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Altera balances features, price point in new Arria GX

Posted: 09 May 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:transceiver-based FPGA? Altera Arria GX? Stratix II GX?

Ali: The biggest challenge in developing these devices was balancing the features and the price.

With the unveiling of its latest transceiver-based FPGA family today, Altera Corp. claims it has succeeded in treading the thin line between feature set and price point.

The new Arria GX is a five-member series of "risk-free, low-cost, transceiver-based FPGA devices," according to Razak Mohammedali Ali, Altera's product marketing manager for Asia-Pacific. "The biggest challenge in developing these devices was balancing the features and the price."

Essentials only
The new FPGA series leverages the infrastructure and transceiver technology of Altera's higher-end Stratix II GX, but pared down the number of protocols supported to the three essentialsPCIe, GbE and RapidIOresulting in devices that deliver the flexibility of more pricey FPGAs, at a cost that's closer to that of ASSPs, according to Ali.

By focusing on the three mainstream protocols used in systems already shipping in volume today, the Arria GX series is particularly suitable for cost-sensitive, high-volume applications. They essentially fill the gap between fully flexible but costly transceiver FPGAs, and ASPPs that are low-cost but not programmable.

'Excellent fit' for Asia
This middle-ground approach makes Arria GX an "excellent fit" for the volume-manufacturing-driven design environment in Asia, Ali said, "because they are cost-optimized and are targeting applications that are already shipping in volume."

The Arria GX series is comprised of five transceiver FPGAs with 21,580 to 90,220 logic elements and up to 4.5Mbits of memory and 12 transceivers. They support PCIe (x1 and x4), GbE and serial RapidIO (x1 and x4) at 1.25Gbps and 2.5Gbps data rates. Complementing these three protocols are parallel I/O bandwidths of up to 840Mbps LVDS and up to 33MHz DDR/DDR2. To optimize signal integrity, these devices come in flip-chip packages.

Arria GX transceiver-based FPGA from Altera

Altera provides an extensive suite development tools to ease high-speed designs using Arria GX FPGAsQuartus II v.7.1, which includes the TimeQuest SDC-based timing analyzer and the SOPC Builder; protocol-compliant IP core functions and reference designs; and, protocol-specific development kits.

The company also provides system-level support through its Regional Support Centers in North America, Europe and Asia. As with the Stratix II GX family, the Arria GX series is manufactured in the high-yielding 90nm technology of TSMC, Altera's long-time fab partner, assuring customers of steady supply.

Shipping June '07
The first production-qualified Arria GX devices will begin shipping in June. Prices start at $50 for the 50,000-logic element model in 25,000-unit volume. All Arria GX devices will be shipping in production by September 2007. The Arria GX Development Kit is currently available for ordering through the company's online store.

Both the Subscription Edition and free Web Edition of Quartus II v. 7.1 are available for download. The annual software subscription is $2,000 for a node-locked PC license.

- Christine Telesforo
EE Times-Asia

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