Altera Launches Embedded Initiative with New System Level Integration Tool for Embedded Systems Configurability
To accelerate the integration of programmable logic and processors in embedded systems, Altera Corporation today announced its Embedded Initiative. With this initiative, Altera is providing designers a single FPGA design flow based on its Quartus® II development software—including the new Qsys system-level integration tool, a common FPGA intellectual property (IP) library, and new ARM® Cortex™-A9 MPCore™ and MIPS® Technologies MIPS32 embedded processor offerings. The design flow allows embedded designers to quickly and easily target Altera's Nios® II, ARM- and MIPS-based embedded processors and the recently announced configurable Intel® Atom™-based processor. The Qsys system-level integration tool leverages the industry's first FPGA-optimized network-on-a-chip technology to support a wide variety of industry-standard IP protocols, improved quality of results and numerous productivity features.
“The combination of FPGAs and processors is rapidly expanding to create new levels of customization in embedded systems design,” said Vince Hu, vice president of product and corporate marketing, Altera Corporation. “With the Embedded Initiative, Altera is enabling designers in markets such as automotive, industrial, military and wireless to easily leverage a rich ecosystem of processor, operating system and IP support all through a single design flow, and to reduce overall system cost, achieve faster time to market and increase the flexibility of their systems.”
As part of its initiative, Altera will expand its current embedded partner programs by embracing the broad ecosystems from ARM, Intel and MIPS Technologies, as well as the FPGA world. In addition, Altera will collaborate with these entities to enhance the design flow and allow access to the growing number of FPGA-enabled embedded processing choices.
Intel recently unveiled details of an upcoming new configurable Atom-based processor. The processor consists of the Intel Atom processor E600 series paired with an Altera® FPGA on a multi-chip package. The package provides additional flexibility for customers who want to incorporate proprietary I/Os or acceleration, and enables developers to differentiate their designs by reacting quickly to changing requirements.
“Flexibility is critical for embedded designers, and FPGA technology offers an additional option,” said Doug Davis, vice president and general manager, Embedded Communications Group, Intel. “Intel recently announced the integration of an Altera FPGA on a multi-chip package with an Intel Atom-based processor to continue to offer intelligent and flexible solutions for embedded developers.”
As part of today's news, Altera unveiled it signed earlier this year an agreement with ARM Ltd. to license a range of technologies, including the Cortex-A9 microprocessor. Altera will deliver products that integrate hardened Cortex-A9 processor-based subsystems with 28-nm FPGA technology. More detailed information on these ARM processor-based devices will be made available in 2011.
“ARM recognizes the importance of the FPGA community and is keen to work with our partners to provide the flexibility that embedded designers require,” said Eric Schorn, vice president of marketing, processor division, ARM. “By combining ARM's leadership in low-power, high-performance processor IP, with Altera's expertise in FPGA technology, we can provide an additional dimension of flexibility with a common software flow to accelerate the development of numerous applications for software developers and hardware designers alike.”
Altera has also broadened its portfolio of soft processor cores and will introduce the MP32 soft processor core based on MIPS Technologies' MIPS32 processor architecture in early 2011. The MP32 is a result of close collaboration between Altera, MIPS Technologies and lead customers over the past year. It will complement Altera's Nios II embedded processor and the portfolio of partner soft CPUs available for Altera devices, and significantly extend the number of operating systems and the amount of application code available for use on FPGAs.
“We're pleased that through its MIPS32 architecture license, Altera is offering the MP32 soft CPUs, which can provide tremendous architectural flexibility for today's multi-core designs,” said Art Swift, vice president of marketing for MIPS Technologies. “As the integration of processors and programmable logic accelerates, having the MIPS32 architecture available on the Altera platform is a great option for embedded designers.”
Later this quarter, Altera will deliver the Qsys system integration tool, as part of the Quartus II development software. Incorporating the industry's first FPGA-optimized network-on-a-chip technology, Qsys will be able to offer memory-mapped and datapath interconnects that achieve nearly double the performance of Altera's SOPC Builder tool, while being able to support industry-standard IP interfaces, such as AMBA. Qsys will leverage the easy-to-use interface of SOPC Builder and provide backwards compatibility for easy migration of existing embedded systems. Furthermore, this advanced interconnect technology will support hierarchical design, incremental compile and partial reconfiguration methodologies. More details on Qsys and the Embedded Initiative will be available later this quarter.