At the heart of Altera’s Quartus® Prime design software is the new Spectra-Q™ engine, which enables new levels of design productivity for next-generation programmable devices, such as Stratix® 10 and Arria® 10 FPGAs. The Spectra-Q engine consists of faster, more scalable algorithms, a new hierarchical database infrastructure, and a new unified compiler technology. The Spectra-Q engine enables the development of new tools and design flows and further extends Altera’s Quartus Prime software leadership by delivering:

  • 8X faster compile times using improved algorithms, incremental optimizations, and distributed compilation
  • 10X faster I/O design by creating legal pinouts at design start
  • 5X faster design entry by raising the level of design abstraction

Increase Your Design Productivity with Spectra-Q Engine

Learn how the new engine is changing the future of FPGA design productivity by reducing overall design iterations and compilations. 



Download a new backgrounder now for detailed information on the Spectra-Q™ engine. Learn how the new engine provides more control and predictability at all stages of design planning and implementation. You will also learn how the Spectra-Q engine can help you tackle design productivity challenges by not only decreasing compile times, but also by reducing the total number of design iterations.

Faster Compile Times

The Spectra-Q engine accelerates your time to market with 8X faster compile times and design iterations by providing:

  • Faster algorithms (synthesis, placement, routing, timing analysis, and physical synthesis) that take advantage of  today’s multicore workstations
  • Incremental flows that allow designers to re-enter a compiler stage and incrementally optimize portions of their design to significantly shorten design iterations
  • The Rapid Recompile feature, which reuses synthesis and place-and-route information to streamline processing for small, incremental design changes, resulting in up to 3X faster compilation for pre-synthesis HDL changes and up to 4X faster compilation for post-fit SignalTap® II Logic Analyzer modifications
  • Distributed compiles allows you to split your design and compile in parallel over multiple computers in a server farm, which dramatically reduces your overall compilation time

Fewer Design Iterations

The Spectra-Q engine contains tools and capabilities that reduce the number of design iterations required to complete your FPGA and SoC design. 

  • BluePrint Platform Designer—The BluePrint Platform Designer leverages the new Spectra-Q engine to explore a device’s peripheral architecture and efficiently assigns interfaces. BluePrint prevents illegal pin assignments by performing fitter and legal checks in real time, eliminating complex error messages and the need to wait for a full compile, speeding up your I/O design by 10X. Learn more about speeding up your I/O design using the BluePrint platform designer
  • Hybrid Placer—The Spectra-Q engine also includes a new Hybrid Placement feature that uses advanced placement algorithms to speed up overall logic placement. The Hybrid Placer combines analytical and advanced annealing techniques for overall improved quality of results and a reduction in seed noise enabling faster timing closure.

Faster Design Entry

The Spectra-Q engine fast-tracks design entry for hardware, software, and digital signal processing (DSP) designers. With multiple design entry methods, designers can target FPGAs with greater efficiency in their preferred design environment, including:

  • C or C++ based—The Spectra-Q engine supports Altera’s new A++ Compiler for high-level synthesis to create intellectual property (IP) cores from C or C++, which significantly boosts productivity through faster simulation and IP generation.
  • C based (OpenCL)—Software developers can use a familiar C-based design flow with the Altera® SDK for OpenCL. The SDK provides a software programming model and abstracts away the traditional FPGA hardware design flow.
  • Model based—The DSP Builder tool supports a model-based design flow: you can generate HDL from your DSP algorithms directly from within the Simulink software.
  • RTL based—The Quartus Prime software supports all standard languages, including SystemVerilog and VHDL-2008.

Spectra-Q Engine for Stratix 10 FPGAs and SoCs

FPGA design software for the next-generation, multi-million logic element (LE) count devices such as Stratix® 10 FPGAs and SoCs requires a new approach. The Spectra-Q engine powers the Quartus Prime software to boost designer productivity and accelerate time to market for Stratix 10 devices.

Stratix 10 FPGAs and SoCs feature new hardware innovations specifically architected with the flexibility and modularity needed for true hierarchical design. Key features that have been co-optimized with the Spectra-Q engine for significantly higher productivity are:

  • The new HyperFlex™ core architecture, with registers everywhere throughout the interconnect to achieve 2X the performance of previous generation FPGAs
  • Programmable clock tree synthesis
  • A sector-based approach to device configuration

The Spectra-Q engine takes advantage of this flexibility and modularity to dramatically reduce the number of design iterations, enable extensive design reuse, and facilitate architectural exploration and planning.

IP Integration Demonstration Using Spectra-Q Hard Partitions

The Spectra-Q engine enables powerful new capabilities for IP reuse. For example, FPGAs consist of high-speed I/O interfaces that transfer data to the FPGA fabric at high data rates. Time to market can be reduced if I/O to fabric transfer timing can be successfully closed, and stored as a separate database – a “hard partition”. This database is kept intact while the rest of the design in the FPGA fabric undergoes multiple revisions of synthesis, placement, and routing. The following video demonstrates how to create and re-use I/O to fabric transfer as a hardened partition in your design in the Quartus Prime Pro Edition software, which is powered by the Spectra-Q engine.