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EASA certifies avionics system tipping Altera processor

Posted: 23 Dec 2010 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:avionics system? embedded? processor?

A safety-critical avionics system just certified by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) includes a DO-254/ED-80-certifiable version of Altera Corp.'s Nios II embedded processor, the company announced.

Thales Avionics implemented a safety-critical version of the Nios II embedded processor in an Altera HardCopy ASIC for use in its family of integrated electronic standby instruments rather than developing a custom ASIC solution. Leveraging Altera's DO-254/ED-80-certifiable processor allowed Thales to significantly reduce overall system development time when developing their family of integrated electronic standby instruments.

Jerome Papineau, product manager at Thales Avionics, explained "When we began defining our integrated electronic standby instrument family, we determined it would be too costly and time consuming to develop a custom ASIC that meets the RTCA DO-254/Eurocae ED-80 objectives." He added that "The integration of a safety-critical Nios II embedded processor with a HardCopy ASIC saved nearly two years off our development while also saving considerable costs. The processor provides us with a compelling solution that meets our performance and system requirements while allowing us to manage system obsolescence. With its RTCA DO-254/Eurocae ED-80 level-B compliance determination, the Nios II embedded processor can be integrated into our system with confidence."

Altera's HardCopy ASICs offer customers a low-cost, low-risk and low-power migration path to take their FPGA prototype designs to volume production. The use of HardCopy ASICs provides Thales with improved single-event upset (SEU) immunity while also giving Thales pin-to-pin, functional and timing compatibility with the FPGA prototype design.

The development of a safety-critical version of Altera's Nios II soft-core processor is the result of the close partnership and cooperation between Thales, HCELL Engineering and Altera, which dates back to 2006. The RTCA DO-254/Eurocae ED-80 compliance package of the Nios II embedded processor provides avionics equipment manufacturers a commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) microprocessor that can be quickly and easily implemented in safety-critical avionics applications. Leveraging the Nios II embedded processor in these systems helps manufacturers comply with safety standards while dramatically lowering development time and costs and eliminating the threat of processor obsolescence.

"Today's announcement significantly reduces the risk barrier for customers wanting to implement a soft-core processor into their safety-critical avionics system," said Amr El-Ashmawi, senior marketing manager in Altera's military business unit. "Having the EASA certify Thales's integrated electronic standby instruments allow us to clearly demonstrate the significant reduction in cost, development time and risk that Altera's DO-254-certifiable Nios II processor provides."

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