Enabling system designers to dramatically extend the battery life of their handheld and portable designs, Actel Corporation today announced it has optimized the ARM Cortex-M1 processor core for its IGLOO family of field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs). The combination of this low-power FPGA family and an industry-standard 32-bit ARM processor specifically designed for use in FPGAs gives designers the ideal, low-power integrated platform for rapidly deploying portable products. Furthermore, as the only FPGA supplier to offer this industry-standard processor free-of-charge to customers, Actel enables designers to cost-effectively leverage the large installed base of software and design tools available for the ARM architecture, reducing their time-to-market and development costs.
Attractive for portable applications with 5µW static power, IGLOO FPGAs consume more than 200× less static power than competitive FPGA offerings and deliver more than 10× the battery life of the current leading PLDs in portable applications. In an IGLOO FPGA, the Cortex-M1 core features very low operating current and static power, consuming only 24µA in static mode and 3µA in sleep mode. The innovative IGLOO Flash*Freeze mode, which enables easy entry and exit from ultra-low power modes while retaining SRAM and register data, reduces quiescent current to 20µA. The Flash*Freeze feature also allows instant on/off cycling of the Cortex-M1 core for maximum performance and minimum power consumption.
Until recently, the majority of portable designers have implemented their devices using a microcontroller in conjunction with a programmable logic device. They have used the microcontroller to implement the necessary processing, and have programmed the FPGA with additional application-specific features and functions not supported by the microcontroller. The combination of the ARM Cortex-M1 processor with IGLOO provides a single-chip solution that reduces cost, power, board space, and design complexity. Furthermore, because Actel FPGAs are virtually immune to tampering, designers have the peace-of-mind that their valuable IP will not be compromised or copied.
Actel's M1-enabled IGLOO FPGAs
The Cortex-M1 processor is initially available for use in Actel's 600,000-gate IGLOO device, the M1AGL600. Featuring 32-bit performance and consuming just 33 percent of available chip real estate on the device, the processor provides a good balance between size and speed, while also offering ample space for customization.
With 5µW static power, IGLOO FPGAs are the lowest power FPGAs on the market. These solutions consume upwards of 200× less static power than competitive FPGA offerings and deliver more than 10× the battery life of the current leading PLDs in portable applications. Offering both 1.2V and 1.5V operation, IGLOO FPGAs enable dynamic power to be reduced by 35 percent in 1.2V operation.
Comprehensive tool support
The Cortex-M1 processor is supported by the comprehensive tools and knowledge that exists for the ARM architecture, far surpassing the level of support offered for proprietary processors. Actel supports the Cortex-M1 processor with its CoreConsole IP Deployment Platform, its SoftConsole program development environment, and Actel Libero Integrated Design Environment – all available for free download from Actel's Web site. Third-party vendors, such as Aldec, CriticalBlue, CodeSourcery, IAR, ImpulseC, Keil, and Micrium also support the processor with a host of tools – from compilers and debuggers to RTOS support.
Pricing and availability
The M1AGL600 is available now with additional family members slated for 2008. Pricing starts at $3.70 for an M1 IGLOO device in volume. For further information about pricing and availability, please contact Actel or visit the company's Web site at www.actel.com.