Altera is using its low cost, high volume FPGA family as its route into production on the latest 65nm technology.
The Cyclone III family started shipping this month and provides 5000 logic elements for as little as $4 in high volumes, up to 120,000 logic elements at the high end. This overlaps with the higher performance Stratix III family which was announced last year but has still to go into production on 65nm. Arch competitor Xilinx has been shipping its high end Virtex 5 FPGAs on 65nm for the last six months.
Cyclone III is specifically designed for TSMC's low power 65nm process, with power consumption as low as 0.5W which is targeting it to embedded applications such as portable software defined radio systems and low cost pico basestation designs, says Robert Blake, Altera's vice president of product marketing. The family includes up to 4 Mbits of memory and up to 288 digital signal processing (DSP) multipliers, with the whole family rolling out over the next six months.
Using a low power process has hit the performance of the parts, allowing LVDS up to 875MHz and 200MHz DDR2 memory interfaces, half that of the Stratix III family.