Computer/Embedded Technology


High-performance P4 CPU controller

10 September 2002 Computer/Embedded Technology

Far more than just a powerful, flexible single-board computer, the P4 Samurai from Inova Computers incorporates the communications capabilities, high-performance graphics and rich I/O facilities that are increasingly called for in leading-edge automation applications. Featuring a newly developed universal PCI to PCI bridge chip and an innovative adaptive I/O routing scheme, this 3U CompactPCI SBC is uniquely positioned to enable a new generation of 'works in a box' industrial computers that tackle tasks which previously required multiple computers.

The Pentium 4's 'Quad Pumped Bus' technology transfers four 64-bit data packets over its front-side bus (FSB) rather than just the one or two packets of previous CPU generations, fully exploiting the capabilities of the latest DDR-RAM-266 memories. These cost-effective memories command bandwidths of up to 2,16 GBps, significantly more than the 1,6 GBps of a RAMBUS channel.

The P4 Samurai also provides a full and flexible memory complement. The P4 processor itself incorporates a generous 512 KB of on-die L2 cache and the P4 Samurai board accommodates up to 512 MB of soldered DDR-RAM-266, providing a solid basis for Linux, Solaris and Windows operating systems. Additionally, an optional DDR SO-DIMM memory extension enables problem-free expansion of the working memory up to a full Gbyte. A CompactFlash (CF) socket is also integrated on the board for adding solid-state flash memory cards or taking advantage of IBM's microdrive hard disk technology.

On the peripheral and I/O front, it delivers a full and flexible slate of interfaces and ports, including ATA 100, USB 1.1/2.0, dual 10/100 Mbps Ethernet, VGA graphics, etc. The SBC's USB controller automatically recognises the transfer rate of attached devices and adjusts accordingly. Ethernet and USB signals are routed to both the front panel and the CompactPCI J2 connector, and an innovative, intelligent I/O routing facility on the SBC automatically determines the desired route at boot-up, subsequently switching the corresponding signal accordingly. No formal configuration is necessary. A 32-bit CompactPCI board, the P4 Samurai can optionally be supplied with a 64-bit CompactPCI implementation if rear I/O capabilities are not required.

Another highlight of the board is a Phoenix BIOS with an extensive feature set. This includes legacy USB support, green functions, ACPI and freely programmable watchdog functions. The BIOS is available in source code form for OEM adaptation. A universal PCI-to-PCI bridge chip allows the board to be used either as the master CPU in a system or as a slave CPU.

An AGP graphics piggyback board accelerates graphics-intensive applications and expands graphics memory. The low-power 3D graphics chip on the piggyback supports MPEG-2 encoding with integrated motion compensation and it supports two independent displays.

The P4 Samurai also features a robustness that is particularly suitable for demanding applications such as process/CNC operation, control for processing centres, packaging and handling lines and rolling mills, plus powerful CNC machine tools. Particular attention was paid in the board's design to the power supply, signal integrity and electromagnetic compatibility (EMC). Refined layout techniques were utilised to protect against crosstalk, voltage fluctuations and clock jitter. The P4 Samurai is available with P4 processors ranging from 1,2 GHz to 2 GHz.

For more information contact Sean van der Walt, Systematic Designs, 012 667 5751, sales@systematic.co.za





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