2/3/2004 - Much has been said and written about the opportunities that lay ahead for FPGAs, as programmable logic technology rapidly adopts capabilities previously available only in ASICs and ASSPs. However, until Altera’s (NASDAQ: ALTR) launch of the StratixTM II family – the industry’s first adaptable FPGA architecture – no other FPGA vendor has taken a fresh architectural approach and opened the door to new classes of applications. Featuring a new and unique logic structure, Stratix II devices break through performance, density, and cost barriers that have historically driven designers of high-bandwidth systems to use riskier alternative technologies. When planning their next-generation systems, designers can now look at the Stratix II family as a viable alternative to more costly and less flexible ASICs, ASSPs, microprocessors and digital signal processing (DSP) solutions that traditionally populate the rest of the printed circuit board (PCB).
Based on recent analyst surveys, FPGAs today address more than half of all ASIC designs by density and performance. With the launch of the Stratix II family – the biggest and fastest FPGAs in the market – that ratio will certainly increase. "It makes absolute sense to re-architect the base configurations of 90-nm based FPGAs and utilize all the improved capabilities made possible by the smaller process geometry," said Rich Wawrzyniak, senior market analyst, ASIC and SOC, Semico Research Corp. "Semico believes that anytime the underlying fabric of a device is made more powerful, there are potential large impacts in the target markets. Stratix II’s new architecture, combined with the 90-nm process, presents both significant performance and cost benefits long awaited by designers – especially ASIC designers – looking to cope with tight design cycle time and the need to reduce bill of materials cost."
New target applications for the Stratix II family include high-end chip rate processing in cellular base stations, multi protocol aggregation, QOS traffic management and image processing for high resolution displays – once ASIC domains and now addressable by Stratix II devices. Additionally, the Stratix II family has significant memory and performance bandwidth that makes it ideal for data processing on high performance line cards in a broad range of routers and edge switchers. Targeting more wireless base station applications, significant improvements were made to performance features that make Stratix II devices ideal for Voice over IP (VoIP) solutions gateways.
In addition to higher performance and efficiency, Stratix II family’s new logic structure is highly optimized for DSP-based designs. The adaptive logic module (ALM) includes a new adder capability that allows designers to implement complex adders and multipliers utilizing just two thirds the logic of prior generation FPGAs. Furthermore, Stratix II devices have more than three times the number of embedded DSP blocks, which operate up to 370-MHz, and offer dedicated multiplier and accumulator functions.
The Stratix II device family employs an innovative logic structure that eliminates the historical trade-off between performance and efficiency inherent in 4-input look-up table (LUT) structures. The ALM, the first significant breakthrough in SRAM FPGA logic structure in nearly a decade, allows inputs to be shared among adjacent logic functions. Built on the 90-nm process technology, the Stratix II family delivers a 50 percent increase in performance, more than double the density, a four times increase in digital signal processing (DSP) performance, all at half the cost of the first-generation Stratix family.
"Customers have expressed the need for a radical improvement in performance, capacity and cost in order for them to look beyond their traditional design platforms," said Erik Cleage, Altera’s senior vice president of marketing. "Combining the benefits of ASICs and ASSPs with the flexibility of FPGAs provides customers with the best of both worlds."
About the Stratix II Device Family
Stratix II FPGAs are the industry’s biggest and fastest FPGAs. Developed with an innovative new logic structure, Stratix II devices offer over twice the logic density and 50 percent higher performance at 40 percent lower cost than first-generation Stratix devices. Built on TSMC’s 90-nm, all-copper process, using low-k dielectric material on 300-mm wafers, the new Stratix II logic structure allows designers to conserve device resources by packing more functionality into a smaller area. For more information about Stratix II devices, please visit www.altera.com/stratix2.
Altera Corporation (Nasdaq: ALTR) is the world’s pioneer of 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 www.altera.com.
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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