Intel® FPGA configuration devices have an advanced feature set that includes in-system programmability (ISP) and flash memory access, in board-space-saving packages.

Serial Configuration Device Features

Feature Customer's Benefit
In-System Programmability (ISP) Increases design flexibility, allowing in-system design updates and reduces costs by streamlining the manufacturing process.
Memory Access Several interface peripherals available with the Nios® and Nios II embedded processors allow you to access the serial configuration device as a memory module connected to your embedded system. Device memory capacity not consumed storing configuration data can be used as general-purpose non-volatile memory, which is perfect for program and data storage. You can also use a Nios II processor to modify configuration data, which is useful for in-field system upgrades.
Small Form Factor 8-pin/16-pin SOIC or 24-ball BGA packages.

ISP Provides Maximum Flexibility

All Intel® serial configuration devices have the capability for ISP. Intel provides ISP support in serial configuration devices via Intel's active serial programming interface (shown in Figure 1).

When a design goes into volume production, designers using one-time-programmable configuration devices must remove these devices and replace them with new parts for system upgrades. With ISP capability in the Intel serial configuration device, you can easily perform system upgrades by using an on-board processor or a programming cable to significantly reduce downtime and cost.

If board area is limited, Intel serial configuration devices can be programmed using a JTAG port through the FPGA. The Quartus® Prime software can automatically download the FlashLoader design to make the FPGA into a JTAG programmer of the serial configuration devices (shown in Figure 2).

Figure 1. ISP Through Active Serial Programming Interface

Figure 2. ISP Through JTAG Programming Interface

Flash Memory Access

The unused portions of the flash memory can be used as general-purpose memory. You can access this general-purpose memory using a  Nios® II embedded processor (shown in Figure 3), which makes the serial configuration devices a complete combination of flash and configuration solution.

You can even use this memory as a ROM for your embedded processor's boot-loader program, which can reduce board space requirements, eliminate the need for an extra on-board memory module, and ultimately reduce the overall cost of the system.

Figure 3. Flash Memory Access Using the Nios II Processor

Small Form Factor Saves Valuable Board Space

An important aspect of total design cost is board space. The more board space a solution consumes, the higher the cost of that solution. Intel’s serial configuration devices take up as little as 30 square millimeters of board space, which minimizes the amount of board space taken by a complete SOPC solution. Vertical migration is supported for all of the serial configuration devices using the same package.