SUNNYVALE, Calif. -- Actel Corp. here today announced it is increasing the performance and logic density of antifuse-based field programmable gate arrays with a new 0.25-micron process technology capable of delivering up to 108,000 system-level gates on a device.
The new SX-A series is intended to give one-time programmable, antifuse-based FPGAs a shot in the arm with twice the speeds, one third the power dissipation, and half the cost of complex programmable logic (CPLDs), said Yousef Khalilollahi, director of product marketing for antifuse devices at Actel. Tests show SX-A devices can function at 200-MHz while dissipating less than 1 watt of power, according to Actel. The devices can deliver 250-MHz systems speed.
The series fine-grain architecture and quarter-micron process technology results in what Actel said is the industry's largest antifuse FPGA, the A54SX72A, which has twice the system-level logic density as competing parts, according to the company. The SX-A family will have four members, ranging from 12,000 to 108,000 system gates. The 100-pin SX08A device (12,000 system gates) will cost $3.90 each in high-volume quantities.
Today, Actel gets a little more than half of its revenues from communications applications, with most of those sales being in telecommunications systems. The new antifuse PGFA series is expected to help increase the company's sales in high-speed networking applications, according to Actel officials. The new series is also expected to attack higher-volume applications--because of the lower costs--and expand the use of antifuse FPGAs in designs now using mask-programmable gate array.
Actel officials said the company has already won design-ins at a major networking systems maker and a producer of high-definition television (HDTV). Other applications being targeted for SX-A design wins are arcade games, OC192 networks, xDSL, digital cameras, pagers, power meters, and two-way radios. Until now, large orders for antifuse FPGAs were typically 5,000 to 10,000 parts, but now Actel is addressing 100,000-quantity shipments with the SX-A.
To support networking applications, the new SX-A series features hot-swap support in the FPGAs' input/output circuitry. This will enable the devices to be used on boards that are replaced and plugged in to networking gear without shutting down the system power.
"Our introduction of SX-A is the first of several moves we're planning during the next 12 months that reconfirm Actel's commitment to further development of antifuse FPGA products," said John East, president and CEO of the company, which claims to be the world's largest supplier of programmable devices based on the antifuse technology.
In recent years, antifuse FPGAs have come under increasing competition with reprogrammable designs that use flash or SRAM-based architectures. Actel this year moved into the flash-based FPGA arena after striking a technology alliance with GateField Corp. of Fremont, Calif. (see June 14 story). Actel is also working on SRAM-based FPGAs, but the 0.25-micron SX-A series is intended to help boost the company's main product line for higher volume and new applications with higher speeds, lower cost and reduced power dissipation.