Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The NIOS-II goes ASIC - Processors migrate

With Altera and Synopsys recently joining forces to offer the NIOS-II processor core for use in ASIC's, and the attendant media focus, it is worth looking around at what others have been doing as well.

ARM has a number of chip makers using the ARM-7 and ARM-9 cores in a variety of products, as well as it being available in FPGA's. MIPS has its cores in MCU's form Microchip now, as well as in ASICs.

So when are we going to see a NIOS-II based MCU? We can already put a NIOS-II and a handful of useful peripheral cores into a $15 FPGA (with some external memory) so surely Altera and a chip-maker can come up with a nice low cost package that would enable us to take basically the same processor core from a $6 MCU to a variety of FPGA's and finally into ASICs.

Wouldn't that be nice!