FPGA Mezzanine Card (FMC) Standard

You of course know it by ANSI/VITA 57 since you are an engineer. Or maybe you do not get regular updates from the VMEBus International Trade Association and just know that Xilinx and their board makers, like Tokyo Electron Device, use FMC connectors.

But what's in it for me?

  • For starters you get a high performance interconnect standard that supports up to 10 Gb/s transmission with adaptively equalized I/O (think Xilinx RocketIO) and singled ended | differential signaling up to 2 Gb/s.
  • Secondly the connector supports a wealth of connections. The standard connector, organized as 40 columns of 10 rows, populates with 400 contacts (HPC - high pin count) or 160 contacts (LPC - low pin count). The standard specifies Samtec brand connectors (or equivalent) with a variety of stacking heights from 10mm down to 8.5mm.
  • There are other features of the standard that are interesting: double width modules, conduction cooled thermal interface, ruggedized modules, etc.
  • Fixed supply voltage pins
  • I2C based card identification and geographical card addressing
  • JTAG pins
  • Dual reference voltage supplies for BANK A and BANK B signaling standards.
  • VADJ (adjustable means user selectable) voltage pin, 3P3V and 12P0V and 3P3VAUX supplies
  • Fixed pin assignments for clock distribution (from carrier card to module and from module to carrier card) with defined skew specifications
  • 10 pairs (tx + rx) multi-gigabit transceiver pins (40 pins total) plus two gigabit I/O reference clocks (one for each direction -- carrier to module and module to carrier)
  • User defined pins: 34 pairs of differential I/O on LPC bank A, 24 pairs diff I/O on HPC bank A, 22 Pairs diff I/O on HPC bank B.

Wow! So what's in it for me?

Investment preservation - both engineering effort and money. Now, that expensive evaluation board you bought for project X-Factor has usefulness on your next project Y-Phase. Simply remove the mezzanine card (daughter card) and replace it with one useful for project Y-phase.

Board vendors have caught on. For example, inrevium evaluation boards from Tokyo Electron Device, like the TB-6S-150T-IMG, sport multiple HPC and LPC connectors.

Their Consumer Video Kit (CVK) leverages this with mezzanine cards that provide DisplayPort, HDMI, LVDS and V-by-1 interfaces. However, if you bought the card for video algorithm experimentation today, you can use it for audio next week with a different set of mezzanine modules -- from TED or any other vendor.

So, "what's in it for me" is answered simply as flexibility and cost savings. Talk your boss into an FMC solution and your own bottom line will be improved!

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