Altera considers options for hardwired processor cores

Altera considers options for hardwired processor cores
Richard Wilson
Altera is looking at the possibility of integrating hardwired microprocessor cores into its programmable logic devices.
The firm, which is shipping what it claims is the industry’s first system on a programmable chip, the Apex 20K family, already offers software that emulates the processor function, known as soft cores, on its FPGAs.
The company is coming to the view that it will need more on-chip processing performance than offered by soft cores if it is to offer systems-on-a-chip designs to compete with Asics in telecoms and video applications.
“Right now there is a debate within the company about how and when we could include a hardwired processor core,” said Nigel Toon, Altera’s European managing director.
Toon gave the example of the 32-bit MIPS R3000 microprocessor core. “On a 200,000 gate PLD this will use up 49 per cent of the available space, but on a million gate device this falls to just 11 per cent and on a two million gate device including the processor is no longer an issue,” said Toon.


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