By requalifying its antifuse FPGA technology to operate from -40°C to 125°C, and up to 150°C junction temperatures, Actel's family of low-gate-count devices meets the low-cost and high-reliability requirements of many automotive applications.
The FPGAs in the eX family target telematics, passenger-cabin control, and entertainment systems. They give automotive-system designers a low-risk alternative to full ASIC solutions when standards are in flux or production quantities may not be high enough to warrant an ASIC design.
The antifuse devices also bring an instant-on capability to the systems, since the configuration pattern needn't be loaded each time the system boots. In addition, the configuration data is "burned" into the FPGA. The design is then secure because there's no configuration data stream for someone to reverse-engineer.
The eX family will consist of three initial products, the eX64A, 128A, and 256A, which will offer gate counts from about 2 to 8 kgates. The FPGAs will be available for operation from either 2.5- or 3.3-V supplies and will be offered in various package options, including chip-scale and fine-pitch ball-grid-array packages.
Actel also plans to extend the product family with devices from the higher-density MX and SX-A commercial FPGA product lines. That will allow the company to offer gate counts of up to 108 kgates to handle system needs that are more complex. At 70°C, the eX and SX-A chips can run at 350 MHz internally and deliver a 3.8-ns clock-to-output delay. At 125°C, they run at 240 MHz and have a 5.3-ns clock-to-output delay. A control-area network (CAN) bus controller implemented in an SX-A FPGA can run at 20 MHz with a 70°C ambient.
To support the new family, the company assembled a broad library of intellectual property (IP) specifically designed and optimized for in-cab automotive applications. Actel and its partners--Amphion Semiconductor Inc., CAST Inc., Inicore Inc., and Memec Design--will offer more than 30 IP cores for automotive applications. Some of those cores include CAN, I2C, and serial peripheral interfaces; Z80 and 6809 workalike CPUs; a Reed-Solomon encoder/decoder; and DES/3DES/AES encryption/
Production quantities of the eX family members are immediately available. In 100,000-unit lots, they cost less than $2 each. The MX and SX-A families will be available next quarter.
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