Combining logic, memory, and a processor core, Altera created the industry's first embedded processor FPGA solution that allows engineers to integrate an entire system on a single device. Altera's processor portfolio includes Excalibur™ devices that offer integrated processor subsystems and the configurable Nios® embedded processor for Altera® FPGAs.
Altera embedded processor solutions can be used in a wide range of applications, from industrial and automotive to access and transmission applications. These processor solutions are also compatible with Altera's FPGA architectures and come fully supported by a seamless design tools package, which includes the Quartus® II design software, the SOPC Builder system development tool, and GNUPro Toolkit developer tools, all optimized for both processor families. Both Excalibur devices and the Nios embedded processor are also supported by industry-standard software development tools, debugging solutions, and operating systems support, providing a complete development package for system-on-a-programmable-chip (SOPC) designs.
Excalibur devices integrate an industry-standard ARM922T™ processor with debugging modules, on-chip memory, and peripherals with an APEX™ 20KE device-like architecture. This combination provides system performance of up to 200 MHz (210 Dhrystone MIPS) and an FPGA with embedded RAM, phase-locked loops (PLLs), and advanced I/O capabilities.
Nios Embedded Processor
The Nios embedded processor provides the flexibility to integrate memory, processors, peripherals, and other intellectual property (IP) for SOPC designs. This configurable, general-purpose RISC processor can be easily integrated with user logic and programmed into an Altera FPGA. The processor features a 16-bit instruction set, user-selectable 16- or 32-bit data paths, and a library of standard soft peripherals configurable for a wide array of applications.
SOPC Builder is an automated system development tool that dramatically simplifies the task of creating and verifying high-performance SOPC designs. The tool accelerates time-to-market by automating the system definition, integration, and validation phases of SOPC development. Using SOPC Builder, designers can define a complete system, from hardware to software, within one tool and in a fraction of the time of traditional system-on-a-chip (SOC) design. SOPC Builder is integrated within the Quartus II software to give FPGA designers immediate access to a revolutionary new development tool.
The completeness of Altera solutions entails more than just the FPGAs. Embedded software is essential to the success of any processor. In addition, industry-standard developer tools, debugging solutions, and operating systems from third-party vendors also support Altera's embedded processor FPGA solutions.
Development Boards and Kits
To complete the tools suite, Altera offers several development boards and kits for both Excalibur devices and the Nios embedded processor. Altera has also partnered with key third-party vendors to produce development platforms and add-on boards for its embedded processor solutions.