Even with the best of intentions, optimistic outlooks don't always pan out. This is especially true with technology.
Many planners have grandiose ideas as to what is possible and feasible. Unknown are the technical challenges and pitfalls that face the worker bee's as we strive to meet these challenges.
Examples of this are many. One example in the PLD and FPGA world is when a device manufacturer aims to make larger parts, faster parts, or larger parts that are faster. Early successes in no way guarantees later successes.
That's why it's nice to see when a company meets the challenge and delivers on what they say they will do. Altera's recent announcements are evidence of this.
In two related announcements, Altera stated that they have successfully created it's largest parts, in it's fastest speed, and have fabbed other parts in more stringent industrial temperature ranges.
Altera announced that the Stratix family's two largest parts the EP1S80 and EP1S60, are now available in faster speed grades. The new -5 speed grade designations on the With 79,040 and 57,120 logic elements (LEs) parts, now perform at DSP speeds of 333 MHz and data rates speeds of 300 MHz.
They have achieved this level of performance with the smaller parts, but this is the first time these larger parts have been able to crank this fast (12 percent faster according to Altera).
Aimed at logic intensive applications like image processing, acquisition data signal processing, communications, medical, etc, Altera sees them finding homes in JPEG and JPEG2000 cores targeting video applications.
Slower versions of Altera's EP1S60 and EP1S80 FPGAs have been shipping for over a year. This means that those who have delved into them, know they work, they perform, and have mastered the tools which have also demonstrated themselves. At these higher speeds, the advanced functional blocks like DSP, hardware multipliers, adders/subtractors, accumulators, and pipeline registers now can execute quicker turbo charging logic resources.
Related is the news that these parts are now industrial grade (-40C to 100C). This means industrial and rugged environment designer now have 79,000 logic elements and over 7 Mbits of internal memory on a single chip to play with. Altera touts it as the largest 0.13-um industrial-grade FPGA available today.
Altera already has extended temperature grade (-40C to 125C) versions of it's lower density Cyclone family of FPGAs. This may mean a future migration of Stratix to these levels.
This is increasingly more important as military/aerospace and industrial designers push the envelopes of performance and endurance's. New speed grades and temperature ranges are supported by the company's own Quartus II software as well as third party tool vendors who support Altera.