Microsemi FPGA named product of the year

in FPGA, News by the machinegeek | 13 comments

Hearst Publications’ “Electronic Products” Magazine presented their 2011 Product of the Year Award to Microsemi for their SmartFusion Intelligent Mixed Signal FPGAs.

Microsemi Corporation (formerly known as Actel) manufactures the SmartFusion family of intelligent mixed signal FPGAs. The SmartFusion line integrates an FPGA, ARM® Cortex™-M3, and programmable analog, offering full customization and IP protection. A version of Libero, Microsemi’s flagship FPGA development software is available free of charge.

A datasheet is available for download, as well as a SmartFusion design video.

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Comments

  1. Frank Zhao says:

    Neat, now make us a breakout board for it :-P

    • ericwertz says:

      At $100, the official ActelXXXXXMicroSemi eval board for this isn’t a terrible deal, considering it’s got a $40+ part on it.

      What’s a little painful is the $8-9 you have to pay for just the connector if you want to make an extender board for it. The upside is that the connector is absolutely polluted with I/O pins.

  2. Andy says:

    It looks interesting at first, but a 500k-gate SmartFusion device is around $70, while you can get an Ethernet-enabled Cortex-M3 including PHY for <$15, and a 500k gate Xilinx Spartan-3E is around $20.

    Obviously there is a bit of a penalty in terms of integration and bandwidth, but not enough to justify a $35-40 cost delta.

    • ericwertz says:

      But you don’t get the analog and you don’t get a flash-based FPGA, which eliminates the separate boot ROM. The lower-end devices go for about $40, I think.

  3. SQKYbeaver says:

    this would be ideal for implementing a low power stand alone software defined radio

  4. Mawitö says:

    Libreo also have linux version now, i think some other line like proasic3 is used in chips like infectus and others for console modding, but not much info abaut them, maybe in opencores there’s more info, they sell this boards.

    http://opencores.org/shop,item,1

    thanks

  5. ericwertz says:

    One thing that’s really nice about them (Actel, anyways) is that they do (roughly) quarterly live training for almost every product family in their line, for *free*. You can attend two-way over the net. And Tim, the guy that normally (always?) does the training is great — he’s been there for over a decade, IIRC.

    They have two-day training for each of SmartFusion and either one or two days each for Libero and ProASIC3 (the FPGA fabric), as well. I don’t see anyone else doing this — it’s pretty nice.

    What’s embarassing is that a lot (virtually every one that I’ve seen) of their on-line training videos have abysmal audio. Some are very close to unwatchable, which is a shame.

  6. ericwertz says:

    So, no love anywhere for Cypress’ PSoc5 — configurable analog, PLD and Cortex-M3…?

    • Dave says:

      I would love to see the limitations and advantages of this product compared with Cypress’ offerings.

      The flash is a critical differentiator for some applications that need low power consumption and especially low in-rush at startup. (handheld SD Radios?)

      But how much Digital logic can you implement in the PSoc5? Enough to offload significant DSP tasks to from M3 core?

      Dave

  7. Andy says:

    @ericwertz – While it seems like Ian and Jack Gasset both use Windows, the proportion of Linux users is quite a bit higher in the Open Hardware community (Probably due to similar philosophies of open development)

    Cypress’ PSoC dev tools are Windows-only. While the processor core can be targeted by GCC, the rest of the chip cannot.

    • Ian says:

      I only stick with Windows because the majority of our users are on it and support is a must. I’m ready to jump ship any time, and I do make extensive use of VirtualBox VMs when I can :)

    • ericwertz says:

      I’ve been finding that a number of tools like these work fine under Wine, although sometimes only up until you have to hit USB to program the device. Clearly VirtualBox is a likely option, if you’re willing to suck-it-up and get a Windows license.

      Like it or not, Windows is the most popular target for darn near everything, except GCC and GDB. I don’t know, but I also suspect that IAR and Keil have less than full support for Linux. You can only go so far with OSS, but things are slowly changing. In the meantime, one is only limiting one’s options if one refuses Windows.

      Think of Windows as a development tool that you may just have to buy, just like any other piece of hardware or software where the return warrants it.

  8. SQKYbeaver says:

    i use a combination of win7 and linux in virtual box, it was the other way around but %90 of what i do is in windows, so i use it as host.

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