FMCs provide versatility and modularity across multiple platforms

The specification defining the () has been adopted since 2008. Today FMCs are commonly used in architectures from to to and more. The versatility of the mezzanine approach allows a broad swath of acceptance in various applications.

FMCs are being used as I/O devices in all types of configurations. Since it’s an open standard, an engineer can choose the FMC that works for them among dozens of vendors. The FMCs are also used for , RF interfaces, clock generators, and other specialty purposes. An FMC for is compelling in and physics applications. They can be used across multiple subsets of the application, with the flexibility of being changed for unique requirements of an experiment or for specific applications.

The mezzanine approach of FMCs also makes it attractive in many mil/aero and research applications. The modularity of the FMCs provides a cost-effective and easy upgrade path. The FMC can simply be swapped for the interface that meets the performance level. For example, a 1.25 GSPS 10-bit FMC can be upgraded for a 2.5 GSPS version. This is achieved without having to replace the entire , and without any hardware redesign. Similarly, another advantage of FMCs is the ability to shift I/O options. For example, an FMC with dual RJ-45s (Gig E) can be upgraded to a dual QSFP+ for higher data rates. See Figure 1 for a photo of an RJ-45 Gig E FMC, an SFP+ 10 GbE FMC, and a QSFP+ 40 GbE FMC. Of course, the FPGA carrier where it resides must have the appropriate level of performance as well.

Figure 1: FMC group photo, from left to right: RJ-45 Gig E FMC; SFP+ 10 GbE FMC; and QSFP+ 40 GbE FMC.
(Click graphic to zoom by 1.9x)

As a standard, one might think of FMCs for VITA form factors such as VME and VPX. However, FMCs are widely used in MicroTCA as well. Figure 2 shows a with the interconnection for an FMC per VITA 57. The FMC allows a wide range of ADC and I/O options while the FPGA processor, separate P2040 QorIQ for distributed processing, and DDR3 memory reside on the AMC. Another option for a design is choosing between the wide range of Xilinx- and Altera-based FPGAs. This is typically just a matter of the skill set of the customer’s engineering team. Both companies are moving to ()-style designs that are very efficient, such as Xilinx’s Zynq. It has a nice integration between the and the FPGA, making a designer’s task a little easier. The dual-core ARM processor provides a smooth development path.

Figure 2: The Kintex-7 FPGA includes an interconnection for an FMC per VITA 57.
(Click graphic to zoom by 1.9x)

The versatility of FMCs is very beneficial for many applications. They provide a cost-effective and efficient upgrade path for FPGA requirements.

Justin Moll Director of Marketing