Altium Supports Actel ProASIC Plus FPGAs with NanoBoard Platform

11/2/2004 - Altium Limited (ASX: ALU), a leading developer of Windows-based electronics design software, announced support for the ActelTM flash-based ProASIC PlusTM FPGA device family 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 addition of a ProASIC Plus daughter board is significant as it extends the range of device vendors supported by the system – it is the first Actel device to join the wide array of Altera and Xilinx FPGAs and CPLDs already supported – and strengthens the NanoBoard’s FPGA vendor–independent position, making it a truly universal programmable design platform.

The ProASIC Plus daughter board features an Actel APA600 device that contains the equivalent of 600,000 system gates. The device includes 126Kbits of embedded RAM, four global clock networks, two Phase-Locked Loops (PLLs), and support for four selectable I/O standards. The ProASIC Plus family of devices is popular with many engineers as it uses a nonvolatile flash-based technology, which means that it does not need an external configuration device. This has benefits to the designer in that the device is running from the moment it is powered up, and the IP contained within the device is more secure. With the release of the ProASIC Plus daughter board, Nexar designers can easily port their designs to the ProASIC Plus platform and take advantage of these benefits in their products.

The ProASIC Plus daughter board plugs into Altium’s NanoBoard, which interfaces to Altium’s Nexar design software, and allows the interactive development of complete systems, including processor-based designs, 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 the interactive FPGA hardware development.

“Altium believes that providing a device and FPGA vendor-independent design solution is a crucial factor in stimulating the use of programmable devices in mainstream design applications,” said Nick Martin, founder and Joint CEO of Altium. “From this perspective, the addition of Actel devices to our range of daughter boards is an important step in providing greater choice and enhanced design versatility to our customers.”

“For the first time, Altium customers have access to a flash-based FPGA design environment, enabling them to exploit the benefits of Actel’s nonvolatile, reprogrammable ProASIC Plus devices for their target products, said Saloni Howard-Sarin, director of Antifuse and Tools Marketing, at Actel. “It will also allow our customers to use the universal programmable Altium platform to shorten their design cycles and get their products to market faster.”

Altium will provide full design support for the Actel ProASIC Plus device in its Nexar and Protel development systems. This includes constraint files for the daughter board that map the FPGA pinout on the daughter board to the relevant NanoBoard resources, allowing easy targeting of a design for the ProASIC Plus devices. The FPGA-based components supplied with Nexar, including its range of processor cores, have been pre-synthesized and pre-verified to support all target devices, including the ProASIC Plus.

Pricing and availability
Altium’s Actel ProASIC Plus daughter board is priced at US$295 and is available for immediate ordering. Altium’s Nexar design system for FPGA-based digital systems development is priced at US$7,995.

Altium’s NanoBoard is priced at US$995 and is currently delivered with two daughter boards included – the Xilinx® Spartan®-IIE 300 and the Altera® CycloneTM 12. 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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