Giving automotive manufacturers a flexible, highly reliable alternative to costly and complex ASIC technology, Actel Corporation (Nasdaq: ACTL) announced that its low-power ProASIC3 field-programmable gate array (FPGA) family has achieved AEC-Q100, Grade 2 and Grade 1 qualification—passing a series of critical stress tests designed to ensure the quality, reliability and endurance of semiconductors in automotive applications. Actel’s AEC-Q100, Grade 1 ProASIC3 devices represent the industry’s first FPGAs to achieve this quality level. The company also announced support for the Production Part Approval Process (PPAP) – a process used by the automotive industry to ensure the availability of specific, in-depth documentation for all parts used in the automotive supply chain.
AEC-Q100, Grade 1 qualification now enables FPGA technology to move beyond in-cabin telematics and infotainment applications into system-critical applications such as powertrain, engine control modules and safety systems. The ProASIC3 devices are ideally suited to address the changing and emerging standards within these system-critical applications. Further, because Actel’s FPGAs feature the industry’s lowest power, the devices can endure the most demanding operating temperatures and satisfy the demands of space-constrained applications such as back-up cameras and side-looking ‘blind-spot’ safety systems with limited ventilation.
“It’s one thing to ensure that a device can operate in a car navigation or entertainment system, but to deliver an FPGA for system-critical applications with a zero defect goal is an entirely different animal,” said Martin Mason, director of silicon product marketing for Actel. “Until now, automotive manufacturers have engaged in the costly and complex design of application-specific devices because it was the only way to get the low power, reliability and endurance needed for the most demanding automotive systems. The flexibility of the ProASIC3 family enables widespread adoption of flash-based FPGAs in system-critical automotive applications.” Actel also announced today that Delphi Corp., a leading global supplier of mobile electronics and transportation systems, will be using the Actel ProASIC3 FPGA in a production engine control module being designed into a heavy-duty diesel engine. Additionally, Magna Electronics has selected the Actel ProASIC3 FPGA for its automotive vision systems.
“The low-power FPGAs required for high-temperature automotive applications are now critical for next-generation automotive electronics applications,” said Mike Williams, research vice president at Gartner. “An FPGA achieving an AECQ-100 Grade 1 qualification will enable automotive manufacturers to leverage FPGA technology in system-critical and space-constrained automotive applications.”
Actel is in the process of certifying its design, development and manufacturing operations to the rigorous TS 16949 worldwide automotive quality management system specification.
ProASIC3: Breakthrough Low Power and Temperature Tolerance
Under-the-hood applications, such as engine and transmission control modules, require highly robust semiconductor solutions that can withstand extreme temperatures and vehicle vibration, while delivering the low power needed to ensure ongoing reliability and endurance. AEC-Q100, Grade 1 qualification confirms that the low-power ProASIC3 devices deliver reliability and performance over the life of the vehicle and can operate in extended junction temperature ranges (-40 to +135°C). Actel’s automotive-grade ProASIC3 FPGAs feature static power as low as 40 mA at 135°C, enabling the devices to endure extreme temperatures for longer periods of time without thermal reliability or runaway concerns.
Thermal runaway occurs when high-temperature environments cause semiconductors to experience an increase in current consumption, which in turn causes heating, increased power dissipation within the device and often, the ultimate destruction of the device. Actel’s ProASIC3 family features power consumption that is as much as two orders of magnitude lower than competing automotive FPGAs.
Delivering Critical Firm Error Immunity
The ProASIC3 family uniquely features on-chip flash memory for FPGA switch control, making the Actel FPGA family immune to firm errors—a mandatory requirement in an industry driving toward zero defects. In contrast, the configuration data of SRAM-based FPGAs is prone to neutron-induced errors, which can change the logic, routing, or I/O behavior in an unpredictable way. The end result can be a system failure that can cause costly brand repercussions, or worse, life-threatening conditions. ProASIC3 also eliminates the need for costly external components for device configuration.
Pricing and Availability
Actel’s AEC-Q100-qualified family of devices includes the A3P060 (60,000 gate), A3P125 (125,000 gate), A3P250 (250,000 gate) and A3P1000 (1,000,000 gate). The A3P1000 is available immediately and will be sold for less than $20 in quantities of 250,000. All other family members are sampling now and AEC-Q100-qualified versions of those parts will be shipping later this year.
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 logo and ProASIC3 name are trademarks of Actel Corporation.