Altium Debuts NanoBoard Daughter Board for Xilinx Virtex-II Pro FPGA

11/2/2004 - Altium Limited (ASX: ALU), a leading developer of Windows-based electronics design software, announced a new plug-in daughter board supporting the Xilinx® Virtex®-II Pro FPGA as part of a comprehensive FPGA daughter board release for its LiveDesign-enabled FPGA-based development platform, the NanoBoard. Altium’s NanoBoard is unique among FPGA development boards in that the target device is housed on a swappable daughter board, allowing engineers to develop for a variety of devices using the same platform.

The new Virtex-II Pro daughter board incorporates a Xilinx XC2VP7-6FG456CTM FPGA that contains 11,088 logic cells arranged in 4,928 CLB slices. The device features a ‘hard’ Power PC® 405 processor core and four high-speed Rocket-IO transceivers to provide a high-performance, fully-embedded systems platform. Direct access to two of the Rocket-IO transceivers on the chip is provided by eight gold-plated coaxial connectors mounted across the top of the daughter board. The board comes with four coax loop-back connector cables for the transceivers, and includes Nexar design examples showing the use of the transceiver channels.

The Virtex-II Pro daughter board plugs into Altium’s NanoBoard, which interfaces to Altium’s Nexar design software that allows the interactive development of complete systems, including processor-based design, on an FPGA platform. The Nexar design methodology – LiveDesign – enables real-time communication with active devices in the circuit, such as processor cores and virtual instruments, that are running inside the target FPGA. The NanoBoard and target daughter board act as a nano-level breadboard that allows interactive, ‘live’ development and debugging of systems without the need for simulation at the system level. The NanoBoard can also be used with Altium’s Protel 2004 board-level design system for interactive FPGA hardware development.

Altium will provide complete design support for the new Virtex-II Pro in its Nexar development system. This includes a full embedded software development toolchain for the immersed Power PC core. Based on Altium’s professional-level TASKING Viper compliler framework, the toolchain includes a highly-optimizing C compiler and source-level debugger for the MCU. The software development toolchain is fully integrated with the Nexar development environment, allowing designers to fully utilize the core within the LiveDesign process. The Power PC core itself is represented in the system as a component that can be incorporated into the design at the block diagram level, and combined with the other FPGA-based components to facilitate rapid systems development.

Nexar also includes constraint files that map the FPGA pinout on the daughter board to the relevant NanoBoard resources, allowing easy targeting of a design for the Virtex-II Pro. The FPGA-based components supplied with Nexar, including its range of processor peripherals and generic logic blocks, have been pre-synthesized and pre-verified to support all target devices, including the Virtex-II Pro.

“With its integrated Power PC core, the Virtex-II Pro is a unique device with enormous potential in high-end systems development,” commented Nick Martin, founder and Joint CEO of Altium. “I believe that this new daughter board, combined with Nexar and its integrated, intuitive LiveDesign development methodology, unlocks the potential of this device for a wide cross-section of engineers and applications.”

Pricing and availability
Altium’s Xilinx® Virtex-II ProTM FPGA daughter board is priced at US$695 and is available immediately.

Altium’s NanoBoard is priced at US$995 and is currently delivered with two daughter boards – the Xilinx Spartan-IIE (XC2S300E-PQ208) and Altera® Cyclone® (EP1C12Q240C7).

Nexar is priced at US$7,995 for a new licence. A Unified Nexar-Protel 2004 software license is also available, providing complete FPGA-PCB systems development, and is priced at US$9,995. Protel 2004 users can upgrade their existing license to this system from US$2,995.

For more product 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

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