Actel Adds More Info to Web-Based ASIC, FPGA Resource Center

6/10/2003 - Actel Corporation (Nasdaq: ACTL), a supplier of innovative programmable logic solutions, announced the company has expanded its Actel Resource Center to include comprehensive information on power consumption, "green" packaging and neutron-induced firm errors. The Web-based resource center provides customers, design engineers and managers with information on issues that directly affect users of field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) and application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs).

Launched in September of last year to provide information on design security issues and increase the awareness of design theft, the Web site 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 Center 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.

Security Issues
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
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 in-rush current spikes; simplify system power supply design; and generally deliver lower standby and dynamic power consumption than competing solutions.

Neutron-Induced Firm Errors
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 the device cannot be altered once programmed, making firm errors nonexistent.

Green Packaging
"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 U.S. are gaining momentum as well.

About Actel
Actel Corporation is a supplier of innovative programmable logic solutions, including field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) based on antifuse and flash technologies, high-performance intellectual property (IP) cores, software development tools and design services targeted for the high-speed communications, application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) replacement and radiation-tolerant markets. Founded in 1985, Actel employs approximately 500 people worldwide. The Company is traded on the Nasdaq National Market under the symbol ACTL and is headquartered at 955 East Arques Avenue, Sunnyvale, Calif., 94086-4533. Telephone: 888-99-ACTEL (992-2835). Internet:

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