Computer Laboratory

Computer Architecture Group

PCIe to SATA breakout board

This is a small 4-layer PCB intended to connect to a PCI Express card such as an FPGA board. It takes 8 PCI Express lanes and breaks them into SATA connectors (in the physical layer only, not using the SATA protocols). SATA cables are capable of 6Gbps and much cheaper than cabling designed for PCI Express. It provides power to the FPGA via a SATA power connector, which makes it easier to power arrays of FPGAs from a conventional PC power supply. There is also a JTAG connector compatible with the Altera USB Blaster, and a few low-speed signals from PCI Express (GPIOs on the FPGA) are on an additional SATA connector for supervisory functions.

We've used them with Terasic DE4 boards containing an Altera Stratix IV FPGA. In the Bluehive we use this to create a 'pluggable' network topology, where we can experiment with different ways of connecting multiple FPGA boards.

Download from the GitHub repository. Files are released under a 2-clause BSD licence.

This is the first version that had a few layout bugs (now fixed in github):

PCIe to SATA board front photo PCIe to SATA board rear photo

The Bluehive box which contains sixteen Terasic DE4 boards interconnected by the PCIe-to-SATA board:

Bluehive photo