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EBV Elektronik Launches the 'SoCrates' Board for Altera's NewSoC Families
The convergence of FPGAs and Microcontrollers offers many design opportunities and advantages. However the complexity of integration can make it difficult for engineers to adopt, particularly those who are new to FPGA. EBV has found a solution to address this challenge by simplifying the process and ultimately opening it up to a wider engineering base.
Altera® SoC's incorporate ARM® technology, bringing very powerful solutions for applications that need very fast data processing. Besides the typical FPGA solutions, theSoC is proving of great interest for applications that use FPGAs and microcontrollers on two separate chips. However, the integration of such a device is no simple task, and EBV, a specialist distributor of semiconductors, offers plenty of support for customers to facilitate the integration of these new devices.
Harald Friedrich, Vertical Segment Director EMEA for FPGAs at EBV, explains what EBV offers: "The first thing is our own evaluation board based on this SoC family. Named SoCrates, the circular board is only 10 centimetres in diameter and was designed to provide our customers with easy access to this new technology."
EBV has designed a board with the specific need of customers in mind. "We really want to show them how easy it is to produce such a design", Friedrich explains, "We have experienced the same in the past: when customers try a design with a complex development board, there are many features not needed in their design. They find it difficult to rebuild the project, and often end up with more complex layouts and more expensive components than they really need". With the EBV board, they found it much easier and quicker and ultimately lower cost."
Naturally, EBV wants to stick to this approach for the new family of devices as well but there is something else that will make our board even more appealing - a favourable price-tag.
The main part of the SoCrates board is the SoC. It also offers drivers for Gigabit Ethernet, USB and CAN and a lot of general-purpose I/Os, plus a TFT interface and a camera input. You can run a Linux operating system on this board and build an embedded controller for graphical user interfaces. Another application is to encode the pictures from the camera input and build a video-over-IP reference design on it.
While EBV of course supports Altera's design flow, it provides some software solutions as well. As the Linux OS demands a driver for every component, EBV will offer its own board support package for all the hardware components on the SoCrates board. Beyond that, the distributor can rely on a solid network of software partners that can offer continuous support. As a result of its extensive experience in distribution, EBV has developed a lot of experience with these software partners who it will integrate with for the AlteraSoCs as well.
EBV is going to show SoCrates in a series of hands-on workshops throughout Europe to simply explain the hardware and software design flow of this complex product family. And that it can be used not only as a combination of FPGA and controller, but also as a controller with a very flexible set of peripherals that offers plenty of opportunities.
It is clear that Altera's SoC and EBV's SoCrates will be of interest for a lot of customers because they can be used in almost every market and application. Of course they are interested in solutions that already use a combination of microcontroller and FPGA but they can also be useful for applications that have only used microcontrollers so far, because the FPGA-SoCs offer a flexible set of peripherals. If customers have a range of applications, they do not have to use a different controller, but have the ability to use the same FPGA with a different set of IP. That will reduce the follow-up costs and considerably facilitate the maintenance process.
Solar inverters, power inverters, drive technology, industrial control, field-bus communication - there are many applications that easily come to mind for use of the FPGA-SoCs. There are also applications for home automation, automotive driver assistance and medical devices like endoscopy and these are just a few examples to show the wide range of possibilities of the new product family.
Further information about the Socrates board and the hands-on-trainings are available at www.ebv.com/socrates
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