I think it's a pretty cool product but the FPGA/SW tools are a bit frustrating to work with. They've had to stitch together some disparate tools with what feels like a very haphazard toolchain. I personally believe the part will remain a little-used option until the toolchain is improved.
The traditional push back I have seen from designers using these types of devices is that 'analog' designers are slow to switch to a 'programmable' technology. What worked 2 years ago is still the best for these types of designers. If programmable logic companies can keep 'analog' designers from writing or even seeing equations or (heaven help us) Verilog code that may be the right direction to go. The plus is that it becomes easier for a 'digital' designer to build things like power supply managers when all they need to do is check some boxes or select items from pull down menues. Both design 'types' win.
@Avivale - at the highest level PSoC5 and SmartFusion are similar in concepts i.e. integration of 3 distinct components type in one. But differences start emerging when you take a closer look. The biggest one being the presence of a real FPGA in SmartFusion with the ability to do your designs in RTL (Verilog or VHDL), with up to 500K logic gates, embedded SRAM & FIFOs and support for several IO standards (incl. LVDS, LVPECL, PCI, PCI-X etc).
@Jessebot - Hopefully SmartFusion products are valued by the customer base for two benefits. Benefit 1: Its price is equivalent to components it replaces in a system; Benefit 2: It reduces the total cost of ownership via integration, improved inventory management, improved reliability etc. This is how we have tried to price them. Pricing for volume orders can differ significantly from low volume pricing found on online stores. If you would like to be contacted by an Actel representative to obtain a specific price quote for your application, feel free to let us know (ProductMarketing@actel.com).
I haven't done enough research on the SmartFusion yet, but initially it makes me think of Cypress's PSoc5, which also embeds programmable logic (including analog) with an ARM Cortex-M3. Anyone have any knowledge to compare the two?
Sounds like everyone feels pretty positive about this (for the most part) at this point. I'd love to hear more feedback after you have some hands on experience. Email me anytime - firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks as always for taking the time to share your perspectives.
this is exactly what I need for the next generation design of a high channel count LED controller...almost. I need an ARM-grade CPU w/ethernet and basic A/D and a FPGA, and the plan is to do it with a stellaris ($9) and a xilinx fpga ($5 or $10, not sure what is needed yet). Unfortunately, the announced smartfusion device is $50-range and overkill; the lower-end part (no pricing) isn't avail for 6 months+.
I hold out great hope that their lower-end device is in the $15-$20 range for qty 100s. I would use it for every design I could.
NASA's Orion Flight Software Production Systems Manager Darrel G. Raines joins Planet Analog Editor Steve Taranovich and Embedded.com Editor Max Maxfield to talk about embedded flight software used in Orion Spacecraft, part of NASA's Mars mission. Live radio show and live chat. Get your questions ready.
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