CompactPCI controllers and CompactPCI processors are rugged, high-speed computer boards and single board computers used in industrial test and measurement applications. These devices connect to buses and system components that feature CompactPCI (cPCI), a high-performance standard based upon peripheral component interconnect (PCI) technology, and PCI eXtensions for instrumentation (PXI). Unlike PCI buses, which support only four slots, CompactPCI buses support 8 slots and can be expanded by using PCI-PCI bridges. CompactPCI controllers and CompactPCI processors are used to manage network data transfers, registers, triggers, and direct memory access (DMA). They also control the interrupt requests (IRQs) that computers receive from external devices such as test and measurement equipment.

Selecting CompactPCI controllers and CompactPCI processors requires an analysis of available controller types. PC or remote controllers allow users to manage test and measurement systems from networked personal computers. Typically, PC controllers use general-purpose, commercially available operating systems. Embedded controllers fit in a CompactPCI or PXI chassis, connect to other system components, and provide direct access to system devices and resources such as memory, triggers, and IRQs. Consequently, embedded controllers do not require an external command module. Real-time embedded controllers are available, but require a specialized operating system capable of real-time processing.

CompactPCI controllers and CompactPCI processors include basic random access memory (RAM) or RAM variants such as SRAM, DRAM, and SDRAM. These devices use form factors popularized by the VersaModule Eurocard (VME) bus, and provide several types of ports and interfaces. Devices with a 3U form factor are 100 mm x 160 mm and have one 96-pin DIN connector that plugs into the backplane. Devices with a 6U form factor are 233mm x 160mm and have two 96-pin DIN connectors. In terms of ports, some CompactPCI controllers and CompactPCI processors use serial RS232, RS422, or RS485 interfaces. Other devices connect to a parallel port, a universal serial bus (USB), a general-purpose interface bus (GPIB), or a Personal Computer Memory Card International Association (PCMCIA) device. 

Some CompactPCI controllers and CompactPCI processors are hot swappable, include a video adaptor or port, and feature a watch dog timer that provides a reset signal to restart malfunctioning test and measurement systems. Other CompactPCI controllers and CompactPCI processors connect to a keyboard or a mouse, provide on-board Flash or electrically erasable programmable read-only memory (EEPROM), and are certified by organizations such as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). CompactPCI controllers and CompactPCI processors are used in a variety of industrial applications including computer telephony, industrial automation, real time data acquisition, real-time machine control, and instrumentation.


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