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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 11-07-2007, 09:46 PM
rickman
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Default Non-volatile FPGA in a small package

I am looking for my usual FPGA in a small package. This is a contract
design and the customer has a preference to avoid BGAs. The only
leaded part that will fit the board is a 100 pin TQFP. I found a
couple of MAX II devices in this package and Lattice has some MACHXO
parts as well as one XP part. Of the three, I like the XP better as
it has 3000 LUTs to work with as well as PLLs.

Lattice also has an XP2 line which should be lower cost/higher density
as well as lower power. But they don't seem to be available yet. I
don't see stock on any parts and it looks like they are not supporting
the TQ100 package.

I also wanted to consider the Xilinx XC3S-AN parts. The combinations
of device and package are very limited with a one to one
relationship. Each part comes in a different package and *only* that
package. So there is no chance to upgrade to a different density part
once you design the board. Of course, I don't think this is a real
issues for this app, since any of the FPGA types are well large
enough. But I also can't find any pricing. The other parts are all
in the $10 - $15 range. I have no idea if the XC3S-AN is in that same
range.

So does anyone know if the Lattice XP2 and the Xilinx XC3S-AN parts
are ready for prime time? Should I skip these parts and go with one
of the other choices? BTW, the customer has experience with the
Altera parts and can already program them in system. So that is a
definite plus for the MAX II. But it is otherwise at the back of the
field with the least available LUTs and no PLL. So I really want to
use a different part.

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  #2 (permalink)  
Old 11-07-2007, 10:11 PM
Symon
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Default Re: Non-volatile FPGA in a small package

Hi Rick,
Dunno if this helps, saw it in EDN yesterday.
http://www.edn.com/article/CA6495296...&rid=588729451

"High noon for FPGAs: Low-cost-versus- high-end showdown
Greenhorns in the high-end-FPGA market, Lattice and Actel are shooting it
out against old hands Xilinx and Altera in the battle for low-cost devices."
HTH., Syms.


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  #3 (permalink)  
Old 11-07-2007, 11:16 PM
Jim Granville
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Posts: n/a
Default Re: Non-volatile FPGA in a small package

rickman wrote:
> I am looking for my usual FPGA in a small package. This is a contract
> design and the customer has a preference to avoid BGAs. The only
> leaded part that will fit the board is a 100 pin TQFP. I found a
> couple of MAX II devices in this package and Lattice has some MACHXO
> parts as well as one XP part. Of the three, I like the XP better as
> it has 3000 LUTs to work with as well as PLLs.
>
> Lattice also has an XP2 line which should be lower cost/higher density
> as well as lower power. But they don't seem to be available yet. I
> don't see stock on any parts and it looks like they are not supporting
> the TQ100 package.
>
> I also wanted to consider the Xilinx XC3S-AN parts. The combinations
> of device and package are very limited with a one to one
> relationship. Each part comes in a different package and *only* that
> package. So there is no chance to upgrade to a different density part
> once you design the board. Of course, I don't think this is a real
> issues for this app, since any of the FPGA types are well large
> enough. But I also can't find any pricing. The other parts are all
> in the $10 - $15 range. I have no idea if the XC3S-AN is in that same
> range.
>
> So does anyone know if the Lattice XP2 and the Xilinx XC3S-AN parts
> are ready for prime time? Should I skip these parts and go with one
> of the other choices? BTW, the customer has experience with the
> Altera parts and can already program them in system. So that is a
> definite plus for the MAX II. But it is otherwise at the back of the
> field with the least available LUTs and no PLL. So I really want to
> use a different part.


Missing from the 'usual suspects' list seems to be Actel ?

I see their IGLOO series offers both VQ100 and QFN132 ?

VQ100 (14 x 14 mm) 79 71 71 68/13
QN132 (8 x 8 mm) 81 80 84 87/19

-jg


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  #4 (permalink)  
Old 11-07-2007, 11:34 PM
Marc A. Baker
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Default Re: Non-volatile FPGA in a small package

The Spartan-3AN family recently went into full production, with the XC3S50AN
release imminent. I would say that they are ready for prime time. Pricing
is definitely in the same range, partly as a result of the very limited
package options - see the press release from the announcement, which notes a
sub-$5 price for the XC3S200AN
(http://www.xilinx.com/prs_rls/2007/s...spartan3an.htm). Or
you can get a Spartan-3AN Starter Kit with an XC3S700AN for only $225
(http://www.xilinx.com/xlnx/xebiz/des...NavPick=BOARDS)
Unfortunately it takes a while to get pricing and availability onto
distributor web sites, but that will come soon.

Marc Baker
Xilinx

"rickman" <[email protected]> wrote in message
news:[email protected] ps.com...
>I am looking for my usual FPGA in a small package. This is a contract
> design and the customer has a preference to avoid BGAs. The only
> leaded part that will fit the board is a 100 pin TQFP. I found a
> couple of MAX II devices in this package and Lattice has some MACHXO
> parts as well as one XP part. Of the three, I like the XP better as
> it has 3000 LUTs to work with as well as PLLs.
>
> Lattice also has an XP2 line which should be lower cost/higher density
> as well as lower power. But they don't seem to be available yet. I
> don't see stock on any parts and it looks like they are not supporting
> the TQ100 package.
>
> I also wanted to consider the Xilinx XC3S-AN parts. The combinations
> of device and package are very limited with a one to one
> relationship. Each part comes in a different package and *only* that
> package. So there is no chance to upgrade to a different density part
> once you design the board. Of course, I don't think this is a real
> issues for this app, since any of the FPGA types are well large
> enough. But I also can't find any pricing. The other parts are all
> in the $10 - $15 range. I have no idea if the XC3S-AN is in that same
> range.
>
> So does anyone know if the Lattice XP2 and the Xilinx XC3S-AN parts
> are ready for prime time? Should I skip these parts and go with one
> of the other choices? BTW, the customer has experience with the
> Altera parts and can already program them in system. So that is a
> definite plus for the MAX II. But it is otherwise at the back of the
> field with the least available LUTs and no PLL. So I really want to
> use a different part.
>



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  #5 (permalink)  
Old 11-07-2007, 11:54 PM
Alex
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Default Re: Non-volatile FPGA in a small package

On Nov 7, 2:46 pm, rickman <[email protected]> wrote:
> I am looking for my usual FPGA in a small package. This is a contract
> design and the customer has a preference to avoid BGAs. The only
> leaded part that will fit the board is a 100 pin TQFP. I found a
> couple of MAX II devices in this package and Lattice has some MACHXO
> parts as well as one XP part. Of the three, I like the XP better as
> it has 3000 LUTs to work with as well as PLLs.
>
> Lattice also has an XP2 line which should be lower cost/higher density
> as well as lower power. But they don't seem to be available yet. I
> don't see stock on any parts and it looks like they are not supporting
> the TQ100 package.
>
> I also wanted to consider the Xilinx XC3S-AN parts. The combinations
> of device and package are very limited with a one to one
> relationship. Each part comes in a different package and *only* that
> package. So there is no chance to upgrade to a different density part
> once you design the board. Of course, I don't think this is a real
> issues for this app, since any of the FPGA types are well large
> enough. But I also can't find any pricing. The other parts are all
> in the $10 - $15 range. I have no idea if the XC3S-AN is in that same
> range.
>
> So does anyone know if the Lattice XP2 and the Xilinx XC3S-AN parts
> are ready for prime time? Should I skip these parts and go with one
> of the other choices? BTW, the customer has experience with the
> Altera parts and can already program them in system. So that is a
> definite plus for the MAX II. But it is otherwise at the back of the
> field with the least available LUTs and no PLL. So I really want to
> use a different part.


Hi Rick,

Just wanted to let you know that XP2-5 engineering samples are
available now (and the FPGA should be in production by the end of the
year). TQ100 package isn't supported though, however if your customer
will agree to change the anti-BGA preference there is very small 132
pin csBGA package (8x8 mm, only three rows of pins going around the
perimeter) available.

Alex

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  #6 (permalink)  
Old 11-08-2007, 05:20 AM
rickman
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Default Re: Non-volatile FPGA in a small package

On Nov 7, 6:54 pm, Alex <[email protected]> wrote:
> On Nov 7, 2:46 pm, rickman <[email protected]> wrote:
>
> > I am looking for my usual FPGA in a small package. This is a contract
> > design and the customer has a preference to avoid BGAs. The only
> > leaded part that will fit the board is a 100 pin TQFP. I found a
> > couple of MAX II devices in this package and Lattice has some MACHXO
> > parts as well as one XP part. Of the three, I like the XP better as
> > it has 3000 LUTs to work with as well as PLLs.

>
> > Lattice also has an XP2 line which should be lower cost/higher density
> > as well as lower power. But they don't seem to be available yet. I
> > don't see stock on any parts and it looks like they are not supporting
> > the TQ100 package.

>
> > I also wanted to consider the Xilinx XC3S-AN parts. The combinations
> > of device and package are very limited with a one to one
> > relationship. Each part comes in a different package and *only* that
> > package. So there is no chance to upgrade to a different density part
> > once you design the board. Of course, I don't think this is a real
> > issues for this app, since any of the FPGA types are well large
> > enough. But I also can't find any pricing. The other parts are all
> > in the $10 - $15 range. I have no idea if the XC3S-AN is in that same
> > range.

>
> > So does anyone know if the Lattice XP2 and the Xilinx XC3S-AN parts
> > are ready for prime time? Should I skip these parts and go with one
> > of the other choices? BTW, the customer has experience with the
> > Altera parts and can already program them in system. So that is a
> > definite plus for the MAX II. But it is otherwise at the back of the
> > field with the least available LUTs and no PLL. So I really want to
> > use a different part.

>
> Hi Rick,
>
> Just wanted to let you know that XP2-5 engineering samples are
> available now (and the FPGA should be in production by the end of the
> year). TQ100 package isn't supported though, however if your customer
> will agree to change the anti-BGA preference there is very small 132
> pin csBGA package (8x8 mm, only three rows of pins going around the
> perimeter) available.
>
> Alex



Ok, that is good to know. But I still don't have any idea of the
price. I would have thought that these parts would be a bit cheaper
than the XP line, but it looks like the smallest member of the family
is a bit bigger than in the XP line and has a lot more features. So I
don't know if it will be any cheaper and may actually be a lot more
expensive since it only comes in packages with higher pin counts. I
know that price correlates very strongly with I/O count.

Other than the issues with customer confidence (he had a bad
experience with Lattice tools once) either the XP or the MachXO line
seem to provide the most flexibility. The XP is a lot larger and has
the PLL that I might need. The MachXO uses the TQ100 package for all
four device sizes and the two largest also have a PLL. The one
advantage of the Altera chips is that they appear to support a user
flash memory while the Lattice parts don't seem to have that. This is
not a show stopper, just something to note.

Looking at the tools, it is not clear to me if I can really evaluate
them using ispLever Starter. This package seems to not include the
full set of tools including the simulator and programmer. So I can't
actually program a device with the starter tool, right? Is the
simulator that comes with the ispLever package limited in any way?
The web site does not describe it very well.


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  #7 (permalink)  
Old 11-08-2007, 05:28 AM
rickman
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Default Re: Non-volatile FPGA in a small package

On Nov 7, 6:34 pm, "Marc A. Baker" <[email protected]> wrote:
> The Spartan-3AN family recently went into full production, with the XC3S50AN
> release imminent. I would say that they are ready for prime time. Pricing
> is definitely in the same range, partly as a result of the very limited
> package options - see the press release from the announcement, which notes a
> sub-$5 price for the XC3S200AN
> (http://www.xilinx.com/prs_rls/2007/s...spartan3an.htm). Or
> you can get a Spartan-3AN Starter Kit with an XC3S700AN for only $225
> (http://www.xilinx.com/xlnx/xebiz/des...duct_details.j...)
> Unfortunately it takes a while to get pricing and availability onto
> distributor web sites, but that will come soon.
>
> Marc Baker
> Xilinx


Thanks for the info. If the XC3S50AN is not even in production yet I
am not so sure I am ready to use it. Xilinx does not have a good
reputation for making parts available to the masses in early
production, much less preproduction. Besides, I still have no idea
how much it will cost. Saying it is $5 in qty 250,000 would make me
think I could get 100 at $10 each, but past experience has shown it
can be anywhere North of $20 instead. That would not be very
competitive.

One thing Xilinx has in its favor is the reputation of the tools.
Even the web pack version seems to be pretty good.

But the skids are greased for Altera with the customer already having
support for programming them in-system. Too bad the MAX II parts are
not the first choice technically.


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  #8 (permalink)  
Old 11-08-2007, 08:47 AM
Uwe Bonnes
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Default Re: Non-volatile FPGA in a small package

Marc A. Baker <[email protected]> wrote:
> The Spartan-3AN family recently went into full production,
> with the XC3S50ANrelease imminent. I would say that they
> are ready for prime time. Pricing ...


As long as Digikey doesn't carry them, they are not ready...

--
Uwe Bonnes [email protected]

Institut fuer Kernphysik Schlossgartenstrasse 9 64289 Darmstadt
--------- Tel. 06151 162516 -------- Fax. 06151 164321 ----------
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  #9 (permalink)  
Old 11-08-2007, 09:08 AM
Maki
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Default Re: Non-volatile FPGA in a small package

<snip>
> Looking at the tools, it is not clear to me if I can really evaluate
> them using ispLever Starter. This package seems to not include the
> full set of tools including the simulator and programmer. So I can't
> actually program a device with the starter tool, right? Is the
> simulator that comes with the ispLever package limited in any way?
> The web site does not describe it very well.


No simulator but programmer is there. As for a hardware they offer a
cheap parallel and pricey USB programmer. I've used ispLever Starter
in several projects IMHO it is a good tool.

Regards,
Maki

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  #10 (permalink)  
Old 11-08-2007, 11:53 AM
Brian Drummond
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Default Re: Non-volatile FPGA in a small package

On Wed, 07 Nov 2007 21:28:25 -0800, rickman <[email protected]> wrote:

>On Nov 7, 6:34 pm, "Marc A. Baker" <[email protected]> wrote:
>> The Spartan-3AN family recently went into full production, with the XC3S50AN
>> release imminent. I would say that they are ready for prime time. Pricing
>> is definitely in the same range, partly as a result of the very limited
>> package options - see the press release from the announcement, which notes a
>> sub-$5 price for the XC3S200AN


>> Marc Baker
>> Xilinx

>
>Thanks for the info. If the XC3S50AN is not even in production yet I
>am not so sure I am ready to use it. Xilinx does not have a good
>reputation for making parts available to the masses in early
>production, much less preproduction. Besides, I still have no idea
>how much it will cost. Saying it is $5 in qty 250,000 would make me
>think I could get 100 at $10 each, but past experience has shown it
>can be anywhere North of $20 instead. That would not be very
>competitive.


Searching em.avnet.com shows XC3S50AN-4TQG144CES at $14.89 - no
stock of course, but "they say" 4 week leadtime. I believe that's a
notional 1-off price (no: "buy qty 22") so 100-off is likely to be
closer to $14 than $5.

As for development, you can presumably use the equivalent XC3S50A part
($12, for the -I grade, 16 in stock) to get started, and move to the -AN
when they appear. (Xilinx wouldn't make the pinouts incompatible, would
they? :-)

- Brian
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  #11 (permalink)  
Old 11-08-2007, 01:33 PM
rickman
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Default Re: Non-volatile FPGA in a small package

On Nov 8, 6:53 am, Brian Drummond <[email protected]>
wrote:
> On Wed, 07 Nov 2007 21:28:25 -0800, rickman <[email protected]> wrote:
> >On Nov 7, 6:34 pm, "Marc A. Baker" <[email protected]> wrote:
> >> The Spartan-3AN family recently went into full production, with the XC3S50AN
> >> release imminent. I would say that they are ready for prime time. Pricing
> >> is definitely in the same range, partly as a result of the very limited
> >> package options - see the press release from the announcement, which notes a
> >> sub-$5 price for the XC3S200AN
> >> Marc Baker
> >> Xilinx

>
> >Thanks for the info. If the XC3S50AN is not even in production yet I
> >am not so sure I am ready to use it. Xilinx does not have a good
> >reputation for making parts available to the masses in early
> >production, much less preproduction. Besides, I still have no idea
> >how much it will cost. Saying it is $5 in qty 250,000 would make me
> >think I could get 100 at $10 each, but past experience has shown it
> >can be anywhere North of $20 instead. That would not be very
> >competitive.

>
> Searching em.avnet.com shows XC3S50AN-4TQG144CES at $14.89 - no
> stock of course, but "they say" 4 week leadtime. I believe that's a
> notional 1-off price (no: "buy qty 22") so 100-off is likely to be
> closer to $14 than $5.
>
> As for development, you can presumably use the equivalent XC3S50A part
> ($12, for the -I grade, 16 in stock) to get started, and move to the -AN
> when they appear. (Xilinx wouldn't make the pinouts incompatible, would
> they? :-)
>
> - Brian


Thanks, I had searched there, but I forgot to check "Search All Items"
rather than just stock. I'll take a look for the 256BGA.

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  #12 (permalink)  
Old 11-08-2007, 02:06 PM
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Default Re: Non-volatile FPGA in a small package

HI Rick,

I don't know where you are based, but there is a company in Germany
(www.hardware-design.de) that sells an XO-640 starter kit for
something like 75. This kit can be used as USB based programmer too
(it has all the pins available to the outside world).

I've seen prices for the XP2 (5K LUT) in T144 package for less then
$10 in normal quantities.

Besides - I've made a 50x50mm board with this device on it, got my ES
silicon pretty fast. This board has about 50 pins to be uses as a
mezzanine board.

Best regards,

Luc

On Wed, 07 Nov 2007 21:20:15 -0800, rickman <[email protected]> wrote:

>On Nov 7, 6:54 pm, Alex <[email protected]> wrote:
>> On Nov 7, 2:46 pm, rickman <[email protected]> wrote:
>>
>> > I am looking for my usual FPGA in a small package. This is a contract
>> > design and the customer has a preference to avoid BGAs. The only
>> > leaded part that will fit the board is a 100 pin TQFP. I found a
>> > couple of MAX II devices in this package and Lattice has some MACHXO
>> > parts as well as one XP part. Of the three, I like the XP better as
>> > it has 3000 LUTs to work with as well as PLLs.

>>
>> > Lattice also has an XP2 line which should be lower cost/higher density
>> > as well as lower power. But they don't seem to be available yet. I
>> > don't see stock on any parts and it looks like they are not supporting
>> > the TQ100 package.

>>
>> > I also wanted to consider the Xilinx XC3S-AN parts. The combinations
>> > of device and package are very limited with a one to one
>> > relationship. Each part comes in a different package and *only* that
>> > package. So there is no chance to upgrade to a different density part
>> > once you design the board. Of course, I don't think this is a real
>> > issues for this app, since any of the FPGA types are well large
>> > enough. But I also can't find any pricing. The other parts are all
>> > in the $10 - $15 range. I have no idea if the XC3S-AN is in that same
>> > range.

>>
>> > So does anyone know if the Lattice XP2 and the Xilinx XC3S-AN parts
>> > are ready for prime time? Should I skip these parts and go with one
>> > of the other choices? BTW, the customer has experience with the
>> > Altera parts and can already program them in system. So that is a
>> > definite plus for the MAX II. But it is otherwise at the back of the
>> > field with the least available LUTs and no PLL. So I really want to
>> > use a different part.

>>
>> Hi Rick,
>>
>> Just wanted to let you know that XP2-5 engineering samples are
>> available now (and the FPGA should be in production by the end of the
>> year). TQ100 package isn't supported though, however if your customer
>> will agree to change the anti-BGA preference there is very small 132
>> pin csBGA package (8x8 mm, only three rows of pins going around the
>> perimeter) available.
>>
>> Alex

>
>
>Ok, that is good to know. But I still don't have any idea of the
>price. I would have thought that these parts would be a bit cheaper
>than the XP line, but it looks like the smallest member of the family
>is a bit bigger than in the XP line and has a lot more features. So I
>don't know if it will be any cheaper and may actually be a lot more
>expensive since it only comes in packages with higher pin counts. I
>know that price correlates very strongly with I/O count.
>
>Other than the issues with customer confidence (he had a bad
>experience with Lattice tools once) either the XP or the MachXO line
>seem to provide the most flexibility. The XP is a lot larger and has
>the PLL that I might need. The MachXO uses the TQ100 package for all
>four device sizes and the two largest also have a PLL. The one
>advantage of the Altera chips is that they appear to support a user
>flash memory while the Lattice parts don't seem to have that. This is
>not a show stopper, just something to note.
>
>Looking at the tools, it is not clear to me if I can really evaluate
>them using ispLever Starter. This package seems to not include the
>full set of tools including the simulator and programmer. So I can't
>actually program a device with the starter tool, right? Is the
>simulator that comes with the ispLever package limited in any way?
>The web site does not describe it very well.
>

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  #13 (permalink)  
Old 11-08-2007, 02:39 PM
Alex
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Default Re: Non-volatile FPGA in a small package

On Nov 8, 2:08 am, Maki <[email protected]> wrote:
> <snip>
>
> > Looking at the tools, it is not clear to me if I can really evaluate
> > them using ispLever Starter. This package seems to not include the
> > full set of tools including the simulator and programmer. So I can't
> > actually program a device with the starter tool, right? Is the
> > simulator that comes with the ispLever package limited in any way?
> > The web site does not describe it very well.

>
> No simulator but programmer is there. As for a hardware they offer a
> cheap parallel and pricey USB programmer. I've used ispLever Starter
> in several projects IMHO it is a good tool.
>
> Regards,
> Maki


You can get a 60 days evalution for full ispLever tool including
Modelsim for Lattice (without any performance limitations) it,
probably, will cover the time-frame you'll need.

Alex

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  #14 (permalink)  
Old 11-08-2007, 03:14 PM
Kryvor
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Default Re: Non-volatile FPGA in a small package

> I am looking for my usual FPGA in a small package. This is a contract
> design and the customer has a preference to avoid BGAs. The only
> leaded part that will fit the board is a 100 pin TQFP. I found a
> couple of MAX II devices in this package and Lattice has some MACHXO
> parts as well as one XP part. Of the three, I like the XP better as
> it has 3000 LUTs to work with as well as PLLs.


You might find that Actel suits your needs ...

http://www.actel.com/documents/selguide.pdf

(It looks as though Actel carries some smaller ProASICPlus parts in a
TQFP 100 package. Those parts have 2 PLLs and are Flash-based
[reprogrammable, immune to SEUs, etc.].)


K.

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  #15 (permalink)  
Old 11-08-2007, 03:56 PM
rickman
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Default Re: Non-volatile FPGA in a small package

On Nov 8, 4:08 am, Maki <[email protected]> wrote:
> <snip>
>
> > Looking at the tools, it is not clear to me if I can really evaluate
> > them using ispLever Starter. This package seems to not include the
> > full set of tools including the simulator and programmer. So I can't
> > actually program a device with the starter tool, right? Is the
> > simulator that comes with the ispLever package limited in any way?
> > The web site does not describe it very well.

>
> No simulator but programmer is there. As for a hardware they offer a
> cheap parallel and pricey USB programmer. I've used ispLever Starter
> in several projects IMHO it is a good tool.
>
> Regards,
> Maki


But if there is no simulator, how can you really do anything useful
with the Starter kit? If you just want to play with the software it
would be fine, but if you really want to evaluate the package, you
need to do a small project which requires a simulator, no? I just
don't have the time to spend playing with tools other than for a
project of some sort. My customer told me he tried the Lattice parts
once and had a problem using the tools, so I would want to give them a
thorough going over and still be prepared to switch to a different
brand of part if the tools proved wonky.

In another thread early this year, I was reading that the parallel
port has gone they way of the dodo bird (at least on laptops) and none
of the alternate parallel port solutions really work reliably. So I
want to avoid them at all costs. I'll look at the USB programmer. I
haven't had a chance to read up on programming the little buggers. Do
these programmers work through the JTAG port on the parts?


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  #16 (permalink)  
Old 11-08-2007, 04:43 PM
John_H
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Default Re: Non-volatile FPGA in a small package

"Kryvor" <[email protected]> wrote in message
news:[email protected] oups.com...
<snip>
>
> (It looks as though Actel carries some smaller ProASICPlus parts in a
> TQFP 100 package. Those parts have 2 PLLs and are Flash-based
> [reprogrammable, immune to SEUs, etc.].)


The Flash cells may be imune to SEUs but the active logic certainly isn't.
SEUs "tend" to be noticed in SRAM cells first but registers are also
affected by the same radiation for FPGAs of any flavor as well as ASICs and
other standard parts.

- John_H


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  #17 (permalink)  
Old 11-08-2007, 07:25 PM
Maki
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Default Re: Non-volatile FPGA in a small package

On Nov 8, 4:56 pm, rickman <[email protected]> wrote:
> On Nov 8, 4:08 am, Maki <[email protected]> wrote:
>
> > <snip>

>
> > > Looking at the tools, it is not clear to me if I can really evaluate
> > > them using ispLever Starter. This package seems to not include the
> > > full set of tools including the simulator and programmer. So I can't
> > > actually program a device with the starter tool, right? Is the
> > > simulator that comes with the ispLever package limited in any way?
> > > The web site does not describe it very well.

>
> > No simulator but programmer is there. As for a hardware they offer a
> > cheap parallel and pricey USB programmer. I've used ispLever Starter
> > in several projects IMHO it is a good tool.

>
> > Regards,
> > Maki

>
> But if there is no simulator, how can you really do anything useful
> with the Starter kit? If you just want to play with the software it
> would be fine, but if you really want to evaluate the package, you
> need to do a small project which requires a simulator, no? I just
> don't have the time to spend playing with tools other than for a
> project of some sort. My customer told me he tried the Lattice parts
> once and had a problem using the tools, so I would want to give them a
> thorough going over and still be prepared to switch to a different
> brand of part if the tools proved wonky.


> In another thread early this year, I was reading that the parallel
> port has gone they way of the dodo bird (at least on laptops) and none
> of the alternate parallel port solutions really work reliably. So I
> want to avoid them at all costs. I'll look at the USB programmer. I
> haven't had a chance to read up on programming the little buggers. Do
> these programmers work through the JTAG port on the parts?


I use external tool for simulation and an USB programmer. Yes
programmer uses JTAG or slave serial.

Regards,
Maki



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  #18 (permalink)  
Old 11-09-2007, 03:15 AM
Gabor
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Default Re: Non-volatile FPGA in a small package

On Nov 8, 2:25 pm, Maki <[email protected]> wrote:
> On Nov 8, 4:56 pm, rickman <[email protected]> wrote:
>
>
>
> > On Nov 8, 4:08 am, Maki <[email protected]> wrote:

>
> > > <snip>

>
> > > > Looking at the tools, it is not clear to me if I can really evaluate
> > > > them using ispLever Starter. This package seems to not include the
> > > > full set of tools including the simulator and programmer. So I can't
> > > > actually program a device with the starter tool, right? Is the
> > > > simulator that comes with the ispLever package limited in any way?
> > > > The web site does not describe it very well.

>
> > > No simulator but programmer is there. As for a hardware they offer a
> > > cheap parallel and pricey USB programmer. I've used ispLever Starter
> > > in several projects IMHO it is a good tool.

>
> > > Regards,
> > > Maki

>
> > But if there is no simulator, how can you really do anything useful
> > with the Starter kit? If you just want to play with the software it
> > would be fine, but if you really want to evaluate the package, you
> > need to do a small project which requires a simulator, no? I just
> > don't have the time to spend playing with tools other than for a
> > project of some sort. My customer told me he tried the Lattice parts
> > once and had a problem using the tools, so I would want to give them a
> > thorough going over and still be prepared to switch to a different
> > brand of part if the tools proved wonky.
> > In another thread early this year, I was reading that the parallel
> > port has gone they way of the dodo bird (at least on laptops) and none
> > of the alternate parallel port solutions really work reliably. So I
> > want to avoid them at all costs. I'll look at the USB programmer. I
> > haven't had a chance to read up on programming the little buggers. Do
> > these programmers work through the JTAG port on the parts?

>
> I use external tool for simulation and an USB programmer. Yes
> programmer uses JTAG or slave serial.
>
> Regards,
> Maki



It's not free, but the full ispLever software is not expensive and
includes
branded ModelSim similar to the Xilinx ISE offering. If your starting
from Altera tools rather than Xilinx, you may not find the ispLever
quite as familiar. Those of us coming from the "X" world can see
the common roots of ISE and ispLever from NeoCad. Even the
file extensions are (mostly) the same.

I have also had issues with ispLever, but I am fairly happy with
the 6.1 version, and I understand 7.1 is better, but I haven't
upgraded yet. ispLever also includes a choice of Synplify
or Precision for synthesis, so if you're comfortable with
one of these already you can get a running start.

As for the quad flat packs, I would not recommend using them
for high-speed designs that may be sensitive to ground bounce.
I had trouble with ECP2-6 parts (similar to XP2 but no flash)
in the TQ144. The designed used a 7:1 deserializer (Channel
Link) and had trouble locking when other unrelated outputs
were switching. I got the design to run by using slow
slew rate on outputs, but couldn't do everything I wanted with
it. I have a new design with the same part in the 256-pin
BGA and it is very stable even with a lot of fast switching
and two 7:1 deserializers. Since you mentioned PLL's
I thought you should be aware of this sort of package
issue even if you don't need to run particularly fast.

Regards,
Gabor

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  #19 (permalink)  
Old 11-10-2007, 02:39 AM
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Default Re: Non-volatile FPGA in a small package

On Nov 8, 10:14 am, Kryvor <[email protected]> wrote:

> You might find that Actel suits your needs ...
>
> http://www.actel.com/documents/selguide.pdf
>
> (It looks as though Actel carries some smaller ProASICPlus parts in a
> TQFP 100 package. Those parts have 2 PLLs and are Flash-based
> [reprogrammable, immune to SEUs, etc.].)


Yes, however there's a big differnece between developing for these vs.
Altera or Xilinx SRAM parts: the toolchain is less integrated and thus
much slower, and the programmer is outrageously slow and pricey for
what you get. If you are used to fully integrated toolflow, and to
doing fast test downloads during development, this can be quite
aggravating.

It also seems that you can't get pullups on inputs, and instead of
merely being cautioned against using non-clock inputs as clocks, you
literally can't do it - meaning board designs with stupid mistakes
that might be programmed away with other devices are more likely to
require modifications with these.

On the other hand, if you prefer to do everything in simulation and
not make incremental trials in hardware, and you value synopsis over X
or A's tools enough to habitually use it anyway, then maybe these
parts are just your thing.

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  #20 (permalink)  
Old 11-11-2007, 01:04 PM
Thomas Stanka
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Default Re: Non-volatile FPGA in a small package

Hi,

On 10 Nov., 03:39, [email protected] wrote:
> It also seems that you can't get pullups on inputs, and instead of
> merely being cautioned against using non-clock inputs as clocks, you
> literally can't do it - meaning board designs with stupid mistakes
> that might be programmed away with other devices are more likely to
> require modifications with these.


You can't use clk input buffer on non clock input pads, but you can
use any input as feed for the internal clock buffer (GLint) to drive
the clocks from any input you like. The perfomance may be much better,
when using the clock pads, but you are not limited.

> On the other hand, if you prefer to do everything in simulation and
> not make incremental trials in hardware, and you value synopsis over X
> or A's tools enough to habitually use it anyway, then maybe these
> parts are just your thing.


You can use Synopsys for synthesis of any fpga, but I guess, you get
not very good results when using it for ram or flash based Fpgas. Even
for Actel fuse based fpgas you need to check, wheter you get better
results with Synopsy or Synplify. I used both synthesis tools for
serveral flash based designs and learned, that I gained sometimes 10%
with the one and sometimes with the other tool (depending on the
design).

bye Thomas

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  #21 (permalink)  
Old 11-11-2007, 04:05 PM
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Default Re: Non-volatile FPGA in a small package

On Nov 11, 8:04 am, Thomas Stanka <[email protected]>
wrote:

> You can't use clk input buffer on non clock input pads, but you can
> use any input as feed for the internal clock buffer (GLint) to drive
> the clocks from any input you like. The perfomance may be much better,
> when using the clock pads, but you are not limited.


Maybe if you tell it exactly what primitives you want you can do it.

But the obvious case of simply writing HDL code that uses a non-clock
input as a clock, fails. Wheras it works on X or A - albeit with
warnings.

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  #22 (permalink)  
Old 11-14-2007, 06:26 PM
Kris Vorwerk
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Default Re: Non-volatile FPGA in a small package

Hi,

On Nov 8, 8:43 am, "John_H" <[email protected]> wrote:
> "Kryvor" <[email protected]> wrote in message
>
> > (It looks as thoughActelcarries some smaller ProASICPlus parts in a
> > TQFP 100 package. Those parts have 2 PLLs and are Flash-based
> > [reprogrammable, immune to SEUs, etc.].)

>
> The Flash cells may be imune to SEUs but the active logic certainly isn't.
> SEUs "tend" to be noticed in SRAM cells first but registers are also
> affected by the same radiation for FPGAs of any flavor as well as ASICs and
> other standard parts.


Fair enough.

It would have been more accurate for me to say that Actel's Flash
FPGAs are immune to configuration loss due to single-event errors.

In the interest of thoroughness, Actel's Flash FPGAs *have* undergone
substantial FIT testing and are quite resilient (compared to SRAM
devices) in terms of their alpha and neutron radiation handling:
http://www.actel.com/products/solutions/ser/


cheers,
K.

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  #23 (permalink)  
Old 11-14-2007, 10:25 PM
Kris Vorwerk
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Default Re: Non-volatile FPGA in a small package

Hi,

I apologize if this gets double-posted; I think that Google Groups may
have eaten my first reply. (So this is attempt #2


> > You might find that Actel suits your needs ...

>
> >http://www.actel.com/documents/selguide.pdf

>
> > (It looks as though Actel carries some smaller ProASICPlus parts in a
> > TQFP 100 package. Those parts have 2 PLLs and are Flash-based
> > [reprogrammable, immune to SEUs, etc.].)

>
> Yes, however there's a big differnece between developing for these vs.
> Altera or Xilinx SRAM parts: the toolchain is less integrated and thus
> much slower,



I'm not entirely sure what you mean by "less integrated" -- Actel's
toolflow is completely integrated inside the Libero GUI, and is also
completely automatable/scriptable from the command line, using TCL
scripts. (While the toolflow *does* use Synplify for RTL synthesis,
this is often viewed as a strong point due to the high quality of
results achievable using Synplicity's software.)

Work is being done all the time to improve the runtime and performance
of the designs produced by the toolsuite; if you have a strangely-slow
case, I would urge you to bring this to Actel's attention so that
engineering can take a look at it.



> and the programmer is outrageously slow and pricey for
> what you get. If you are used to fully integrated toolflow, and to


I believe that the FlashPro programmer comes with most of the Starter
Kits, which I've always found were pretty well-priced. (I think that
you can also purchase the standalone programmer separately, but to be
honest, I don't recall its price or how it compares to other
companies.)

That said, if you've encountered any strange, slow-programming cases,
you should bring it to Actel's attention.


> It also seems that you can't get pullups on inputs, and instead of


Not true I/Os in Proasic/Fusion/Igloo can be configured for
numerous different I/O standards and have various features, including
low power mode, internal pull-up resistors, Schmitt trigger for
inputs, and selectable drive strength and slew rate.


> merely being cautioned against using non-clock inputs as clocks, you
> literally can't do it - meaning board designs with stupid mistakes


Not true In general, non-clock I/Os in Proasic/Fusion/Igloo can
drive internal clock buffers from basically any input. (There are
some minor caveats where only certain I/Os can be used when employing
specialized features, like quadrant clocks and certain PLL
configurations and/or I/O bank configurations.)


> On the other hand, if you prefer to do everything in simulation and
> not make incremental trials in hardware, and you value synopsis over X


Incremental trials in hardware are certainly encouraged Actel's
Flash products are reprogrammable, and in practice, the toolflow is
heavily optimized for high-quality, fast runtime. Again, if you've
encountered an oddly slow case, it can't hurt to bring it to Actel's
attention so that the problems can be looked and rectified.

(Also, a minor point of note -- I don't know if Synopsis' tools work
with Libero. I know that Synplicity's Synplify ships with all
versions of Libero, and some versions are also compatible with Magma's
Palace software.)


cheers,
K.

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