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Home>>HERON modular systems>>Overview

HERON real time modular DSP systems

HERON SYSTEMS - Programmable and Modular
A HERON system uses a Module Carrier board to provide Real Time communications between your choice of modules. The modules offer Xilinx FPGA (sometimes with embedded PowerPC)C6000 DSP and I/O. If you need more than 4 modules, or a distributed system then our inter-board connect modules provide real time connections between carrier boards too.
HERON systems are programmable, and although it is your job to program them, they come with extensive support software and even cables to allow you to get started quickly.

Move your mouse over the picture to find out more !

HERON real time systems are modular and high performance! To build systems with many millions of FPGA gates, 'C6000 DSP, embedded PowerPC, combined with system I/O at hundreds of Mhz, you can choose any combination of our HERON modules and fit them to a module carrier to form the real-time system you need. For example take 4 modules with 8Million FPGA gates and 256Mbytes of memory each, and you can get 32Million FPGA gates and 1Gbyte of memory in a single PCI slot!

When fitted to one of our module carriers, each module can transfer data at up to 400Mbytes/second in each direction. The module has access to up to 6 FIFO connections in each direction - provided by the module carrier card. The use of FIFOs allows each node to provide the clock for its end of the FIFO, so the modules don't need to have clocks of the same frequency. The FIFO flags are used to determine when data can be transferred so the data rate is controlled by the speed of both the sender and receiver. 

The HERON module specification is published by us so you can read more. This is also enough information to allow you to develop your own modules or carriers to integrate with our COTS products.

Study the information on these pages, choose your system configuration or you can contact us to discuss your needs.

You can make a reconfigurable DSP system using the modules as programmable resources in the system and a module carrier card to provide the interconnection between the modules. The interconnection uses synchronous FIFOs that could be physical FIFO components, but our HEART communications system provides software configurable connections using "virtual FIFOs" with 400Mbytes/second possible in each direction simultaneously. Here you can define your connections in software which, once connected, behave exactly like a dedicated hardware connection. There is no arbitration, or sharing of resources, so the connection is truly real time.
Inter-board Connection modules allow you to extend this real time architecture across several module carriers, allowing larger systems and even distributed (remote) systems.

For more detailed information about how Hunt Engineering modular DSP systems fit together, see the systems page. Also look at the Technology we use and see the "developing a real time system" document.

When you receive your hardware, you need to program it to perform the functions your system needs. On our CD we provide many tutorials and examples that help you to learn how to use the tools, and get your project started quickly. 
If you prefer to have an instructor, we can offer you a training course. Purchase it at the same time as your system and you can be trained on your own system.

As your project progresses and your needs change you can trade off quantities, delivery times and cabling for discounts. See our customer charter.

To summarise, a typical system will use a module carrier board with some processing modules fitted. Then system I/O will be added via more modules. If you need more than 4 modules, or for some reason your system needs to be split between 2 locations you will use the Inter-board Connections. To make the hardware perform the function you need you will need to program it using the software development tools. Start your development quickly using our tutorials and examples.