Cuda GPU enables digitiser with ultra-long signal averaging

November 15, 2018 //By Nick Flaherty
Cuda GPU enables digitiser with ultra-long signal averaging
PC tester specialist Spectrum Instrumentation has developed a technique to use parallel processing across graphics processors to boost signal acquisition and averaging.

Signal averaging plays a crucial role in applications where signal details, hidden in random noise, need to be extracted and analyzed, adn the Spectrum’s CUDA Access for Parallel Processing (SCAPP) combines the company’s digitiser products with any CUDA-based GPU card. SCAPP gives users the ability to port data directly to the GPU, using RDMA (Remote Direct Memory Access) transfers, where high-speed time and frequency domain signal averaging can be performed without the length limitations typically found in other averaging products.

he averaging package will be of interest to anybody working with signals that are low level or where signal details are lost due to high amounts of noise. This includes applications such as mass spectrometry, LIDAR, radio astronomy, automation, radar, biomedicine, sonar and many more.

Up until now, engineers and scientists wanting to perform signal averaging had three basic choices. They could purchase a digital oscilloscope, which includes the averaging capability. They could buy a digitiser card and use it to send the digitised data to a PC, where host processor would perform the averaging task. Or they could purchase a specialized digitiser that performs the averaging function on-board using Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) technology. However, when it comes to handling the averaging process for long signals, all three of these techniques have limitations.

Digital scopes typically use 8bit analogue to digital converters (ADCs) which restricts an acquisition’s Signal-to-Noise Ratio (SNR). Furthermore, the on-board averaging capability is often constrained by small processing systems and limited on-board memory. Fast digitisers can generally offer much higher ADC resolutions and more memory. However, porting the data to a PC usually hampers the unit’s acquisition speed and can tie up the host processor while it performs the transfer and averaging functions. Finally, digitisers that employ FPGA technology need large and expensive FPGAs in order to average even moderate waveform sizes. FPGA-based averaging packages are usually expensive and only handle limited acquisition record lengths.

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