Nuremberg, Germany: Actel has developed what it claims is the world’s first intelligent mixed-signal FPGA. Called SmartFusion, the device features Actel’s FPGA fabric, a complete microcontroller subsystem built around a hard ARM Cortex-M3 processor, and programmable analog blocks on a flash process.
“SmartFusion gave us the resources to build a highly agile smart-grid sensor with greater flexibility in a smaller package,” said David Brain, chief technology officer of Smartgrid Technologies. “The integration of a state-of-the-art embedded ARM processor with on-chip analog-to-digital conversion and the ability to build custom features in the uncommitted gate array is an unbeatable combination.”
The combination of three programmable elements—logic, a microcontroller subsystem, and analog—means the SmartFusion family is a fully customizable system design platform. Embedded designers can now optimize hardware/software tradeoffs on the fly without board-level changes. In the SmartFusion device, all the data transferred from the processor to the FPGA or from the analog to the processor or between the FPGA and the analog is on-chip. In addition, Actel’s FlashLock technology provides IP security.