13 new models are available for general sale, with different combinations of sampling rate (20, 40 or 80Msample/s) and number of input channels (1-8). There are actually two more models, with the lowest combination of sample rate and channel count, available only to OEMs for building into equipment. Versions sampling above 80Msample/s will be added next year. (see chart below)
In all cases, what the customer gets is a combination of the M2p PCIe base card and one or two (’59xx’) daughter modules (see photo) – base cards and daughter cards are not sold separately.
The daughter cards carry the configurable front-end amplifiers, ADCs – one per channel – and calibration.
The new parts are designed to be compatible with the earlier versions (M4i base board + ’49xx’ daughters). “They are 100% software compatible with no change, or very little change, with any software since 2006,” company CTO Oliver Rovini told Electronics Weekly.
Motivation for the new series was partly to remove some obsolete parts in the 49xx boards, and partly to increase performance.
Apart from doubled sampling rate, each card now has a pair of trigger inputs rather than one, and trigger events can be time-stamped, from a GPS input, for example.
Noise is down – changes including new board-to-daughter connectors have ensured this – although the company is still establishing the final specification figure before making it public.
For those wanting more than one card in the same assembly – up to 16 cards can be racked to get 128 channels – a synchronisation product called the Star Hub clips to one of the board and connects to all the others via coax cables to synchronise the up-to 32 daughter daughter cards. “Card to card timing jitter is somewhere around 100-200ps – we have not fully measured it yet,” said Rovini. “This is far below the sample rate, which is 12.5ns at 80MHz.”
Four individually programmable connectors are available on the front-plate for trigger inputs, status outputs, synchronous digital input lines, asynchronous I/O or the reference clock input for the integrated time stamping unit.
Each channel can have its input rage set between ±200mV and ±10V, and includes programmable input offset for unipolar measurements (inputs can be paired for differential measurements). Input termination can be set to 50Ω or 1MΩ and an integrated calibration circuit.
Overall card length is now 167mm (‘half-length’) to allow use in smaller PCs, and the interface is PCIe x4 lane for >600Mbyte/s transfer, which is >75Msample/s continuous streaming for four channels.
On-board memory is 1Gbyte for continuous data storage.
Intelligent acquisition modes like multiple recording, gated sampling or ABA – combined fast and slow continuous acquisition – is available.
Applications are expected in ultrasound, lasers, lidar, radar, automotive and big physics experiments.
Software support comes from Spectrum’s own general driver API that was introduced in 2006. “Nowadays more than 400 different products share this common driver library allowing easy switching from slow to fast products and combining PCIe, PXIe or Ethernet/LXI products with one common software interface,” said the firm.
A software design kit (SDK) based on Windows and Linux is included in the delivery, and “drivers and examples for nearly every programming language on the market are included leaving the decision of the preferred programming interface to the customer”, said Spectrum. “The current SDK includes C, C++, C#, Delphi, VB.NET, J#, Python, Java, LabVIEW, MATLAB and LabWindows/CVI.”
All units are ship with a base version of Spectrum’s SBench 6 software for first tests and simple measurements. The Professional license of the software adds support of all acquisition modes, a number of calculations, and displays, project control and reporting.
All products are made in Germany, either at the firms HQ near Hamburg or near-by.
Warranty is five years. “Furthermore, software and firmware updates are free of charge for the lifetime of the product,” said CEO Gisela Hassler. “Support is done directly by our in-house team of engineers, normally within a couple of hours after the request.”