Electronic Lab - I.N.F.N. Cagliari


NA60 is a CERN experiment on the SPS beam-line which has been approved to study prompt dimuons and charm productions with protons and heavy ion beams. 
For details and documentation about the experiment, please refer to the NA60 CERN homepage.

NA60 aims to complement the measurements made by previous experiments of CERN's heavy ion program to clarify some open questions on quark gluon plasma physics. NA60 experimental equipment is inherited from NA50 experiment, in what concerns the muon spectrometer and the zero degree calorimeter. Beside that the vertex region is complemented with two new detectors, namely the Pixel Vertex Spectrometer and the Beamscope. Thanks to these new detectors NA60 will have a much better mass resolution than NA50 and will allow to distinguish between different dimuon sources reconstructing the secondary vertexes. In particular it will be possible distinguish between promt dimuons and dimuons originating from the decay of charmed mesons.

The NA60 data acquisition system is a scalable one and is based on the PCI architecture. This offers several advantages whit respect to a VME approach (as it was in NA50) in what concerns costs and performance. For further details refer to NA60 Status Report.

The main element of this system is a custom PCI card, the PCI-FLIC, developed by the CERN'S EP/ED-DTb division. This card contains a programmable logic (ORCA FPSC) and a 32 Mbyte SDRAM which will be used as a local buffer and has to be connected to another one (called mezzanine) to interface the detectors.

The basic idea is that the PCI-FLIC is common to all the detectors, while the mezzanine is specific. This also means that the programmable logic on the PCI-FLIC will contain blocks common to all the detectors (interface with the PCI bus, SDRAM controller) and detector-specific blocks (interface with the mezzanine).

During the five seconds-long SPS burst, when events are produced, data are taken by the programmable logic from the detector (via the mezzanine), framed into a specific format and put on the local memory. Afterwards, during the interburst, data are taken from local RAM, and sent to the Central Data Recording.

The programmable logic on the PCI-FLIC has been programmed by members of Cagliari group and CERN's EP/ED-DT. In particular detector specific blocks (including the logic used to format the data) have been developed by the Cagliari group, while common blocks have been developed in cooperation.

As we have already mentioned the PCI-FLIC card will be connected to the detectors via a detector-specific mezzanine, the complexity of which highly depends on the detector. Two mezzanine cards have been developed for the readout of two specific detectors:

  • muon spectrometer (RMH mezzanine)
  • pixel telescope (Pixel Readout Board mezzanine).


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