2008-11-04 Bitstream mode

The new project its temperature sensor (tsens) ASIC is basically a Delta Sigma analog-to-digital converter. What it basically comes down to, is that the ASIC measures temperature differences as a 1-bit value. Through calculations, a temperature comes out but that raw 1-bit value can still be read for verification purposes.

For the coming radiation test, we'll read out lots of things and among them we will be reading out the raw stream of bits.

The FPGA needs to be set in a particular mode for this:

When this is done, the register buffer_read needs to be read out regularly to make sure the buffer doesn't overflow. The command to read out the buffer can now contain four 32-bit words.

Now it's a given that the time for measurements after radiation is very short since the samples can't be out of the radiation too long (otherwise you invalidate the test). Thus we have 60 seconds to do a measurement.

Read 64 seconds, get 8222 bits per readout, you'll get 16444 32-bit words.
Each seconds, for 0.1 second a measurement is done of 8222 bits.
The rest of the second, the tsensor stops measuring and we can read out the buffer. With a buffer packet size of four 32-bits words means 4111 times reading out 128 bits.

A nice thing about the buffer is that it's so big: a whole whopping megabyte is reserved just for the bitstream that comes out of the temperature sensor. If you don't want to disturb the process with communications from the PC, then just let the buffer fill up, wait for a minute and retrieve the whole buffer in one fell swoop.