Lattice reinvents the low power, general-purpose FPGA with new Certus-NX

24 June 2020

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The second product released on Lattice's Nexus FPGA platform in just six months enables industry-leading I/O count in small form factor packages. Meanwhile, the latest version of its easy-to-use, best-in-class FPGA design software tool, Radiant also supports SystemVerilog & accelerates system development for new Certus-NX FPGA-based designs.

Lattice Semiconductor, a specialist in low power, programmable logic, has launched its new Lattice Certus™-NX family of FPGAs. The devices lead the general-purpose FPGA market in I/O density, delivering up to twice the I/O density per mm2 in comparison to similar competing FPGAs, and provide best-in-class power savings, small size, reliability and instant-on performance. They also support fast PCI Express (PCIe) and Gigabit Ethernet interfaces to enable data co-processing, signal bridging and system control. Certus-NX FPGAs target a range of applications, from data processing in automated industrial equipment to system management in communications infrastructure.

The Certus-NX devices are the second family of FPGAs developed on the Lattice Nexus™ platform, the industry’s first low power FPGA platform using 28 nm FD-SOI process technology. With the launch of Certus-NX, Lattice marks the release of the second device family developed under Lattice’s new product development strategy in just six months.

Certus-NX delivers unique and innovative capabilities that set it apart,” said Linley Gwennap, Principal Analyst at The Linley Group. “Compared to competing FPGAs of similar gate counts, Lattice offers a much smaller package, greater I/O density and lower power.

Thanks to innovations at the system, architecture and circuit level in our Lattice Nexus development platform, we are releasing new products at a faster pace and giving our customers more options to choose from as they evaluate the performance and power needs of their applications,” said Gordon Hands, Director of Product Marketing, Lattice Semiconductor. “Certus-NX has clearly reset expectations for what developers should look for in general-purpose FPGAs by providing a compelling blend of parallel processing performance and flexible I/O support that enables creative new device designs.

Technology trends like industrial automation and 5G have developers across markets looking to add processing and connectivity to applications that operate at the network Edge. To successfully support these trends, devices require low power processing hardware with support for popular interfaces like PCIe and Gigabit Ethernet. Device developers also need easy-to-use development platforms from a single source that provide the hardware, software and IP they need to get products to market quickly.

As an FPGA-centric design house, we’re seeing increasing adoption of serial protocols like PCIe and Gigabit Ethernet for chip-to-chip connectivity in many end applications, including 5G and IoT systems,” said Sanjeev Kumar, CEO, Logic Fruit Technologies. “The latest generation of FPGAs by Lattice, Certus-NX, supports these standards and provides a high density of I/Os, while keeping power consumption and overall device footprint in check. These FPGAs will allow us to rapidly adapt to the challenging and evolving connectivity and performance needs of our customers.

Key features of the Lattice Certus-NX FPGA family include:

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•    Up to 3x smaller form factor – Certus-NX FPGAs easily fit into compact designs with minimal impact on overall design footprint. For example, Certus-NX FPGAs can enable a complete PCIe solution with a size of only 36 mm2. Even when using the smallest package available in the family, Certus-NX FPGAs deliver up to twice the I/O density per mm2 in comparison to similar competing FPGAs to enable greater design flexibility and robust support for bridging applications.

•    Robust I/O interfacing capability – Certus-NX developers will have access to Lattice’s extensive IP library. Notable IP blocks available on Certus-NX include:

      o    1.5 Gbps differential I/O with performance that is up to 70% higher than competing FPGAs.

      o    5 Gbps PCIe, 1.5 Gbps SGMII, and 1066 Mbps DDR3. Developers can test these IP blocks on Certus-NX development boards for the fast implementation of interfaces commonly used in Certus-NX FPGAs’ target applications.

•    Strong authentication and encryption – to secure the devices’ bitstream against unauthorised access/alteration/copying, Certus-NX FPGAs support AES-256 encryption with best-in-class ECDSA authentication to protect devices throughout their lifecycles.

•    Up to 4x lower power consumption – Certus-NX FPGAs use a programmable back bias to enable user-selectable high performance or low power operating modes, depending on the needs of their application. The devices can provide power consumption up to 4x lower than similar FPGAs.

•    Instant-on performance – the devices also offer ultra-fast device configuration from SPI memory that is up to 12x faster than similar competing FPGAs, with individual I/Os able to configure in just 3 ms, and full-device startup in only 8-14 ms depending on device capacity.

•    High reliability – reliable performance is key for safety-critical industrial and automotive applications where devices must perform as expected to avoid damage/injury. Certus-NX FPGAs offer up to 100 times better soft-error rate (SER) performance than similar FPGAs. Certus-NX FPGAs are temperature-rated for use in industrial applications. They also support ECC and SEC in hardware.

•    Ease-of-use/design – Certus-NX FPGAs support Lattice Radiant® software, an easy-to-use, unified FPGA design environment that integrates best-in-class tools and features to help users develop their applications quickly and efficiently.

Lattice has already shipped sample devices to select customers. For more information, please visit: www.latticesemi.com/Certus-NX

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Lattice has also announced availability of the latest version of its popular software design tool for FPGAs, Lattice Radiant™ 2.1. The version includes support for the company’s new general-purpose Lattice Certus™-NX FPGAs, plus native support for the SystemVerilog hardware description and verification language to increase functionality and design flexibility. Lattice Radiant design software accelerates development of Lattice FPGA-based applications for a range of markets, including industrial/automotive, communications/compute, and consumer.

The new version of Radiant supports SystemVerilog throughout the entire design flow, from the native synthesis tool through the schematic viewer, hierarchical viewer, configuration wizards and debugging tool. This highly productive coding method simplifies on-chip debugging and other tasks to streamline the design process and get Lattice FPGA-based products to market faster. Lattice has made Radiant even easier to use, as the tool’s drag-and-drop GUI has been redesigned with support for an I/O planner that enforces correct pin placement for each I/O signal or bus.

In comparison to design software offered by other FPGA vendors, Lattice Radiant provides best-in-class file size and download times. Radiant software is 20x smaller in file size and 10x faster to install than the competition, so customers can quickly download the tool and start designing their Lattice FPGA-based applications.

Many FPGA designers are moving to design solutions that leverage SystemVerilog, as it gives them more coding efficiency and granular control over their application at every step in the design flow,” said Roger Do, Senior Product Line Manager, Lattice Semiconductor. “When used to develop embedded systems based on our latest low power, small form factor FPGA architecture, the Lattice Radiant design tool enables developers to quickly add low power processing and connectivity to applications that operate within the network.

In addition to the Certus-NX family, Lattice Radiant also supports the CrossLink™-NX FPGAs for embedded and smart visions applications, as well as the ultra-low power, small form factor Lattice iCE40 UltraPlus™ FPGAs.

For more information about the Lattice Certus-NX FPGA family, please visit: www.latticesemi.com/CertusNX

For more information about Lattice Radiant design software, please visit: www.latticesemi.com/LatticeRadiant


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