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Product category: Programmable Logic Devices
News Release from: Actel Europe
Edited by the Electronicstalk Editorial Team on 13 June 2003

More online info on FPGAs

Note: A free brochure or catalogue is available from Actel Europe about its services. Click here to request a copy.

Actel has expanded its online resource centre to include comprehensive information on power consumption, "green" packaging and neutron-induced firm errors

The web-based resource centre provides customers, design engineers and managers with information on issues that directly affect users of FPGAs and ASICs. Launched in September of last year to provide information on design security issues and increase the awareness of design theft, the website includes technology tutorials, FAQs, market overviews, application notes, white papers, extensive glossaries of industry terms, and links to other relevant articles and third-party resources.

Additional topics and issues will be added as appropriate.

"With the addition of the new materials, we believe that the Actel Resource Centre will serve as a comprehensive and technical one-stop site for designers who need the latest information on issues relevant to the industry", said Barry Marsh, Vice President of Product Marketing at Actel.

"The initial launch of the site demonstrated that Actel is a leading authority on security issues and we believe that our technology leadership in the new topic areas further solidifies the site as a valuable resource.

We're committed to maintaining this value by updating the materials and leveraging third-party materials to provide broad industry perspectives".

Design security, power consumption issues, neutron-induced firm errors, and green packaging were selected as the four key subject areas of the site due to their increasing importance in the industry.

Cost-effective, user-programmable FPGAs offer a highly attractive alternative to traditional ASICs for implementing complex design functions.

With the increase in FPGA adoption, devices have grown in size and complexity, thereby making the need for secure logic devices more apparent.

More often than not, the key intellectual property (IP) which differentiates the system from competitive offerings is housed in programmable logic.

Given these trends, the vulnerability of each system's unique value-added characteristics is often a direct function of an FPGA's security capabilities.

Power management issues are increasingly critical to designers as system designs become smaller and portable designs continue to grow at a substantial rate.

The power dissipation of the individual components in the system lead to the sizing of the power supplies, the type of cooling required and the size of the enclosure.

Using low power consuming devices can greatly reduce the overall total system power requirement, which is directly related to system cost.

As a result, designers are turning to solutions with advanced power capabilities, such as Actel's nonvolatile FPGAs, which are live at power-up, thereby helping to avoid inrush current spikes; simplify system power supply design; and generally deliver lower standby and dynamic power consumption than competing solutions.

Firm errors occur when high-energy neutrons generated in the upper atmosphere strike the configuration cell of an SRAM FPGA.

The energy of the collision can change the state of the configuration cell and thus change the logic and/or routing of the FPGA in an unpredictable and uncontrollable way.

As a result, these errors are impossible to prevent when using SRAM FPGAs, costly to detect and could result in system failure.

With solutions such as Actel's nonvolatile FPGAs, the configuration element of device cannot be altered once programmed, making firm errors nonexistent.

"Green" packaging solutions comply with global environmental initiatives aimed at replacing lead in the manufacturing process of electronic devices.

A "green" package is defined as being free of lead, halogenated compounds and antimony oxides.

Japan, the first country to manufacture lead-free assemblies, requires all semiconductors manufactured in that country to have lead-free packaging.

The majority of Japanese-based companies insist that vendors comply with these regulations.

In addition, environment-conscious initiatives in Europe and the USA are gaining momentum as well.

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