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Platform offers sub-100ms FPGA reconfiguration

Posted: 08 Sep 2010     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:FPGA programming  USB 2.0  logic circuit designs 

Future Devices Technology International Ltd (FTDI) introduces the Morph-IC-II development platform to speed the creation of FPGA-based applications and simplify the integration of Hi-Speed 480Mbit/s USB communication in advanced logic circuit designs. The Morph-IC-II platform combines an Altera Cyclone-II FPGA with high-performance USB 2.0 capabilities that facilitate Hi-Speed communications claiming ultra-fast, sub-100ms FPGA programming/re-programming.


The Morph-IC-II targets applications which require users to reconfigure hardware functionality 'on-the-fly' by downloading new software over USB: "morphing" the hardware. As well as enhancing application flexibility, hardware reconfiguration via USB also offers reduced BoM costs as the FPGA need only be sized for the most complex discrete function rather than all potential functions.

FTDI's platform incorporates all of the hardware, software and documentation needed for 'out-of-the-box' FPGA development. The hardware comprises a compact development module incorporating an Altera EP2C5F256C8N Cyclone-II FPGA and an FTDI FT2232H USB-to-multipurpose UART/FIFO IC. One channel of the FT2232H is utilised for FPGA-to-PC communications and supports data transfer speeds of up to 40MB/s. The second channel of the FT2232H is used to configure and reconfigure the FPGA over USB. USB programming eliminates the need for Flash configuration memory normally required to configure SRAM-based FPGAs.

The Morph-IC-II features up to 80 general purpose I/O (GPIO) lines offering optimum flexibility for connecting the FPGA to external circuits and interfaces.

USB software interfacing is provided via FTDI's royalty-free drivers and sample FPGA reference designs help to speed prototyping and further reduce development times. The FPGA can be rapidly programmed and configured using Altera's Quartus II development software, which is available as a free download from the Altera website.

Altera's EP2C5F256C8N FPGA offers 4,608 embedded FPGA logic elements (LEs) and 26 embedded logic RAM elements for the implementation of LSI and entry-level VLSI (very large scale integration) designs with up to 80,000 gates and 119Kb of RAM. The FTDI FT2232H IC offers USB-to-UART and USB-to-high-speed FIFO options for general-purpose communications with PC application software. The FT2232H also features a Multi Protocol Synchronous Serial Engine (MPSSE); a configurable serial controller that allows designers to implement JTAG, SPI, I2C or other application-specific serial interfaces.

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