Profile: Altera Corp (ALTR.O)
Altera Corporation is a global semiconductor company. The Company designs, manufactures, and markets high-density programmable logic devices (PLDs), HardCopy ASIC devices, pre-defined design building blocks known as intellectual property (IP) cores, and associated development tools. Its PLDs, which consist of field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs), and complex programmable logic devices (CPLDs), are semiconductor integrated circuits that are manufactured as standard chips that its customers program to perform desired logic functions within their electronic systems. With its HardCopy devices the Company offers its customers a migration path from a PLD to a non-programmable implementation of their designs. Its customers can license IP cores from the Company for implementation of standard functions in their PLD designs. Customers develop, compile, and verify their PLD designs, and then program their designs into its PLDs using its development software, which operates on personal computers and engineering workstations. Its products serve a range of customers within the Telecom and Wireless, Industrial Automation, Military and Automotive, Networking, Computer and Storage and Other vertical markets. In April 2013, the Company acquired TPACK, a wholly owned subsidiary of Applied Micro Circuits Corp.
The Company’s devices fall into four categories: FPGAs, CPLDs, HardCopy ASICs and Configuration devices that store the programming code for its FPGAs. Its Stratix product families are built using advanced CMOS process technology and address a range of applications requiring system integration across all its markets. Embedded HardCopy blocks within its Stratix V FPGA architecture enable Altera to create application-targeted devices by hardening of standard or logic-intensive functions. Additionally, its Stratix V GX and Stratix V GT FPGAs offer advanced transceiver capabilities for applications that require reliable, multi-gigabit serial data transfer rates of up to 28 gigabits per second.
The Company’s Arria product families are built using advanced CMOS process technology and enable a simplified transceiver-based design for applications requiring high-performance data transfer protocols. Arria V GX FPGAs offer signal integrity with data transfer rates of up to 10 gigabits per second, providing designers a solution for next-generation high-bandwidth systems across all its markets. In addition, its Arria V SoC FPGAs integrate an ARM-based hard processor system consisting of processor, peripherals, and memory interfaces with the FPGA fabric using a high-bandwidth interconnect backbone.
The Company’s Cyclone product families are built using advanced CMOS process technology. Its Cyclone V GX FPGAs incorporate up to 12 integrated transceivers with data rates up to five gigabits per second. Its MAX families are instant-on, non-volatile CPLDs that are used in general purpose and portable designs for a range of electronics equipment. Its HardCopy ASICs offer customers a migration path from high density FPGA families to a low-cost ASIC for high-volume production.
Intellectual Property Cores
IP cores are pre-verified building blocks that execute system-level functions. An IP core is typically offered in either a hard or soft form. A hard IP core is embedded into the actual circuitry of its chips, which yields a small die area. Its FPGA product generations have introduced hard IP cores such as variable-precision DSP blocks, multi-gigabit transceivers, embedded processor cores and a variety of interface protocols.
The Nios series of embedded processors uses a reduced instruction-set computing (RISC) architecture and can be used in its FPGAs and HardCopy ASIC devices as an alternative to discrete microcontroller solutions. Other embedded processor IP cores, both hard and soft implementations, are also offered and supported by Altera through partnership agreements with companies, including ARM Ltd. and MIPS Technologies. The Company offers a range of soft IP cores for DSP algorithms, bus interfaces, memory controllers, telecommunications, data communications, microprocessors, and peripherals. Before licensing a soft IP core, customers can download an encrypted soft IP core from its Website and verify that it works in their own system designs.
The Company’s development tools, consisting primarily of the Quartus II software, for design entry, design compilation, design verification, and device programming. Designers can use its development tools on a variety of computing platforms, including Microsoft Windows, UNIX (including Solaris and HP-UX), and Linux operating environments, with built-in interfaces to industry-standard EDA tools offered by Cadence Design Systems, Inc., Mentor Graphics Corporation, Synopsys, Inc. and others.
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