Actel believes SmartFusion can appeal to a large market at the intersection of the FPGA, programmable analog and microcontroller markets. The company is targeting applications such as system and power management, motor control, industrial automation, displays and others across markets including industrial, military, medical, telecommunications, computing and storage.
Block diagram of SmartFusion (click on image to enlarge).
But Actel executives acknowledge that SmartFusion will require a learning curve, particularly for designers who are experienced with FPGAs but new to microcontrollers, and vice versa. The company is providing a design environment to support the devices with its Libero integrated design environment, as well as a free SoftConsole Eclipse-based IDE with GNU, as well as evaluation versions of software from Keil and IAR Systems.
The microcontroller subsystem within SmartFusion features a Cortex-M3 running at 100 megahertz, according to Actel. Included is up to 512 kilobytes of flash memory and 64 kilobytes of SRAM, the company said. Built on Actel's flashed-based ProASIC FPGA architecture and implemented in 130-nm CMOS, SmartFusion devices feature between 60,000 and 500,000 system gates, with 350 megahertz performance and up to 204 I/Os, the company said.
Actel said it has been sampling SmartFusion devices since September 2009 and has already engaged with dozens of customers. The first SmartFusion devices, A2F200, are now in volume production, Actel said. A2F500 devices are scheduled for delivery in the second quarter and AF060 devices are expected in the second half of the year, the company said. Evaluation kit priced at $99 and a full development kits for $999 are immediately available, Actel said.
Note that there's a panel taking place at the Embedded Systems Conference (April 27) that will debate the virtues of a standalone microprocessor verses an embedded solution.