Actel's flash-based ProASIC Plus field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) have been selected for use within FAR Systems' Multifunctional Vehicle Bus (MVB) and Wire Train Bus (WTB) onboard railway communication products.
FAR Systems, the European market leader in railway onboard communication systems and supplier of Train Communication Network (TCN) products for use in critical transportation applications, has used the ProASIC Plus APA450 as the basis of its MVBCF chip, the industry's most highly integrated MVB controller solution.
According to Giulio Corradi, chief of research at FAR Systems, "Actel's ProASIC Plus FPGA provides all the features needed to satisfy the demanding requirements of railway communication systems that must comply with safety integrity levels. Satisfying key attributes of our systems – reliability, availability, maintainability, and safety – Actel's devices are live at power-up, inherently immune to firm errors and offer the security of design. Actel's flash-based ProASIC Plus technology plays a critical role in our success by allowing us to eliminate the external boot PROM, increase mean time before failure (MTBF) and reduce overall device count."
FAR Systems' MVBCF device provides all of the functions required to manage MVB data traffic and bus administration, including built-in self-test, watchdog, and interrupt control tasks. It provides MVB-based communications, typically on a PC104 board, for applications such as on-board air-conditioning, passenger information systems, driver desk and display, and diagnostic controllers.
Using the flash-based ProASIC Plus technology allows FAR Systems to achieve previously unattainable levels of integration. In particular, the MVBCF chip implements the MVB bus administrator in hardware. Previous devices relied on software implementations, which created jitter problems and imposed a severe burden on the host CPU. Actel's technology also reduces the power supply requirements. Unlike SRAM FPGA parts, flash-based devices do not demand large in-rush currents on power-up. This means that a single power supply is sufficient for the whole system, reducing cost and weight. Further, the supply does not need large reservoir capacitors, which can decrease reliability.
The ProASIC Plus family consists of devices ranging from 75,000 to 1 million system gates. The combination of a fine-grained, single-chip ASIC-like architecture and nonvolatile flash configuration memory makes Actel's ProASIC Plus offering a strong ASIC alternative. The devices are live at power-up, low power, highly secure, resistant to neutron-induced firm errors, and require no separate configuration memory, all characteristics shared by ASICs.
In addition to commercial and industrial versions, Actel's ProASIC Plus FPGAs are offered in military and Mil-Std 883B versions. The ProASIC Plus architecture and design methodology support popular FPGA and ASIC tool flows, reducing time to market and permitting designers to migrate easily between FPGA and ASIC solutions.
For more information on Actel and ProASIC Plus FPGAs, visit Actel's website at www.actel.com. For more information on FAR Systems, headquartered in Rovereto Italy, T.T division in Verona Italy, visit its Web site at www.farsystems.it.