Altera Turns Night into Day for Intevac's Night-Vision Video Camera

8/5/2003 - Altera Corporation (NASDAQ: ALTR) announced that Altera CycloneTM FPGAs with embedded Nios® processors provide highly integrated control and processing functions for the NightVista line of compact, high-performance night-vision cameras from Intevac, Inc. (NASDAQ: IVAC). The Altera products replaced a digital signal processor (DSP)-based solution, delivering lower cost, reduced power consumption, and a high degree of integration, which enabled Intevac to shrink the NightVista form factor by over 50 percent. The Altera solution bolsters NightVista’s position as one of the most advanced night-vision video cameras currently available to commercial or military customers.

“Replacing an off-the-shelf DSP processor allowed us to reduce five separate boards of components to a single board occupied mainly by a Cyclone device running an embedded Nios processor,” said David Main, imaging specialist at Intevac. “The Altera-based approach reduced our component costs by at least 20 percent and decreased our power consumption to a fifth of what it had been. In addition, we are enjoying lower manufacturing costs and higher product reliability due to much simpler product architecture. These results, combined with the excellent support we are getting from our Altera distributor, Arrow Electronics, confirm that we made best choice by going with Altera.”

By choosing the Altera solution, Intevac also gained strategic benefits with respect to current and future design efforts. Despite being first-time Nios processor users, Intevac was able to reduce design times and bring its product to market after only four months of development. Further, the FPGA re-programmability enables Intevac to modify or upgrade NightVista cameras in the field—opening its product roadmap significantly. Finally, Intevac is able to scale and reuse its proprietary Nios processor-based design, even retargeting it to other Altera FPGAs if desired, enabling the engineering team to leverage its development efforts for future products.

“The significant improvements in performance, cost, size, time-to-market, and reliability recognized by Intevac in their NightVista camera are a perfect example of the many benefits made possible by the combination of Cyclone FPGAs and Nios processors,” said Jeff Lamparter, director of the industrial and automotive business unit at Altera. “We are quite pleased to have contributed to the success of Intevac on such an innovative and unique product.”

Intevac will demonstrate the NightVista technology at this week’s National Technical Investigators (NATIA) conference in Tampa, FL (August 5–7, 2003), booth # 219.

About NightVista
With a camera body that fits into a two-inch cube and power consumption of less than two watts, the NightVista is ideal for a wide variety of applications in industrial security, remote surveillance, portable monitoring systems, and legacy products where space is limited. For further information on NightVista cameras, please contact Commercial Imaging Sales at (408) 986-9888.

About the Nios Embedded Processor
Altera’s Nios embedded processor is the world’s most widely licensed soft-core embedded processor today. The Nios embedded processor is a general-purpose RISC CPU that can be combined with a wide array of peripherals, custom instructions, and hardware acceleration units to create a custom system-on-a-programmable-chip (SOPC) solution. The processor features a 16-bit instruction set and user-selectable 16- or 32-bit data paths, configurable for a wide range of applications. A typical 32-bit data path Nios processor consumes only $2.00 worth of logic in Altera’s low-cost Cyclone FPGAs, making it one of the lowest cost RISC processors available today. The Nios embedded processor is royalty free when used in Altera FPGAs and HardCopyTM devices. An ASIC license for OEM applications is available for an additional charge. For more information, visit

About the Cyclone Device Family
Built from the ground up to ensure the lowest possible cost, Cyclone devices are the industry's lowest-cost FPGAs available today. Built on the advanced 0.13-micron, all-layer copper process, Altera developed the Cyclone device family to provide designers of high-volume, price-sensitive applications the flexibility of an FPGA at ASIC prices. With support for leading edge and emerging I/O standards, the Cyclone device family includes embedded RAM blocks and other features to put FPGA technology in the hands of designers developing volume-driven applications in the automotive, consumer, and computing markets. For more information about the Cyclone device family, visit

About Intevac
Intevac is developing revolutionary intensified imaging products that address potentially large commercial and military markets. Intevac’s intensified imaging products are high-speed electro-optical devices that detect light with extraordinary sensitivity. The company's proprietary technology makes possible products such as LIVAR, a long-range target identification system, and video cameras with night vision capability. The company also produces sophisticated equipment used in the manufacture of high technology products. Intevac’s equipment products are designed to deposit or modify highly engineered thin-films of material on a variety of substrates. These systems are designed for continuous high-volume manufacturing of precision thin-film products such as magnetic media for hard drives. For more information call (408) 986-9888 or visit the company’s web site at

About Altera
Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, Altera Corporation (NASDAQ: ALTR) is the world’s pioneer in system-on-a-programmable-chip (SOPC) solutions. Combining programmable logic technology with software tools, intellectual property, and technical services, Altera provides high-value programmable solutions to approximately 14,000 customers worldwide. More information is available at

Altera, The Programmable Solutions Company, the stylized Altera logo, specific device designations, and all other words that are identified as trademarks and/or service marks are, unless noted otherwise, the trademarks and service marks of Altera Corporation in the U.S. and other countries.

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