Digital Processing Solutions


Multifunction Control Electronic Board With ARM microcontroller and FPGA

Plugin is the Scanteq’s hardware and firmware solution for complex real time control systems integrating a fast ARM microprocessor, a powerful FPGA (Field Programmable Logic Array) and specific peripherals. Plugin can be effectively used in a wide variety of industrial equipment requiring high computing power, embedded hardware and firmware implementation and analog and digital interfaces in order to realize functions appropriate to different applications, for example:

 Direct Torque or Space Vector motor control drives

 Step motor control drives

 Complex power converters

 Thermal and ink-jet printer heads control systems

The integration of the Plugin technology allows our customers to maintain their focus on the development of the behaviors specific to their application and not loose precious time developing and debugging a complex control board. Using this strategy they not only increase the value-added of the products and reduce drastically the release time, but also obtain a much lower development cost.

Fast ARM microcontroller with reach peripherals

After a careful study of the market purposes Scanteq’s technicians have chosen for the core of the Plugin board the NXP LPC4078FBD144 microcontroller.

Its control unit is an ARM Cortex-M4 processor for embedded applications requiring a high level of integration and low power dissipation. It includes enhanced debug features, incorporates a 3-stage pipeline, uses a Harvard architecture with separate instruction and data buses as well as a third bus for peripherals. The ARM Cortex-M4 supports single-cycle digital signal processing instructions and includes a hardware floating-point unit. The microcontroller operates at a frequency of up to 120 MHz and integrates flash memory accelerator to accomplish optimal performance when executing code from flash.

The LPC4078FBD144 includes a significant quantity of program and data embedded memories as well as EEPROM. Apart from that the microcontroller has a reach quantity of interfaces and controllers, timers, counters, PWMs, a real time clock, a watchdog timer, a CRC calculation engine and a high number of general purpose I/O pins. As analog peripherals it embeds one ADC, two analog comparators and a DAC.

High performance FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array)

The objective of the Plugin design was to be able to use it in complex control systems requiring configurable peripherals, therefore the adoption of a FPGA as the main digital element was included in the design specifications from the beginning.

Scanteq’s engineers have selected the Spartan 6 FPGA from Xilinx, one of the most advanced worldwide provider, due to the leading system integration capabilities of this device with the lowest cost for high-volume applications. Spartan-6 offers an efficient, dual-register 6-input lookup table (LUT) logic and a rich selection of built-in system-level blocks. These include 18 Kb block RAMs, second generation DSP slices, SDRAM memory controllers, enhanced mixedmode clock management blocks, SelectIO technology, power optimized highspeed serial transceiver blocks, PCI Express compatible Endpoint blocks, advanced system-level power management modes, auto-detect configuration options, and enhanced IP security with AES and Device DNA protection.

All these features allowed a harmonious integration of the FPGA with the ARM microcontroller and with the measurement peripherals, while a most of internal resources and I/O pins remain available to implementation of the application specific modules and functions.

Analog to digital converters

Scanteq’s engineers have designed the Plugin with the aim to provide it with all the peripherals needed to control complex equipment and measure in real time the signals required by the control algorithms. To accomplish this it includes analog to digital converters, a temperature sensor, an accelerometer sensor and many regulated switching power supplies.

The board embeds 28 inputs of fast analog to digital converters which are interfaced to the FPGA, allowing the acquired samples to be processed directly by the gate array chip or to be transferred to the ARM microprocessor for further processing. Slower analog inputs - 12 channels - use different converters which are connected to the microprocessor through an I2C bus. Other channels of these converters are employed in the measurement of the voltages generated by the onboard power supply. Apart from these converters on the board are available 5 inputs connected directly to the ADCs internal to the ARM.

A temperature sensor and a 3-axis accelerometer have been added in order to be able to make diagnosis, measuring the working temperature and the local vibration due to the power electronic components.

Besides the conversion interface the electronic board includes a multi-voltage power supply for the internal modules and two regulated outputs with 5V-12V / 3A for the external peripherals such as power drivers or fans.

Communication ports and peripherals

The Plugin board was designed considering that a modern control system must be able to communicate with a lot of peripherals through standard buses and to interact with the operator in an user friendly mode. To accomplish this behaviors Scanteq’s designers had integrated on the electronic board many ports and interfaces, such as:

External communication

• 10/100 Mbps Ethernet port

• USB Device interface with standard Mini-B connector

• USB Host interface with standard A connector

• Micro-SD Card connector

• 2 serial ports with RS232 levels

• serial port with RS485 levels

• CAN port

• I2C port

• SPI port

Input–output pins   

• 1 Reset and 3 buttons connected to ARM pins

• 3 LEDs connected to ARM pins

• 3 LEDs connected to FPGA pins

• 39 ARM I/O pins available for external use

• 65 FPGA I/O pins available for external use

Audio system

• Piezoelectric microphone

• Speaker

Display (available on request)

• 2.4" 320x240 color LCD

• Resistive touchscreen


• Real Time Clock with backup battery

• JTAG interfaces for ARM debugging

• JTAG interfaces for FPGA debugging

Developing resources and tools

The Plugin technology allows the user to develop both the ARM firmware and the FPGA code starting from examples and device drivers written in C and VHDL, respectively, by our engineers. The firmware was developed in the low cost LPCXpresso tool platform, available directly from NXP, while the FPGA code was made with the Xilinx ISE WebPACK Design Software.

Scanteq makes available to the clients the device drivers for the ARM peripherals. It deliver also a FPGA framework project including the code managing the peripherals driven by the gate array chip.

Technical Specifications:

Core unit: 120 MHz ARMCortex-M4 with hardware floating point unit and DSP extensions
Memory: 512 KB flash program memory, 96 KB SRAM data memory, 4032 byte of EEPROM, External Memory controller (EMC)
Interfaces and controllers: Ethernet, USB Device/Host/OTG, SPI Flash Interface (SPIFI), General Purpose DMA controller, five UARTs, three SSP controllers, three I2C-bus interfaces, a Quadrature Encoder Interface
Timers, counters and PWMs: four general purpose timers, two general purpose PWMs with six outputs each and one motor control PWM
RTC and watchdog: an ultra-low power RTC with separate battery supply and event recorder, a windowed watchdog timer
CRC engine: CRC calculation engine
Input - output: a high number of general purpose I/O pins
Analog peripherals: one eight-channel 12-bit ADC, two analog comparators, and a DAC
Case: TQFP144
XILINX Spartan 6 XC6SLX9TQG144
Cells: 9152 Logic Cells, 1430 Slices, 11440 Flip-Flops
Memory: 90 Kb Distributed RAM, 16 DSP48A Slices, 32 Kb + 576 Kb RAM Blocks
PLLs: 2 CMT blocks including 2 DCMs and one PLLs each
Memory controllers: 2 Blocks
Case: TQFP144
Fast AD Converters:
28 channels, 10 bit resolution, 1 MHz sampling rate, 0V to 3.3V input range, the converters are interfaced to the FPGA through a fast SPI interface
Slow AD Converters:
12 channels, 10 bit resolution, 70 kHz sampling rate, 0V to 3.3V input range, the converters are interfaced to the microprocessor through an I2C interface
ARM AD Converters:
5 channels connected directly to the ARM ADC inputs
10/100 Mbps port using SMSC LAN8720 PHY
Device interface with standard Mini-B connector
Host interface with standard A connector
SD Card:
Micro-SD connector wired to MCU's SD card interface
Serial Ports:
2 serial ports with RS232 levels
1 serial port with RS485 levels
1 CAN port
1 I2C port
1 SPI port
Input–Output Pins:
1 Reset and 3 buttons connected to ARM pins
3 LEDs connected to ARM pins
3 LEDs connected to FPGA pins
39 ARM I/O pins available for external use
65 FPGA I/O pins available for external use
Audio System:
Piezoelectric microphone and amplifier connected to the ARM ADC
Speaker driven by the ARM DAC and an audio amplifier
2.4" 320 x 240 color LCD driven through the microprocessor External Memory Controller
Resistive touchscreen
On-Board Measurement:
Power supply voltages: 12V (input voltage), VFAN, VDR, 5V, 3.3VD, 3.3VA, 1.2V
Temperature sensor: -40°C to +125°C
Accelerometer: 3-axis sensing with a minimum full-scale range of   +/-3G
Regulated Switching Power Supply:
VFAN: 5V-12V / 3A (for external fan)
VDR: 5V-12V / 3A (for external drivers)
Fixed Switching Power Supply:
5V 3A (for digital peripherals)
1.2V 1A (for FPGA core)
3.3VD 1A (for digital peripherals)
3.3VA 1A (for analog peripherals)
Real Time Clock with backup battery
JTAG interfaces for ARM debugging
JTAG interfaces for FPGA debugging
Board Dimensions:
140 mm x 150 mm