Product LifecycleNios® II processors can help product developers to maximize their return on a product by providing life cycle benefits at every stage of a product's life, including:

  • Getting the product to market quickly
  • Adding features and reducing costs to stay in the market longer
  • Avoiding costly processor obsolescence and premature market exit

Nios II processors offer unique benefits at each stage of a product's life.


Time-to-Market Benefits—FPGAs offer very fast time-to-market due to their programmability. Many common design errors can be fixed quickly with simple changes to the FPGA design. Nios II systems take advantage of this flexibility and further accelerate time-to-market by offering complete development kits, numerous reference designs, and powerful hardware design tools, and software design tools such as the Nios II Integrated Development Environment (IDE).

Being first to market can often mean shipping a less-complete product than desired. 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 the risk of using hardware that is based on emerging (or changing) standards
  • Simplifies hardware bug fixes and eliminates the need for product returns and rework

Creating a Competitive Advantage—A competitive advantage based on a common hardware platform is hard to maintain. Create a significant barrier to entry and/or competitive advantage for your product. by creating a system using one or more Nios II processors, hardware accelerators, custom instructions, and custom-tailored peripherals.

Introduction and Growth

The introduction and growth stages are marked by a fast increase in sales and the move to profitability through volume production and cost reductions. Product engineers have long used FPGAs to enable a short ramp-up to full production, but Altera's new generation of low-cost FPGAs lets you keep the same design flow throughout the production process, from prototyping all the way to volume shipping.

Additionally, the versatile Nios II processors give embedded developers the flexibility to add hardware features or accelerators, even late in the development stage, to boost performance and add features that will help to insulate your product from the competition.

Maturity and Decline

Cost Reduction—At this stage, the market is no longer growing; the key issues are cost pressures from the competition. Altera offers an ASIC license for the Nios II processor, peripherals, and switch fabric interconnect for designs that need to migrate to standard cell-based ASIC designs. Contact your local Altera representative for details.

Processor Obsolescence—To accommodate a diverse customer base, embedded processor vendors offer a range of configuration choices within a processor family, but inevitably many of these processor variants are obsoleted earlier than the rest of the family. Savvy designers realize that the soft Nios II processors aren't subject to the same market pressures as hard processors. Nios II processor designers have a perpetual license to create and deploy Nios II processor-based designs in Altera FPGAs, so even if the underlying FPGA hardware changes, the investment in application software is preserved.

The low minimum-quantity purchasing flexibility that Altera offers for its FPGAs is a great relief to product managers looking to maximize the life span and return on a product. Decline of a market is inevitable, but a product can certainly phase out gracefully.

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