Altera Corporation was a leading American manufacturer of programmable logic devices (PLDs), reconfigurable complex digital circuits, from 1984 through 2015.Altera released its first PLD in 1984.
Altera and intel announced on June 1, 2015 that they had agreed that Intel would acquire Altera in an all-cash transaction valued at approximately $16.7 billion. As of December 28, 2015, the acquisition had been completed.
The main product lines from Altera (now Intel) are the Stratix, Arria and Cyclone series FPGAs, the MAX series CPLDs and non-volatile FPGAs, Quartus design software, and Enpirion PowerSoC DC-DC power solutions.
The Stratix series FPGAs are the company's largest, highest bandwidth devices, with up to 1.1 million logic elements, integrated transceivers at up to 28 Gbit/s, up to 1.6 Tbit/s of serial switching capability, up to 1,840 GMACs of signal-processing performance, and up to 7 x72 DDR3 memory interfaces at 800 MHz. Cyclone series FPGAs and SoC FPGAs are the company's lowest cost, lowest power FPGAs, with variants offering integrated transceivers up to 5 Gbit/s. In between these two device families are Arria series FPGAs, which provide a balance of performance, power, and cost for mid-range applications such as remote radio heads, video conferencing equipment, and wireline access equipment. Arria FPGAs have integrated transceivers up to 10 Gbit/s.
Since December 2012, the company has been shipping SoC FPGA devices. According to Altera, fully depleted silicon on insulator (FDSOI) chip manufacturing process is beneficial for FPGAs. These devices integrate FPGAs with full hard processor systems based around ARM processors onto a single device.
In May 2013, Altera acquired embedded power chipmaker Enpirion for $134m in cash ($141m including the assumption of debt). Since that time, Enpirion has been incorporated into Altera by becoming its own product offering within the Altera portfolio of products. The Enpirion products are power system-on-a-chip DC-DC converters that enable greater power densities and lower noise performance compared with their discrete equivalent. Unlike converters made from discrete components Enpirion dc-dc converters are simulated, characterized, validated and production qualified at delivery.
Previously Altera offered a publicly available ASIC design flow based on HardCopy ASICs, which transitioned an FPGA design, once finalized, to a form which is not alterable. This design flow reduced design security risks as well as costs for higher volume production. Design engineers could prototype their designs in Stratix series FPGAs, and then migrate these designs to HardCopy ASICs when they were ready for volume production.
The unique design flow makes hardware/software co-design and co-verification possible. The flow has been benchmarked to deliver systems to market 9 to 12 months faster, on average, than with standard-cell solutions. Design engineers can employ a single RTL, set of intellectual property (IP) cores, and Quartus II design software for both FPGA and ASIC implementations. Altera's HardCopy Design Center manages test insertion.
Altera and its partners offer an array of intellectual property (IP) cores that serve as building blocks that design engineers can drop into their system designs to perform specific functions. IP cores eliminate some of the time-consuming tasks of creating every block in a design from scratch.
Altera offers an embedded portfolio with a broad selection of soft processor cores:
Nios II embedded processor
Freescale ColdFire v1 core (free for Cyclone III FPGA).
ARM Cortex-M1 processor
And one hard IP processor core:
ARM Cortex-A9 processor
Main article: Altera Quartus
All of Altera's devices are supported by a common design environment, Quartus II design software. Quartus II software is available in a subscription-based edition and a free Web-based edition. It includes a number of tools to foster productivity.