
• Conduction-cooled options.

APA7-200 Data Sheet: Click Here

Wixom, MI.
(248) 295-0310


Alpha Data

PCI Express Card Blends UltraScale FPGA and Rich I/O

The ADM-PCIE-8K5 from Alpha Data is a half-length, low profile, PCI Express Add-In Card featuring the Xilinx Kintex Ultrascale KU115-2 FPGA. The board features two independent channels of DDR4 memory capable of 2400 MT/s, dual SFP+ cages providing 2x 10GbE/16G Fiber Channel (Gen 5) capability. Dual Firefly connectors deliver up to 4×16 Gbps per connector.

• Half-Length, low profile x8 PCIe form factor.
• PCI Express Gen3 x8.
• Xilinx Kintex Ultrascale: XCKU115-2 – FLVA1517E.
• 2x banks of 8G x 72, DDR4-2400 DRAM.
• On-board re-programmable flash memory for embedded configuration.
• Optional integrated Board Support Package (BSP) including extensive FPGA example designs, plug and play drivers, and a mature Application Programming Interface (API).
• CAPI Compliant.

ADM-PCIE-8K5 Data Sheet: Click Here

Alpha Data
Denver, CO
(303) 954-8768



PCI Express Board Blends Xilinx UltraScale+ FPGA, 256 Gbytes DRAM

The XUPP3R from BittWare is a 3/4-length PCIe board that supports PCIe Gen4 x8 or Gen3 x16 and offers four front panel QSFP28 cages, each supporting 4 lanes of up to 25 Gbps with support for 10/25/40/100 GbE. Four DIMM sockets support massive memory configurations including up to 256 Gbytes of memory across four 72-bit wide banks. Alternatively, each of those DIMM sockets can be populated with BittWare’s dual bank QDR DIMMs, each providing 576 Mbits of QDR-II+. An optional Hybrid Memory Cube (HMC) module with 2 GB can be populated in addition to the DIMMs.

• Xilinx Virtex UltraScale+ FPGA.
• Up to two PCIe x16 interfaces supporting Gen1, Gen2, or Gen3.
• Up to two PCIe x8 interfaces supporting Gen4.
• Four QSFP28 cages for 1x 400GbE, 4x 100GbE, 4x 40GbE, 16x 25GbE, or 16x 10GbE.
• Up to 256 GB of DDR4 SDRAM with ECC; Up to 288 MB of QDR-II+ SRAM.

XUPP3R Data Sheet: Click Here Registration required

Concord, NH
(603) 226-0404


Extreme Engineering

3U VPX Xeon-D Boasts an Integrated Kintex UltraScale FPGA

The XPedite7674 from Extreme Engineering is a high-performance, 3U VPX-REDI, multiprocessing, SBC featuring Intel Xeon D-1500 family processors coupled with the Xilinx Kintex UltraScale FPGA. The XPedite7674 integrates SecureCOTS technology with the Kintex UltraScale FPGA for hosting custom functions to protect data from being or observed and provides an ideal solution when stringent security capabilities are required.

• Supports Intel Xeon D-1500 family processors (formerly Broadwell-DE).
• Designed with SecureCOTS technology to support enhanced security and trusted computing.
• Xilinx Kintex UltraScale XCKU060 or XCKU095 FPGA with up to 8 GB DDR4-2133 ECC SDRAM and 1 Gb synchronous configuration BPI flash.
• 3U VPX (VITA 46) module; Compatible with multiple VITA 65 OpenVPX slot profiles.
• Up to 16 GB of DDR4 SDRAM in two channels; Up to 32 GB of SLC NAND flash.

XPedite7674 Data Sheet: Click Here

Extreme Engineering Solutions
Middleton, WI
(608) 833-1155


Innovative Integration

PCIe XMC Module Sports 2 ADCs, 2 DACs and Artix-7 FPGA

The XA-160M from Innovative Integration is an XMC IO module featuring two 16-bit, 160 MSPS A/D channels and two 16-bit, 600 MSPS DAC channels designed for high speed stimulus-response and servo control applications. Data acquisition control, signal processing, buffering, and system interface functions are implemented in a Xilinx Artix-7 FPGA device. Two 256Mx16 memories provide data buffering and FPGA computing memory.

• Two 160 MSPS, 16-bit ADC channels; Two 615 MSPS, 16-bit DAC channels.
• 89 dB SFDR, 72 dBFS SNR A/Ds; 73 dB SFDR, 68 dBFS SNR D/As.
• Xilinx Artix-7 FPGA.
• DDR3 Memory.
• Programmable or external sample clock.
• PCI Express 2.0 XMC Module (75×150 mm).
• Use in any PCI Express desktop, compact PCI/PXI, PXIe, or cabled PCI Express application.

XA-160M Data Sheet: Click Here Registration required

Innovative Integration
Simi Valley, CA
(805) 578-4260


Interface Concept

6U OpenVPX Board Marries QorIQ and Dual Virtex-7 FPGAs

Interface Concept’s IC-FEP-VPX6b board is controlled by a QorIQ T1042 quadcore supporting four integrated 64-bit e5500 Power Architecture processor cores with high-performance data path acceleration architecture (DPAA) and network peripheral interfaces required for demanding processing applications. The board’s two FPGAs are directly interconnected via 8 GTH lanes and 35 LVDS signals.

• QorIQ processor T1042, e5500 quad core.
• Up to 4 Gbytes of DDR3L SDRAM with ECC.
• VPX 6U / 4HP 1” board compliant with 6U module definitions of the VITA 46.0 standard.
• Available in air-cooled and conduction-cooled grades.
• Two Xilinx Virtex-7 XC7VX690T FPGAs.
• 4 PCIe x4 ports; GTH ports; General purpose I/Os; 3 QorIQ Serdes; 4 Ethernet ports; 1 RS485/RS232 port; 2 USB 2.0 ports; FMC links.

IC-FEP-VPX6b Data Sheet: Click Here Registration required

Interface Concept
Quimper, France.
+33 (0)2 98 57 30 30.


Mercury Systems

Configurable 3U OpenVPX Rx/Tx Board Offers Ultra-Low Latency

Mercury’s Ensemble RFM-4R2G-2T3G-KU is a versatile OpenVPX Rx/Tx module packaged in an efficient 3U form-factor. These modules are designed for use in ultra-low latency transceivers/ DRFMs, GSPS receivers and GSPS AWGs (Arbitrary Waveform Generator) applications within the EW (EP and EA), ultra-wideband comms and SAR domains. Performance of the RFM-4R2G-2T3G-KU is derived from its 12-bit TI (ADC12D2000RF) powered ADC frontend and the processing power of the Kintex UltraScale KU115 FPGA. Both elements represent the most contemporary technology available.

• Multi-channel, highly configurable Rx/Tx module.
• Coherent and spectrally pure for EW applications.
• Kintex UltraScale FPGA processing power.
• Low-latency ADC and DAC performance.
• Multi-channel/Multi-card synchronization.
• Built-in IPMI controller.

Ensemble RFM-4R2G-2T3G-KU Data Sheet: Click Here

Mercury Systems
Andover, MA
(866) 627-6951



FPGA Accelerator Card Features Altera Arria 10 SoC FPGA

Nallatech’s 385A-SoC low profile System on Chip SoC FPGA accelerator card provides a powerful computing and I/O platform for SoC FPGA and ARM-based development and deployment across a range of application areas including High Performance Computing, Image Processing and Network Analytics. The OpenCL-programmable 385A-SoC is an 8-lane PCIe Gen 3 card featuring an Altera Arria 10 SoC FPGA and DDR4 SDRAM external memory.

• Altera Arria 10 SX F34 package.
• Dual 10G QSFP Ports.
• NIC Form Factor.
• 2 Banks 4G DDR4 SDRAM.
• 8-Lane PCI-Express Gen 3.
• Active cooling / passive cooling available upon request.
• 1/2 height, 1/2 length, single width PCIe card (NIC size).
• Altera Quartus Software Development Kit Edition w/ OpenCL SDK.

385A-SoC Data Sheet: Click Here

Camarillo, CA
(805) 383-8997



XMC Provides 200 MHz 16-bit ADCs and Kintex Ultrascale FPGA

The Model 71131 from Pentek is a member of the Jade family of high-performance data converter XMC modules based on the Xilinx Kintex Ultrascale FPGA. is an eight-channel, 250 MHz XMC module featuring 16-bit A/Ds with programmable multiband digital down converters (DDCs). The Model 71131 is suitable for connection to HF or IF ports of a communications or radar system. Its built-in data capture feature offers an ideal turnkey solution as well as a platform for developing and deploying custom FPGA-processing IP.

• Complete radar and software radio interface solution.
• Supports Xilinx Kintex Ultrascale FPGAs.
• Three 200 MHz 16-bit A/Ds.
• Three multiband DDCs (digital downconverters).
• One DUC (digital upconverter).
• Two 800 MHz 16-bit D/As.
• Ruggedized and conduction-cooled versions available.

Model 71131 Data Sheet: Click Here

Upper Saddle River, NJ
(201) 818-5900


Star Communications

Virtex-7 FPGA PCIe Card Provides Complete IF-to-DMA Path

The PVP card family from Star Communications combine a multi-channel digital receiver with up to four FPGA processing elements, on a standard PCI Express card. When installed in a customer’s host computer system, a PVP card provides a complete IF-to-DMA path for receiving wireless signals, processing them in an FPGA, and sending results to the host computer system via PCI Express. A PVP card has 1 to 4 input channels, which are routed to each FPGA on the card.

• Up to four high-end Virtex-7 FPGAs (XC7VX485T).
• PCI Express card 6.6- x 4.4- x 0.8-inches.
• Weighs less than 11 ounces.
• 50-125 Watts, depending on the number of FPGAs selected.
• 1 to 4 input channels, which are routed to each FPGA on the card.
• Provides a complete IF-to-DMA path.
• Onboard sample clock generation.

PVP Data Sheet: Click Here

Star Communications
Vienna, VA
(703) 254-5860



AMC Board Sports Virtex UltraScale FPGA and 8 GB of DRAM

Vadatech’s AMC596 board is based on the Virtex UltraScale XCVU440 FPGA in FLGA2892 package with an on board Power PC P2040. The FPGA is supported by 8 Gbytes of 64-bit wide DDR4 and an on-board Power PC P2040. The additional connectivity provided by PinoutPlus—over 250 Gbps between neighboring modules—makes the product ideal for ASIC emulation and demanding sensor processing applications.

• Xilinx Ultra Scale XCVU440 w/ QorIQ PPC2040.
• 8 GB of DDR-4 (single bank of 64-bits).
• 20 SERDES lanes optionally routed to Tongue 2.
• Ideal for ASIC prototyping/emulation.
• Compliant to the AMC.1, AMC.2, AMC.3 and/orAMC.4 specification.
• Clock jitter cleaner.
• Single module, mid-size AMC (full-size optional).

AMC596 Data Sheet: Click Here

Henderson, NV
(702) 896-3337