Enabling a broader range of markets to design more cost- and energy-efficient end systems, Actel Corporation (NASDAQ: ACTL) announced a new reference design that enables intelligent system and power management implementations starting at $1.20. The design combines the award-winning, mixed-signal Fusion Programmable System Chip (PSC) with the optimized, configurable CoreABC microcontroller to provide a complete system management solution using a fraction of the Fusion part’s logic tiles. As a result, the small and flexible, yet sophisticated, design eliminates the need for a variety of discrete components typically used in system management applications, while also offering additional chip real estate that can be custom-configured for the end application.
Today, there is a clear bifurcation in system management applications, with standards-based and proprietary solutions for telecommunications at the high end and a demand for low cost, less complex solutions at the low end, primarily in embedded applications. Actel’s low-cost, single-chip Fusion-based solution enables a broader range of these embedded applications, such as medical, industrial and test, to engage in cost-effective and sophisticated power management so that end systems can become more energy-efficient.
The CoreABC soft microcontroller provides a complete system management solution, in conjunction with Fusion’s analog sub-systems, which uses roughly 40,000 gates of the 250,000-gate AFS250 Actel Fusion device. This results in an implementation cost of $1.20 and leaves the remaining portion of the device free for integrating additional system functionality such as glue logic, as well as clock generation and management logic. The solution therefore enables significant bill of materials, power and board area savings.
“Actel is committed to delivering the solutions designers need to engage in more power-efficient system design,” said Rich Brossart, vice president, product marketing at Actel. “System management, and specifically the ability to more closely manage power within the system, is a critical aspect to enabling more energy-efficient systems. While telecommunications designers have been leveraging system management solutions at the high end for some time, this low-cost solution extends sophisticated and intelligent system and power management to price-sensitive embedded designers.”
Actel’s system management solution integrates voltage monitors, current monitors, thermal monitoring, real-time signal processing, PLD functionality and more – often replacing more than 10 discrete components typically used in system management applications. Additionally the Actel Fusion solution allows designers to engage in intelligent system, power and thermal management, data logging and system diagnostics in a single chip, saving board space.
Leveraging Fusion, CoreABC for Intelligent Power Management Functionality
Today’s highly integrated systems require advanced implementations of power and system management to handle the higher currents and numerous system voltages in smaller packages. This, in turn, creates the need for thermal management as well as the need for efficient battery and system power management, as more and more systems become portable. The combination of CoreABC and Fusion makes it possible to effectively monitor system performance, improve system efficiencies and maximize battery life. As important, Fusion enables easy implementation of board-level power saving modes to optimize or minimize power consumption for other devices on the board.
Using the mixed-signal Actel Fusion device and CoreABC, designers can achieve real-time operation with hardware response times. In addition, CoreABC does not need complex interrupt schemes or a real-time operating system. The programmable Fusion device can monitor temperatures, voltages and currents using analog inputs.
Pricing and Availability
Actel’s low-cost system management reference design is available now. The reference design includes VHDL and Verilog versions of the design with a detailed user guide. Actel also delivers a comprehensive development environment, including the Libero Integrated Design Environment (IDE) and CoreConsole intellectual property (IP) deployment platform, as well as a broad portfolio of free IP cores for processing, communications, and analog and memory interface.
The Actel AFS250 is available now, with prices starting at $7.50 in 100K volume. The Actel AFS090 Fusion device is planned for Q4 with prices starting at $4.50 in 100K volume. Actel’s CoreABC is available for download free of charge with Actel’s CoreConsole software.
Attacking power consumption from both the chip and the system levels, Actel power-smart programmable solutions enable power-efficient design. 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.
The Actel, Actel Fusion and Actel Libero names and logos are trademarks of Actel Corporation.