Sunday, 15 June 2014

Nice Terasic PCIe 3.0 FPGA board

I do like the look of this board, the Terasic TR5-Lite even if it is not quite as sexy as a Triumph TR5 from my birth year. Any feedback on the actual use of one of these would be most welcome.

Stratix V, half height, half length with a firewire (1394) shaped 422 connector for timing input. Direct connectivity to the dual SPF+s. 36MB QDRII+, 2GB DRAM and PCIe 3.0 capable from the x8 edge connector makes it look good for HFT.

It uses a Altera Stratix® V GX FPGA (5SGXEA7N2F45C2) so you get 622k logic elements. Dunno what it is, but the board just looks nice and elegant. It only seems to have 4 user controllable LEDs  and five status LEDs, so Mike Dini wouldn't approve[1].

Whilst an Arria V or Kintex-7 solution would be better value for 10G, Terasic seems to have put together almost the perfect minimal FPGA HFT package here. I'm still thinking a Zynq-7100 based board with its useful ARM is a better idea overall though.



  1. Would be interesting to hear your thoughts on Metamako.

  2. Brilliant bunch of guys. Not too sure what they're up to in detail. Haven't visited their office. Impressed with the spec's of the Connect, especially the extra features, packet stats and timing. I was surprised when they announced the device with its packet stats. Pretty awesome. I think another killer feature for a trader is replacing a bunch of expensive packet timing cards with the MetaConnects. I avoid talking about them due to my legal woes and I don't want former employees or partners of Zepto to suffer any taint from myself as they deserve better.

    A very useful feature for such MetaConnect devices is in the regression test lab. You can reconfigure and run detailed latency tests, all configured by bash. At Zepto we used to do that and keep all the stats in graphite. Reconfiguring the network hardware for every unit test is handy. It was cool to know what commit caused a 100ns latency hit. I'll be getting one for exactly that once I find a place to work.

  3. Very useful to hear! Thanks so much for finding the time to answer my ambiguous question. I didn't realize the association between Metamako and Zeptonics but I did see that they were an Australian company (they were in NYC for the STAC summit) so I figured you may have useful color. I've indeed been looking for a substitute for the Endace DAGs for timestamping and it's reassuring to see your support for the product. Please feel free to delete your response and my question as I don't wish to incur any risk exposure for you.

    1. No problem. Not all the staff are ex-Zepto and I don't think there is any need to delete the conversation as the guys and gals there who are ex-Zepto are good independent people with nothing to shy away from. Naturally I'm biased as I know many there and hope they do well.

      Please remember I haven't used a Connect myself and I'm just impressed with the specs and team behind it. It is unique. I do know some people using them in production and they seem happy.

      The interesting thing is that you could save a bunch of money with the devices for testing, hands free ops and timing. So, I think the use cases jump off the page for people like yourself who are smart enough to understand that such simplicity, with just a new nanos of overhead, breeds a lot of interesting architectural scenarios. There should be such a device at the top of every rack.