Pentair has enhanced its 12-slot MicroTCA.4-system, which was specially developed for the needs of the Advanced Physics Community, with two new features. In order to perform precision, sensitive measurements, physics research facilities place a high demand on the real-time data transfer over Ethernet. White Rabbit is an extension of Ethernet that provides very precise synchronization among distributed nodes. It was invented at CERN and is currently developed by a distributed multi-company, multi-laboratory team as an open source hardware and software project.
Pentair, together with strategic partner N.A.T. (Bonn), has taken this development as an opportunity to further expand the Schroff MicroTCA.4 system. The new White Rabbit clock module on the MicroTCA carrier hub (MCH) from N.A.T. with two White Rabbit receivers generates every type of clock and trigger signal phase-locked to White Rabbit sources located in the network. These signals and events are routed over the Schroff MicroTCA system backplane to the respective AMC module. This allows for synchronization accurate to within one nanosecond for approximately 1,000 nodes over a distance of up to 10 km via glass fibers or copper wires.
The second innovation relates to the monitoring and firmware update for FPGAs on AMC modules. N.A.T. developed a JSM module – JTAG Switch Module – that can be used to access the individual FPGAs in the system. The JSM module is available in a single compact, mid or full-size AMC form factor and takes up one AMC slot in the MTCA system. The disadvantage here is that an AMC slot is blocked off and the module is not permanently integrated. This means that updates and monitoring functions can only be used at certain times. Pentair has equipped its MicroTCA.4 system with an additional, separate JSM slot on the back side. The JSM module from N.A.T. can be permanently integrated in this slot. Updates can be uploaded into the FPGA in each AMC slot and live data (e.g. eye diagrams) can be recorded in ongoing operation without the loss of an AMC slot.