VME adapters boost spectroscopy performance

Many scientific applications demand high-performance, general-purpose processing. For example, in nuclear-magnetic-resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, multidimensional data acquisition, processing, and display in an icon-driven software environment are mandatory. In the past, developers of such systems have used off-the-shelf VME-based processors to control and process data. Now, however, developers are turning to workstations to boost the power of their systems.

VME adapters boost spectroscopy performance

Many scientific applications demand high-performance, general-purpose processing. For example, in nuclear-magnetic-resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, multidimensional data acquisition, processing, and display in an icon-driven software environment are mandatory. In the past, developers of such systems have used off-the-shelf VME-based processors to control and process data. Now, however, developers are turning to workstations to boost the power of their systems.

"Price/performance is always going to be better for a desktop system than for an embedded CPU board," says John Malcomson, manager of Software Development at JEOL USA Inc. (Peabody, MA). That`s why the company has decided to replace an embedded VMEbus CPU in its Eclipse+ NMR spectrometer with an Indy workstation from Silicon Graphics Inc. (SGI; Mountain View, CA).

To provide an interface between the Indy workstation and the VMEbus card cage that houses all the controls for the NMR system, Malcomson chose the Model 607 Gio-to-VME bus adapter link from Bit 3 Computer (Minneapolis, MN). To access and control the adapter, JEOL USA used a Bit 3 IRIX software driver on the Indy workstation. Sample programs provided by Bit 3 and written for the IRIX operating system also helped JEOL USA modify the device driver for the spectrometer.

"Moving to the Indy allows JEOL USA to keep pace with workstation development without compromising the investment in several custom-built VME boards. With the SGI workstation, the Eclipse provides about five times the processing power of its predecessor," says Malcomson. By supporting extended-mode DMA transfers, the Bit 3 adapter increased performance on the VME bus by about 10 times. Bit 3`s bus adapter also allows JEOL USA engineers to upgrade the Eclipse with next-generation workstations as they become available from Silicon Graphics. For information, contact John Malcomson at (508) 535-5900.

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