Altera Adds Cyclone II FPGA Support to NIOS II Embedded Processor

6/30/2004 - Altera Corporation (NASDAQ: ALTR) announced Nios® II embedded processor support for the new CycloneTM II FPGA family, scoring a one-two punch in the embedded processor market. Consuming as little as $0.35 of logic, the combination of the Nios II embedded processor and the Cyclone II FPGA is 50 percent less than the nearest competing offering and is the lowest-cost soft-core processor solution in the industry. The Nios II embedded processor also delivers performance of more than 100 DMIPs in a Cyclone II FPGA, allowing designers to build a complete system on a programmable chip (SOPC) in a fraction of the time and with significantly less risk and cost compared to low- and mid-density ASICs.

This announcement follows on the popularity and success of the first-generation Cyclone FPGA and Nios embedded processor, which have been implemented in a variety of applications such as consumer digital displays, digital cameras, DVD players, set-top boxes, and computer peripherals. As the pressure rises for systems manufacturers to get to market quickly at the lowest possible cost, the increased densities and lower cost offered by Cyclone II FPGAs and Nios II embedded processors are expected to accelerate the use of programmable logic in these highly competitive markets.

“Cyclone FPGAs and the Nios embedded processor play a crucial role in our Hybrid Car-TV receiver that combines analog and digital video broadcast reception capabilities. Cyclone FPGAs provide us with an affordable solution for implementing the DSP functions required for TV reception, and the availability of multipliers in Cyclone II devices makes Altera’s low-cost FPGAs even more attractive for signal processing applications,” said Dr. Dirk Wendt, director of development at Hirschmann Electronics Group. “Further, Altera’s SOPC Builder enabled us to easily construct the exact Nios processor we needed to perform antenna control functions, and with the Nios II processor, we look forward to achieving even greater performance and improved resource efficiency.”

Advantages of a Soft-Core Embedded Processor
With life cycles for high-volume, low-cost products rapidly shrinking, system manufacturers have the added pressure of making sure they get to market quickly with the latest technology. Taking into account the lengthy development time for ASICs, standard off-the-shelf hard-core processors implemented in ASICs stand the risk of already being obsolete by the time the end-product is put on the shelf. Hence, OEMs are increasingly turning to FPGAs for the flexibility to build their systems and get to market quickly. Nios II processor-based solutions are obsolescence-proof, providing even more flexibility because they are constructed from HDL code that can be retargeted to address new system requirements. The ability to implement multiple soft processors in a single Cyclone II device helps to further reduce system costs, power requirements, and board space.

“The Nios II and Cyclone II combination is particularly potent for designers looking for a lower risk, less expensive alternative to stand-alone microcontrollers or low- to mid-density ASICs,” said Bob Garrett, senior marketing manager for Nios product marketing. “Developers can fully customize the CPU and peripherals and get exactly the processor they need, while optimizing system performance by leveraging the latest FPGA technology.”

About the Cyclone II Device Family
The second generation of Altera’s industry-leading, low-cost Cyclone FPGAs, Cyclone II devices offer 30 percent lower cost and more than three times the density of the first generation devices, extending Altera’s leadership in the low-cost FPGA market. In addition, the fastest Cyclone II devices are more than 50 percent faster than the nearest low-cost FPGA competitor. Leveraging the same customer-driven product definition process that has resulted in the overwhelming success of the original Cyclone family, Cyclone II devices offer the optimal combination of density and performance at the lowest cost. They also offer an expanded suite of features that will enable designers to leverage programmable logic flexibility in systems that have traditionally required low- to mid-density ASICs. For more information about Cyclone II devices, please visit

About the Nios II Family of Embedded Processors
Altera’s Nios II family of soft-core embedded processors is optimized for programmable logic and system-on-a-programmable-chip (SOPC) integration. With three Nios II cores and multiple FPGA device families to choose from, developers can accommodate a wide range of performance and price points, achieving performance over 200 DMIPs in Stratix® II FPGAs, and costs as low as $0.35 in Cyclone II devices. Nios II cores are general-purpose RISC processors that can be combined with user logic and programmed into an Altera® FPGA. The processor features a 32-bit instruction set, 32-bit data path, and configurable instruction and data caches. Nios II embedded processors are royalty free when used in Altera FPGAs and HardCopy® devices. An ASIC license is available for an additional charge. For more information, visit

About Altera
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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