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65nm flash platform pushes out antifuse

Posted: 12 Nov 2010 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:SoC? 65nm flash platform? LUT architecture?

Microsemi Corp.'s SoC Products Divisionformerly Actel Corp.announced its 65nm embedded flash platform, which features an expandable, four-input look-up table (LUT) architecture.

Microsemi acquired Actel through a stock tender offer worth $430 million. Actel offered two types of FPGAs: those built with flash technology and those built with antifuse technology. According to Rich Kapusta, VP of marketing, SoC products group, Microsemi, the 65nm process means that going forward the division's new products will standardize on flash technology. At the same time, Kapusta stressed that Microsemi would continue to offer legacy antifuse products.

The announcement of the new flash platform demonstrates that Microsemi plans to continue to support continued product development of the former Actel, according to Kapusta. When Microsemi first announced plans to acquire Actel, analysts speculated that the company would support the continued development of antifuse products but not flash-based products. Microsemi executives have since said the company would support all Actel products, and the new flash-based platform shows that the company plans to continue to develop the flash technology, Kapusta said.

Kapusta said that one reason the company is standardizing on flash going forward is that antifuse technology does not scale as well as flash. "We now have the ability to offer everything that antifuse brings to the table but doing it in a reprogrammable technology," Kapusta said.

Kapusta noted that in choosing to call the former Actel unit its SoC Products Division, Microsemi is deliberately emphasizing more than just programmable logic. In recent years Actel had struggled with the designation because, though the company was offering through its Fusion and SmartFusion products capabilities that were broader than just programmable logic, Actel had always been known as an FPGA company, he said.

"Now that we are part of Microsemi, I think it's less important for us to be known as an FPGA company," Kapusta said. "They see themselves as a broad line semiconductor supplier, and Actel brings a very important piece to them."

Moving from the 130nm process of current products to 65nm will enable Microsemi FPGAs with higher density and performance and lower power consumption, Kapusta said. The platform will offer 65 percent lower dynamic power while enhancing the company's Flash*Freeze feature to provide lower static current, he said.

Future Microsemi FPGAs will include industry-standard bus interfaces and also allow integration of hardened intellectual property such as embedded microprocessor cores, DSP blocks, high speed transceivers, memory interfaces, nonvolatile flash memory and programmable analog, according to the company.

The devices will be built using a 65nm embedded flash process from foundry United Microelectronics Corp. Microsemi said it already has first commercial silicon, with availability expected in 1H 2011. The SoC Products Division is concurrently launching its customer lead program for early adopters in the commercial and industrial markets who want early access to emerging technology for their next generation designs, Microsemi said.

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