Actel Introduces SmartFusion Devices — FPGAs with ARM Cortex-M3 Processor and Programmable Analog

NUREMBERG , Germany , March 2 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — At the Embedded World conference today, Actel Corporation (Nasdaq: ACTL) unveiled SmartFusion™, the world's first intelligent mixed signal FPGA. Available in production quantities, SmartFusion devices feature Actel's proven FPGA fabric, a complete microcontroller subsystem built around a hard ARM® Cortex™-M3 processor and programmable analog blocks on a flash process. Embedded designers no longer have to compromise. Now, they can easily build the system they want, with all the features they need, on a single chip.

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“SmartFusion gave us the resources to build a highly-agile smartgrid sensor with greater flexibility in a smaller package,” said David Brain , CTO Smartgrid Technologies. “The integration of a state-of-the-art embedded ARM processor with on-chip analog to digital conversion and the ability to build custom features in the uncommitted gate array is an unbeatable combination.”

“The launch of Actel's SmartFusion represents a step forward in intelligent FPGA design and also demonstrates the rapidly growing momentum behind the ARM Cortex-M3 processor in a wide range of applications,” said Eric Schorn , vice president, marketing, processor division, ARM. “In addition to exploiting the Cortex-M3 processor's industry leading high-performance and low power features, SmartFusion licensees are also able to access ARM's vast ecosystem of more than 600 Partners, providing tools, software and middleware optimized for the ARM architecture.”

Why SmartFusion is a Smart Choice

The combination of three programmable elements — logic, a microcontroller subsystem and analog — makes the SmartFusion family a fully-customizable, easy-to-use system design platform. Embedded designers can now optimize hardware / software tradeoffs on the fly without board-level changes. In the SmartFusion device, all the data transferred from the processor to the FPGA or from the analog to the processor or between the FPGA and the analog is on-chip. In addition, Actel's FlashLock® technology provides a superior level of intellectual property (IP) security.

When faced with options for co-processing or interface customization, SmartFusion devices offer a compelling solution in a wide variety of applications, including motor control, system and power management and industrial automation. These applications span the industrial, military, medical, telecommunications, computing and storage markets.

“SmartFusion is the innovative, intelligent integration of the key components of a system,” said John East , Actel's president and CEO. “Due to Actel's flash technology, we now offer the industry's first and only no-compromise, fully programmable platform for embedded design.”

A Closer Look

Targeted at today's complex embedded designs, SmartFusion devices evolved from the company's first Fusion mixed signal FPGAs, introduced in 2005. Key components and features of the device are:

Full-Featured FPGA:

SmartFusion devices feature Actel's proven, flash-based ProASIC®3 FPGA architecture.  Built on an advanced 130-nm CMOS process, Actel offers densities ranging from 60K to 500K system gates, with 350 MHz performance and up to 204 I/Os. This combination enables the integration of existing functions from other devices, substantially reducing board space and power consumption of the overall system.

Microcontroller Subsystem:

Intelligence is added to the FPGA in the form of a microcontroller subsystem that features a hard ARM Cortex-M3 processor running at 100 MHz. A full complement of standard peripherals and features include:

  • Multi-layer AHB communications matrix with up to 16 Gbps throughput
  • 10/100 Ethernet MAC with RMII interface
  • Two of each: SPI, I2C, UART, 32-bit Timers
  • Up to 512 KB flash memory and 64 KB of SRAM
  • External memory controller (EMC)
  • 8-channel DMA controller

Programmable Analog:

The innovative and proprietary Analog Compute Engine (ACE) performs sample sequencing and computation, which offloads the ARM Cortex-M3 processor from analog initialization and processing. The programmable analog system features:

  • ADCs and DACs with 1 percent accuracy.  
  • Up to three 12-bit ADC with up to 600 Ksps sampling rate
  • Up to three 12-bit first order sigma delta DACs
  • Up to ten 50 ns high-speed comparators
  • Multiple integrated temperature, voltage and current monitors

Early Customer Engagements

Sampling devices since September 2009 , Actel has been engaged with customers around the globe through a formal lead customer program. For a full six months, designers of a multitude of applications, ranging from servers, routers, and industrial network gateways to solar panel inverters and gaming machines, were given the ability to use the software and silicon prior to market introduction.  

Start Designing Now

The SmartFusion family is supported by Libero® Integrated Design Environment (IDE) v9.0, Actel's comprehensive software toolset for designing with all Actel FPGAs. Libero IDE version 9.0 is immediately available for download, free of charge at  

Libero IDE includes industry-leading synthesis, simulation and debug tools from Synopsys and Mentor Graphics as well as innovative timing and power optimization and analysis. For embedded designers, Actel offers free SoftConsole Eclipse-based IDE with GNU, as well as evaluation versions of software from Keil™ and IAR Systems®. Full versions are available from the respective suppliers. Micrium supports SmartFusion devices with their new real-time operating system (RTOS) uC/OS-III, TCP/IP stack and uC/Probe products.

Pricing and Availability

SmartFusion A2F200 devices are now available in volume production. A2F500 devices are scheduled for delivery in Q2 2010 and A2F060 devices are expected at the second half of the year.  

Evaluation kits priced at $99 and a full development kit for $999 are immediately available. Customers may contact their local Actel sales office or distributor for more information.  

About Actel

Actel is the leader in low power FPGAs and mixed signal FPGAs, offering the most comprehensive portfolio of system and power management solutions. Power Matters. Learn more at

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Actel, Actel Fusion, IGLOO, Libero, Pigeon Point, ProASIC, SmartFusion and the associated logos are trademarks or registered trademarks of Actel Corporation. All other trademarks and service marks are the property of their respective owners.

SOURCE Actel Corporation

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