Your total investment in an embedded application is more than simply the cost of the embedded solution. The total cost of ownership is the culmination of several cost components:
- Cost of embedded solutions—bill of materials
- Cost of getting started and developing the application
- Cost of maintaining, supporting, and upgrading products in the field
Altera provides a broad portfolio of embedded processors consisting of soft processor cores for use in any FPGA and specific FPGA families with integrated hard processor systems.
Soft processor cores:
- Nios® II 32-bit processor
- ARM® CortexTM-M1 32-bit processor
- Freescale ColdFire V1 32-bit processor
- MIPS®-compatible MP32 processors
FPGA families with integrated hard processor systems:
These processor and related development tools provide robust low-cost solutions that target all facets of your total cost of ownership (see Figure 1).
Figure 1. Total Cost of Ownership
The bill of materials (BOMs) for an embedded solution includes the cost of the processor core, peripherals, royalty fees, and the cost of additional devices. Altera's embedded solutions lower your total bill of materials.
- System integration—Reduce chip count by implementing functions currently handled by discrete components. Integrating functions into a single FPGA reduces board size, cost, density, and power consumption.
- Perpetual-use, royalty-free licensing—Purchase once, use perpetually, and pay no royalties for embedded processors implemented in Altera® FPGAs and HardCopy® ASICs. Learn more about licensing.
- Cost-optimized device—Combine the Nios II/e core with a low-cost Cyclone series FPGA and consume as little as 25 cents of logic, leaving plenty of room to add your own custom design or integrate functions performed by external devices. By using any of our soft processors, you can always target the latest, lowest cost device with minimal design risk. Learn more about Cyclone series FPGAs.
- Exact-fit peripheral feature set—Avoid paying for unwanted peripherals by creating an exact-fit system that combines one or more CPUs with the exact set of peripherals, memory, and I/O interfaces that your system requires, greatly reducing board cost, complexity, and power consumption. Learn more about the flexibility benefits.
- Coprocessing—Avoid migrating to an expensive discrete processor for incremental performance enhancements. Instead, offload your computing to a low-cost coprocessor inside your FPGA. Learn about coprocessing with the Nios II processor.
- High-volume migration path to ASIC—Once an FPGA design is finalized and moved into high-volume production, you can quickly migrate it to an Altera HardCopy II ASIC solution, dramatically reducing device cost. Altera also offers an ASIC license for the Nios II processor, peripherals, and system interconnect fabric for designs that need to migrate to cell-based ASIC designs.
Altera's embedded solution lowers your overall development costs.
- Cost of development tools—Download the Nios II Embedded Design Suite and evaluate the tools and processor for free today. We also offer a variety of third-party embedded application development tools through the Altera Embedded Alliance. Learn about embedded software design tools provided by Altera and embedded software partners.
- Cost to ramp-up—Product engineers have long used FPGAs to enable a short ramp-up to full production, but Altera's new generation of low-cost FPGAs and soft processors let you keep the same design flow throughout the production process, from prototyping to volume shipping, to minimize ramp-up and learning curve costs. You can purchase a low-cost development kit that includes everything you need to create complete on-chip microprocessor systems. Learn about development kits.
- Development cycle costs—You can add features and boost performance at any stage of the development cycle, quickly reacting to changing requirements, and thereby reducing the time and cost of development.
- Driver development costs—Choose from a library of available drivers for your embedded needs and drastically reduce the need for custom driver development and accelerate time-to-market.
- Cost-effective acceleration—You can easily boost performance in a cost-efficient way by accelerating performance-critical software functions to hardware accelerators or by instantiating multiple soft-core processors in a single device. Learn about performance benefits.
Altera's embedded solution reduces overall costs for maintaining products in the field.
- Preserving your software investment—The biggest investment in any embedded system is the application software. Our soft processors offer perpetual licenses, so you can preserve your software investment even if the underlying device changes. Learn more about protecting against processor obsolescence.
- Seamless in-field upgrade path—FPGA-based systems using a Nios II processor offer the unique advantage of being able to update hardware features to products already deployed in the field, the same way software is updated. This solves several problems:
- Extends product life, allowing the hardware to be feature-filled over time
- Reduces service and support costs using remote upgrades
- Simplifies hardware bug fixes and eliminates the need for product returns and rework
- Protect your software investment from processor obsolescence
- Improve your productivity
- Scale system performance to meet your needs
- Establish a competitive advantage with flexible hardware