Author: Barbara Schmitz, Chief Marketing Officer, MEN Mikro Elektronik
While the increasing speed and bandwidth requirements on the data highway lead to new system solutions like CompactPCI Serial, many applications will still depend on traditional serial communication via UART and fieldbus interfaces for an extended period of time. At the moment, the appropriate COM ports are still included in the relevant CPU chipsets and are partly led out at the front panels of single-board computers for CompactPCI Serial (or CompactPCI PlusIO). Nonetheless, the number of the available UARTs might sometimes be insufficient and fieldbus interfaces are not part of the standard equipment of CPU manufacturers anyway.
The CompactPCI Serial peripheral board G215 can help to complete such a system. At first glance, you get two additional UARTs, two CAN interfaces and an 8-channel binary I/O interface. As this extension is intended to be adjustable flexibly and cost-efficiently to manifold requirements, it is equipped with a freely configurable FPGA that offers nearly unlimited options. It supports both RS232, RS422, RS485 UARTs in full duplex, half duplex or HDLC mode – optionally electrically isolated – and fieldbuses such as CAN, InterBus-S or the vehicle bus IBIS. As a new Altera high-performance FPGA – the Cyclone 4 – is used, applications with the Nios softcore, i.e. with its own intelligence are also imaginable.
The physical lines are implemented using SA-Adapters individually for each channel. Mechanically, a maximum of eight SA-Adapters can be mounted on a front panel with a width of up to 12 HP – for example for implementing a CAN card with 8 ports.
Another advantage of this IP-core-based solution is the unlimited availability of the functionality, which has to be defined only once. Using the IP in the FPGA, the obsolescence policy for PC components which is sometimes unpredictable is avoided.
Being a CompactPCI Serial board, the G215 also offers the advantage of fast communication from the FPGA via PCI Express at the backplane to the host CPU. The direct connection of the Cyclone 4 to the backplane also allows leading customer-specific FPGA functions to rear I/O.
The G215 was developed for use in harsh environments and is exclusively equipped with soldered components for an operating temperature of -40 to +85°C.