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Altera adds Cortex-A53 to Stratix 10 SoC devices

31 Oct 2013

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Altera has announced that it is integrating a quad-core 64bit ARM Cortex-A53 processor system into its Stratix 10 SoCs, which are manufactured on Intel's 14nm Tri-Gate process. The new system complements the device's floating-point digital signal processing (DSP) blocks and FPGA fabric. Along with Altera's system-level design tools, including OpenCL, this computing platform is expected to offer adaptability, performance, power efficiency, and design productivity for various applications, including data centre computing acceleration, radar systems, and communications infrastructure.

The ARM Cortex-A53 processor is suited for use in Stratix 10 SoCs owing to its performance, power efficiency, data throughput, and advanced features. The Cortex-A53 also delivers important features, such as virtualisation support, 256TB memory reach, and error correction code (ECC) on L1 and L2 caches. Furthermore, the Cortex-A53 core can run in 32bit mode, which will run Cortex-A9 operating systems and code unmodified, allowing a smooth upgrade path from Altera's 28nm and 20nm SoC FPGAs.

"ARM is pleased to see Altera adopting the lowest power 64bit architecture as an ideal complement to DSP and FPGA processing elements to create a cutting-edge heterogeneous computing platform," said Tom Cronk, executive vice president and general manager, Processor Division, ARM. "The Cortex-A53 processor delivers industry-leading power efficiency and outstanding performance levels, and it is supported by the ARM ecosystem and its innovative software community."

Leveraging Intel's 14 nm Tri-Gate process and an enhanced high-performance architecture, Altera Stratix 10 SoCs will have a programmable-logic performance level of more than 1GHz, which is twice the core performance of current high-end 28nm FPGAs.

"High-end networking and communications infrastructure are rapidly migrating towards heterogeneous computing architectures to achieve maximum system performance and power efficiency," said Linley Gwennap, principal analyst at The Linley Group, a leading embedded research firm. "What Altera is doing with its Stratix 10 SoC, both in terms of silicon convergence and high-level design tool support, puts the company at the forefront of delivering heterogeneous computing platforms and positions them well to capitalise on myriad opportunities."

By standardising on ARM processors across its three-generation SoC portfolio, Altera will offer software compatibility and a common ARM ecosystem of tools and operating system support. Embedded developers will be able to accelerate debug cycles with Altera's SoC Embedded Design Suite (EDS) featuring the ARM Development Studio 5 (DS-5) Altera Edition toolkit, as well as use Altera's software development kit (SDK) for OpenCL to create heterogeneous implementations using the OpenCL high-level design language .

"This will be very exciting for customers as converged silicon continues to be the best solution for complex, high-performance applications," said Danny Biran, senior vice president, corporate strategy and marketing at Altera.

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