Actel Corporation (Nasdaq: ACTL) announced the availability of its implementation of the ARM(R) Cortex(TM)-M1 processor, a small, high-performance, 32-bit soft core co-developed by the companies for optimal use in field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs). Removing the license and royalty fees typically associated with licensing models for industry-leading processor cores, Actel offers free access to advanced ARM processor technology to the broad marketplace. The free delivery of the Cortex-M1 processor for use in Actel’s flash-based, M1-enabled Actel Fusion and ProASIC3 FPGAs provides system designers programmable flexibility and system-level integration, enabling the development of low-cost, high-performance systems.
“With the significant increase in the use of FPGAs as flexible, cost-effective platforms for the rapid design of high-quality embedded systems, the introduction of an FPGA-optimized ARM processor enables us to serve the growing needs of companies who require highly programmable solutions,” said John Cornish, vice president, marketing, Processors Division, ARM. “The unprecedented security benefits and advanced features offered by Actel’s flash-based FPGAs make these devices an ideal vehicle for our high-performance processor technology.”
Rich Brossart, vice president, product marketing at Actel, added, “Evidenced by the success of our soft ARM7(TM) family processor core, designers continue to show great interest in implementing industry-standard 32-bit processor technologies in FPGAs. With the addition of the FPGA-optimized ARM Cortex-M1 processor, free of license and royalty fees, to our broad processor portfolio, system designers can select the solution that best meets their design requirements regardless of application or volume.”
Cortex-M1 Processor and Actel’s M1-Enabled FPGAs
Derived from ARM’s three-stage Cortex-M3 processor pipeline, the highly configurable Cortex-M1 processor operates at up to 72 MHz in Actel’s M1-enabled Fusion Programmable System Chip (PSC) or ProASIC3 FPGAs. Providing a good balance between size and speed for embedded applications, the core is able to be implemented in as few as 4,300 tiles, roughly 20 percent of an M1A3P1000 ProASIC3 device or 30 percent of a mixed-signal M1AFS600 Actel Fusion PSC. The Cortex-M1 processor solution also connects to the industry-standard AHB bus, allowing designers to build a subsystem and easily add peripheral functionality to the processor.
With the increasing costs of application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) design, designers can benefit from a Cortex-M1 processor-based implementation in an FPGA due to reduced design time and a lower cost of entry into system-on-chip design, particularly for lower volume applications. However, for designs that scale to ultra-high volumes, the 32-bit Cortex-M1 processor runs the industry-standard Thumb(R) instruction set and is upward compatible with the Cortex-M3 processor, providing an easy migration path to ASIC implementation.
Actel’s flash-based FPGAs, the mixed-signal M1 Actel Fusion PSCs and low- cost M1 ProASIC3 devices, are virtually immune to tampering, assuring users that valuable IP will not be compromised or copied. The single-chip devices also provide the low power, firm-error immunity and live at power-up capabilities that are inherent to all Actel FPGAs.
Comprehensive Tool Support
The Cortex-M1 processor is supported by the comprehensive tools and knowledge that currently exists for the ARM architecture, far surpassing the level of support offered for proprietary processors. Actel will support 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. Actel’s implementation of the Cortex-M1 processor is fully supported by the ARM RealView(R) Development Suite and RealView Microcontroller Development Kit. Third-party vendors, such as Aldec, CriticalBlue, CodeSourcery, IAR, ImpulseC and Keil(TM), an ARM Company, will also support the new processor with a host of tools — from compilers and debuggers to RTOS support.
Pricing and Availability
Actel’s implementation of the Cortex-M1 processor will be available for early access in April. The M1A3P1000 ProASIC3 device and M1AFS600 Fusion PSC device will sample in Q3 2007 with production quantities in Q4 2007. Pricing for the M1 devices starts at $3.95.
Actel Corporation is the leader in single-chip FPGA solutions. The company is traded on the NASDAQ National Market under the symbol ACTL and is headquartered at 2061 Stierlin Court, Mountain View, Calif., 94043-4655. Telephone: 888-99-ACTEL (992-2835).
The Actel name, logo and Actel Fusion are trademarks of Actel Corporation.
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