Altera rolls low power, anti-tamper FPGAs

SAN FRANCISCO—Altera Corp. this week is rolling out a new product family, Cyclone III LS, billed by the company as the industry's first low power FPGAs with anti-tamper, design-security and design-separation features.

According to Altera (San Jose, Calif.), the new devices offer the highest logic, memory, and DSP density per board area.

“This family was squeezed into our product portfolio by our customers completely,” said Umar Mughal, manager for low-cost products at Altera. Mughal said customers started coming to Altera a few months after Cyclone III was introduced in March 2007, asking for higher density and new features. “We were already planning a next generation family, but [customers] forced us to pull it in very quickly because they had some time to market issues,” he said.

Cyclone III LS FPGAs consume less than 0.25W of static power for 200,000 logic elements, Altera said. The devices, which recently began shipping, target power and board-space-sensitive applications in all market segments including military and industrial, the company said.

Cyclone III LS security features include an information-assurance design suite that offers anti-tamper, design-security and design-separation capabilities, according to Altera. The devices' anti-tamper features include JTAG port protection, tamper monitoring and cyclical redundancy check, the company said. The devices also feature an industry-standard AES 256-bit encryption key for design security, according to the company.

According to Mughal, the design-separation feature enables the creation of physically isolated partitions, providing protection against faults, increasing system up time and a higher level of integration on a single device. Mughal said the design-separation feature enables system designers to use a single FPGA rather when they may have otherwise used two for redundancy.

Mughal said customers who aren't necessarily interested in the security and anti-tamper features provided by the Cyclone III LS devices are still interested in the devices based on their density and power profiles. But, he added, security is becoming an increasing concern even in applications that have not traditionally needed it because of IP theft and other issues.

Cyclone III LS FPGAs also allow a single-chip solution for military applications such as software-defined radio, crypto-subsystems and crypto modernization equipment, Altera said.

Cyclone III LS devices will be supported in the Quartus II software version 9.0 SP2, Altera said. Pricing information was not provided. More information about the Cyclone III LS devices is available on
Altera’s website.

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