High-Performance Image Acquisition and Processing System with MTCA.4

Fast evolution of high-performance cameras in recent years has made them promising tools for observing transient and fast events in large-scale scientific experiments. Complex experiments, such as ITER, take advantage of high-performance imaging system consisting of several fast cameras working in the range of visible and infrared light. However, the application of such devices requires a usage of high-performance data acquisition systems able to read and transfer large amount of data, reaching even 10 Gbit/s for a single camera. The MTCA.4 form factor fulfils the requirements of demanding imaging systems. The paper presents a first implementation of a complete image acquisition system built on the basis of MTCA.4 architecture, which is dedicated for the operation with high-resolution fast cameras equipped with Camera Link interface. Image data from the camera are received by the frame grabber card and transmitted to the host via the PCIe interface. The modular structure of MTCA.4 architecture allows connecting several cameras to a single MTCA chassis. The system can operate in two modes: with internal CPU installed in the MTCA chassis or with external CPU connected to the chassis with PCIe link.

The usage of the external CPU opens a possibility to aggregate data from different subsystems. The system supports precise synchronization with the time reference using Precise Timing Protocol (IEEE 1588). The timing modules ensure clock distribution and triggers generation on backplane lines. These allow synchronization of image acquisition from different cameras with high precision. The software support for the system includes low-level drivers and API libraries for all components and a high-level EPICS-based environment for system control and monitoring.