Recently, a researcher approached XIA looking to interface aspects of their Pixie-16 data acquisition system to external equipment. While each Pixie-16 module can produce custom logic signals based on user-defined criteria, accessing and combining such signals from multiple Pixie-16 modules requires external hardware. In this case, the user wanted real-time access to the custom logic signals from multiple modules, such that the signals could be viewed on an oscilloscope or interfaced to an external multiplicity counter or other equipment.
XIA responded by developing an interface accessory which solves the researcher’s problem and provides real-time access to Pixie-16 logic signals in a flexible manner. Code-named MZTIO (MicroZed-based Trigger I/O), this accessory is, in essence, a ‘breakout’ board for the Pixie-16 PXI chassis backplane. Clock and logic signals generated by the Pixie-16 system are routed to a Zynq SoC supporting 1588 PTP time synchronization, where they can be combined in a user-programmable fashion via open source firmware/software, before being output to LVDS connections on the front panel. Alternate output connections can be accommodated via custom I/O daughtercards.
The MZTIO accessory enhances the Pixie-16 data acquisition system by providing a flexible and customizable real-time interface to external systems. A draft brochure, manual, and firmware & software is available for download. For more information, please contact XIA.
XIA is advancing nuclear spectroscopy with the introduction of a new suit of products with Precision Timing Protocol (PTP) and Network Synchronization capability. The Pixie-Net is the first of the PTP-compatible digital pulse processor products, with others to follow in the coming months.
Large nuclear physics experiments currently use dedicated cabling to precisely synchronize time between electronics modules, which becomes cumbersome and costly as experiments become larger and more physically separated.
Supported by the Department of Energy, XIA is reducing circuit complexity by implementing synchronization over Ethernet compatible with the IEEE 1588 Precision Time Protocol, synchronous Ethernet (SyncE), and the higher performance “White Rabbit” project from CERN. XIA’s initiative will enable researchers to synchronize detector readout electronics in physically separated systems. This will simplify large nuclear physics experiments, by reducing cabling requirements and by making it easier to merge data streams from different systems (since tagged with universal date/time).
Beyond nuclear physics research, the technique may be used in homeland security (e.g. synchronizing portal monitors) or astrophysics (e.g. synchronizing arrays of cosmic ray detectors).
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