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Charon-V6 (8 14-bit DAC)
  • Overview
  • Features & Benefits
  • Details
  • Performance Specifications


The QuiXilica Charon-V6 VME / VXS is a 6U ANSI/VITA 41 (VXS) compliant high-speed waveform generator board combining high density FPGA processing with eight 14-bit D/A output channels at 1.2 GSPS (Gigasamples per second).  

QuiXilica Charon-V6 VME / VXS
8 x 1.2 GSPS x 14-bit DAC

By employing three Xilinx Virtex-6 FPGAs, Tekmicro’s Charon-V6 combines high resolution wideband signal acquisition and generation with the onboard high density FPGA processing for a range of radar and Electronic Warfare applications such as target generation, jamming, and CM / CCM techniques. The result is a single slot solution that utilizes the latest ADC and DAC technology, supports advanced signal processing of up to 8+ GB/s of digitized data, and forwards the results through VME, VXS or front panel connection via SFP+ or CXP to the next processing stage.

Charon-V6’s three Xilinx Virtex-6 FPGAs provide up to 6,048 DSP slices and 3.27 teraMAC/s of signal processing. In combination with eight analog output channels, this can provide significantly greater performance per board, reduce size/weight/power requirements and simplify development.    

The Charon-V6 features high bandwidth, low latency interconnect paths between its FPGAs. These have been carefully specified to ensure that data from all ADC inputs can be routed to the appropriate FPGA to meet the application processing requirements.   The ADCs are organized as two independent groups of four, each with their own clock and trigger inputs. However, a single clock and a single trigger input may be used for all eight channels on a single board. Synchronization of multiple boards is done using an external trigger signal. This offers significant throughput advantages for a range of advanced processing algorithms including coherent multi-channel algorithms found in applications such as direction finding, Space Time Adaptive Processing (STAP) radar, EW, ELINT and Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) image formation.

The Charon-V6 is available for a wide range of operating environments including commercial grade, rugged air cooled, and conduction cooled to support deployed applications such as unmanned airborne, naval and ground vehicles. For more details, see Tekmicro’s Ruggedization Data Sheet.



Eight 14-bit DAC outputs at 1.2 GSPS each

Multichannel ouput in a single slot
Sample accurate synchronization across multiple boards

Supports high channel count applications such as beam steering with up to 144 channels in a single VXS chassis

Single or dual / independent front panel clock inputs Flexible clock distribution
Twelve fiber optic interfaces running at up to 6.4 Gb/s using CXP front panel connection Flexible data movement across the front panel for use in standard VME environments
One SFP port for Gigabit Ethernet connectivity Network access and data movement to FPGAs via on-board Gigabit Ethernet switch
Dual 4x full duplex VXS links and 2 full duplex VITA 41.6 ethernet links Enhanced VXS capability
Three large pin count (1759 pin package) Xilinx Virtex®-6 devices available per board (LX240, SX315, or SX475). other configurations available
Matched FPGA processing and analog data bandwidth for dense channel count systems
5 GB DDR3 SDRAM memory
Large memory resources for application flexbility
Two fully independent banks of (72 Mb/bank) QDRII+ memory on backend FPGA  
Advanced temperature and current monitoring Protection from damage and usable in customer applications
Comprehensive developer's kit provided including FPGA interface cores, QuiXstart FPGA utilities, software and reference design Faster application development
Convection or conduction cooled options Ruggedization designed in for demanding deployed applications


Eight channels of 1.2 GSPS, 14-bit resolution digital to analog conversion using the Analog Devices AD9736. Outputs are single-ended, AC coupled. Maximum full scale output is 1.0 dBm.

Virtex-6 FPGAs

Xilinx Virtex-6 FPGAs are the heart of the Charon-V6. The FPGAs interface between the ADC’s, memory and I/O resources to provide a platform for implementing high performance real time processing. The Charon-V6 is configured with three high pin count Xilinx Virtex-6 devices (LX240, SX315, or SX475) per board. Other device types can be used optionally or mixed for custom configurations. All FPGAs are interconnected by wide parallel LVDS busses and via high speed Aurora serial links using the Xilinx GTX transceivers.

Front Panel High Speed Serial I/O

One 12-fiber CXP site is provided on the front panel for standard protocols  such  as  Gigabit  Ethernet,  Serial  FPDP  (ANSI/VITA 17.1 /17.2). 

Onboard Gigabit Ethernet Networking and Switching

An onboard Gigabit Ethernet Switch connected to each FPGA supports routing of control plane signaling and minimizes FPGA involvement for data distribution/forwarding between FPGAs. A dedicated SFP port which supports both fiber and copper 1000 baseT ethernet connections is available to connect to an outside network.

VXS Backplane High Speed Serial I/O

The Charon-V6 can be used as a VITA 41.0 payload card. Up to eight high speed serial links of up to 3.125 Gb/s full duplex data rates are supported via VITA 41.0 MultiGig RT2 P0 connector. Custom or standard communication protocols can be run over these links by providing appropriate firmware in the FPGA.

High Speed Parallel LVDS Interconnectivity 

All FPGAs are also interconnected with a number of LVDS pairs for optimized data transfer as the block diagram shows.

QuiXstart FPGA Configuration

A number of options are available for configuring FPGAs on the Charon-V6. A JTAG connection is available to allow users to configure the FPGAs via standard Xilinx development tools. Onboard flash is available and can configure each FPGA on power up. Tekmicro’s QuiXstart tool supports flexible configuration of FPGAs through a Gigabit Ethernet link from a remote server after a power up or reset event.


Trigger input connections are provided on the front panel to allow the hardware to be employed in a variety of radar and electronic warfare scenarios. The trigger input is differential, supporting LVDS and LVPECL (as a build option).  Each channel can operate with its own trigger, or one trigger can be used for both DAC channels. The trigger inputs may be used to synchronize multiple Charon-V6 boards to within a single sample period.


Charon-V6’s eight DAC outputs are divided into two groups of four.  Each group of four may have its own independent clock or all eight may be driven by the same clock (factory build option).  Minimum input clock level is -6 dBm into 50 Ω.


Charon-V6 has two independent banks of onboard DDR3 SDRAM for each FPGA.  The front end FPGAs have two 1 GB banks, each with throughput of 6.4 GB/s, while the back end FPGA has two 512 MB banks, each with throughput of 3.2 GB/s.  The total memory capacity is 5 GB with aggregate throughput of 32 GB/s across six banks.  All DDR3 memory banks are clocked at 400 MHz for an 800 MT/s transfer rate. In addition, there are two fully independent banks of QDRII+ SRAM memory for the back end FPGA. Each QDRII+ device has a 72 Mbit capacity (144 Mbit total) supported by an 18-bit data bus per bank.

GPIO Connections

For general purpose I/O signals, the Charon-V6 can be accessed via the P2 connector and there is also an SSMC connector on the front panel which can be used for such things as a GPS signal, etc.

System Monitoring / Damage Protection

The Charon-V6 includes facilities to monitor current and temperature at various points on the board. Current monitoring of all main power rails is available through the use of a Spartan-6 FPGA.  Die temperature monitoring of the three FPGAs and temperature monitoring of three locations on the PCB is also available. This allows a first level of protection when the Charon-V6 is operating in different environmental scenarios. The output from the sensors is available to the user’s FPGA firmware applications, to allow the application to adapt to changes in environmental conditions. The Charon-V6 also uses the system monitoring sensors to implement a system protection mechanism which will, independently of the user’s application, prevent excessive current or temperature from damaging the board.

D/A Converter

Quantity: 8
Sampling Rate: 1.2 GSPS
Resolution: 14-bits
Type: Analog Devices AD9736 
Bandwidth: 1st Nyquist

Front Panel Trigger Inputs

Quantity: 1 or 2 via 2 or 4 SSMC connectors
Type: LVDS 100 Ω differential terminated (LVPECL as factory build option)
Master/Slave:  Single common trigger for all DACs (default)
Independent: Independent trigger for each set of four DACs (factory build option)


Quantity: 1 or 2 each via SSMC connector
Type: Single ended 50 Ω terminated
Input Power Range: -6 dBm to +8 dBm 
Master/Slave:  Single common clock for all DACs (default) 
Independent: Independent clock for each set of four DACs (factory build option)

Network Interface

Front panel SFP for fiber or copper Gigabit Ethernet
VITA 41.6 P0 interface for 1000BASE-KX Gigabit Ethernet
Onboard Gigabit Ethernet switch


Access to Virtex-6 FPGAs is available via custom JTAG cable assembly that interfaces with the standard Xilinx JTAG programming cable.


DDR3 SDRAM (2 fully independent banks per FPGA)
Size: 1 GB per front end bank, 512 GB total per back end bank
Bus Width: 64-bits per front end bank, 32-bits per back end bank
Speed: 400 MHz clock rate, 800 MT/s

QDRII + SRAM (2 fully independent banks for backend FPGA)
Size: 72Mbits per backend bank (144Mbits total)
Bus Width: 18-bits per bank
Speed: Up to 500MHz clock rate

Backplane I/O

VME Interface: 
V6A - master, slave, A32:D32, A32:BLT, A32:MBLT, A32:2eSST
V6D - slave only, A32:D32, A32:BLT16
VXS Interface: P0 connector supports 8X high speed serial links on the backplane
GPIO Interface: P2 connector
Rear Transition Module (Optional): For rear access to the board, a Rear Transition Module is available that provides connections for GPIO connections, network access, PPS and trigger signals

Front Panel I/O

Gigabit Ethernet via SFP+
CXP supporting 12 fiber optic at up to 6.4 Gb/s per link


Standard ANSI / VITA 1.1-1997 (R2003) VMEbus board, 6U x  4HP, single 0.8” slot
Optional VXS P0 connector for backplane I/O


+5v, +3.3V, +12V from backplane.  Power consumption is dependent on customer application.  Power estimation Model is provided as part of the Developers Kit.


Contact factory for additional performance details.