Altium Releases JTAG Interface for Third-Party FPGA Development Board

10/26/2004 - Altium Limited (ASX: ALU), a leading developer of Windows-based electronics design software, announced the release of a new universal JTAG interface that makes it possible for engineers to use the full LiveDesign capabilities of Altium’s Nexar system-level FPGA development software with virtually any third-party FPGA development board. The interface makes it easy for developers to use their existing FPGA development boards to interactively design and debug digital systems, including entire processor-based systems, on an FPGA using Nexar, without the need to specifically purchase a LiveDesign-enabled development board.

The universal JTAG interface attaches to the parallel port of a developer’s computer and features a set of flying leads that connect to the target development board. The interface supports two independent JTAG connections – one to the JTAG programming pins of the target FPGA and the other to four general I/O pins of the FPGA used to establish a secondary ’soft‘ JTAG chain inside the device. The soft JTAG chain is used by Nexar to communicate in real-time with active design elements such as its processor cores and virtual instruments in the circuit implemented inside the FPGA, facilitating interactive development and debug of the system.

The interface supports both the Xilinx ISE and Altera ByteBlaster cable standards, making it suitable for virtually any FPGA development board on the market. Altium will provide additional support for specific development boards on its website in the form of downloadable constraint files as well as documentation and example projects to allow engineers to get Nexar up and running immediately with the target development boards. This will be particularly useful for engineers and FPGA developers looking to evalutate the Nexar software and its LiveDesign capabilities prior to purchase. The interface can also be used with Protel, Altium’s board-level design system, to allow interactive FPGA hardware design on third-party development boards.

“Nexar and its LiveDesign methodology represents a breakthrough in FPGA-based systems design,” said Nick Martin, founder and Joint CEO of Altium. “The interactive nature of the LiveDesign process allows engineers to rapidly develop complete systems, including processor-based systems, on a programmable platform in a cost-effective and scalable way. With Altium’s universal JTAG interface, any engineer can now evaluate and use Nexar, and experience the benefits of the LiveDesign process with their existing FPGA development hardware.”

Altium believes that the release of the universal JTAG interface will extend the reach of Nexar, as engineers currently undertaking FPGA development can evaluate and utilize the full capabilities of the software without the need to acquire significant additional hardware.

Pricing and availability
The universal JTAG interface is able to be ordered immediately, and shipping is expected to commence from November 8, 2004. Existing Nexar and Protel license holders can purchase the cable for the cost of shipping only.

For engineers wishing to evaluate Nexar, the universal JTAG interface will be available as part of the third-party edition of the new LiveDesign Evaluation Kit, which will be priced at US$49 and includes a 30-day, Unified Nexar-Protel 2004 software evaluation license with unlimited functionality.

The interface will be supplied with all new and upgrade licenses of Protel and Nexar at no extra cost. Both Nexar and Protel software licenses are priced at US$7,995 respectively. A Unified Nexar-Protel 2004 software licence is also available for US$9,995. Protel 2004 users can upgrade their license to this system starting at US$2,995.

For more information, visit or contact your local Altium sales and support center.

About Altium Limited
Altium Limited (ASX: ALU) is a global developer and supplier of electronics design software for the Microsoft Windows environment. Founded in 1985, Altium released the world's first Microsoft Windows–based printed circuit board design tool in 1991 and continues to provide advanced, easy-to-use and affordable software design tools to electronics engineers, designers, and developers worldwide. Altium's products offer tailored solutions covering a range of hardware and software design processes including the Nexar, Protel, P-CAD and TASKING brands. Altium is headquartered in Sydney, Australia and has sales and support offices in Australia, the United States, Japan, Europe and China. More information is available at

Altium, CAMtastic, CircuitStudio, Design Explorer, DXP, LiveDesign, NanoBoard, NanoTalk, Nexar, nVisage, P-CAD, Protel, Situs, TASKING, and Topological Autorouting and their respective logos are trademarks or registered trademarks of Altium Limited or its subsidiaries.

Previous Page | News by Category | News Search

If you found this page useful, bookmark and share it on: