Electronic Design

Tool Support Spins Up For Altera’s Cyclone III FPGAs

A bevy of tool announcements has accompanied the launch of Altera’s low-cost Cyclone III FPGAs. Altera itself has rolled out version 7.0 of its Quartus II design software, with support for the entire 65-nm Cyclone III FPGA family. Support is available both in the Subscription Edition of the suite as well as in the free Web Edition.

The Quartus II software’s PowerPlay power analysis and optimization technology, along with recent silicon process innovations in the Cyclone III family, achieve a 50% power reduction compared to the previous generation.

Both the Subscription Edition and the Web Edition of Quartus II software version 7.0 are now available. The Subscription Edition is shipping to all customers with an active software subscription. The annual software subscription is $2000 for a node-locked PC license. The free Quartus II Web Edition software can be downloaded at http://www.altera.com/q2webedition..

Tools From Down Under

Cyclone III support is now available in the latest edition of Altium Designer 6, Altium’s unified design environment for FPGAs, printed-circuit boards, and application-code development.

Engineers using the Altium system can easily target any supported device during development, eliminating the need to change development platforms or purchase additional software and specific device support modules. For full embedded systems development, Altium Designer includes an extensive set of ready-to-use ‘soft’ components that can be used to target a wide range of programmable devices, including the Altera Cyclone III device.

Support for the new Altera Cyclone III family is now available with the latest software update for Altium Designer 6 – Altium Designer 6.7. All Altium Designer 6 license holders can download this update for free at http://www.altium.com/Community/Support/SoftwareUpdates/.

Collaboration Bears Fruit

Close collaboration between Altera and Mentor Graphics has resulted in Cyclone III support from Mentor’s suite of FPGA synthesis tools. Precision Synthesis support for the full range of Cyclone III devices is available now in beta with production support scheduled for release in April.

Precision Synthesis is at the heart of Mentor Graphics’ FPGA flow with support for design creation, verification and printed-circuit board (PCB) integration. Features include: advanced support for ASIC prototyping (support for DesignWare libraries, Synopsys design constraints (SDC), gated-clock handling, etc.) plus advanced implementation and optimization techniques such as automatic mapping and inferencing of dedicated digital signal procession (DSP) and random-access memory (RAM) blocks.

Precision Synthesis also features extensive design analysis capability, allowing designers to cross-probe between multiple views as well as perform interactive static timing for rapid "what-if" analyses.

Support for Cyclone III FPGAs within Mentor’s LeonardoSpectrum tool suite will follow the production support within Precision Synthesis.

Making The Most Of Area

In its Synplify Pro FPGA synthesis tool, Synplicity aims to help Cyclone III users quickly reach their timing goals, while achieving cost reduction through optimal area utilization. As in the case of Mentor Graphics, the optimizations made within the Synplify Pro software stem from a collaborative development effort between Synplicity and Altera.

By using less logic to implement a Cyclone III design the Synplify Pro software can reduce design cost by enabling use of a smaller, less expensive device. The Synplify Pro software contains true timing-driven synthesis algorithms, which work first to meet timing requirements, then to reduce the logic used while maintaining the timing requirement.

The Synplify Pro software, offering support for Cyclone III devices, is available now. Pricing for the Synplify software starts at $10,450 (U.S.).

For more information about Altera, visit http://www.altera.com.

For more information about Altium, visit http://www.altium.com.

For more information about Mentor Graphics, visit http://www.mentor.com.

For more information about Synplicity, visit http://www.synplicity.com.

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