Avionics core

Actel Corporation has revealed details of its new intellectual property (IP) core designed to reduce development time and improve the performance of aircraft communications systems.

The new Actel Core429 is a bus interface core that implements the ARINC (Aeronautical Radio, Inc.) 429 communications standard and is optimised for use with Actel’s nonvolatile FPGAs, including its ProASIC Plus and Axcelerator devices.

The company says that the Core429 offers several unique features including full channel configurability as well as programmable FIFO depth and interrupt capability. Additionally, it claims that when combined with Actel’s nonvolatile FPGAs, Core429 is the world’s only firm-error immune, programmable ARINC 429 solution.

“Core429 enables a fully compliant ARINC receiver and transmitter in an industrial-temperature, reprogrammable, nonvolatile FPGA for less than $20. For legacy applications, it has the option to be code compatible with existing ARINC 429 ASSPs and can interface to standard ARINC line drivers and receivers, making it suitable for new or replacement applications,” said Yankin Tanurhan, senior director of applications and IP solutions at Actel.

Unlike existing processor-based ARINC 429 devices that have a fixed number of transmit and receive channels, Actel’s Core429 enables a configurable number of channels (from 1 to 16 transmit and receive), that can all use on-chip memory, which can lead to significant cost reduction. Customers gain further flexibility with an integrated FIFO that is programmable up to a depth of 512 ARINC 429 words.

The programmable depth and interrupt capability of the FIFO improves system performance by reducing the workload on the host processor. In addition, because of its state-machine design that is optimised for ARINC 429 applications, Core429 uses less power and is easier to program compared to processor-based products.

To help simplify design integration and verification of Core429 systems, Actel offers a development kit that demonstrates the operation of four ARINC 429 channels. The Core429-DEV-KIT includes a reprogrammable Actel ProASIC Plus FPGA as well as a daughter card with standard line drivers and receivers to interface with the 429 bus.

The development system is programmed with one Core429 configured with four transmit and four receive channels as well as Actel’s Core8051 as a host processor. The development kit is also pre-fitted with connections for Ethernet, RS-232, USB and IrDA communications.

Actel’s Core429 is available in evaluation, netlist and RTL versions. The evaluation version, a ModelSim compiled simulation model, is available for free.

The netlist version simplifies system integration while the RTL version allows full user customisation. Pricing starts at $5,000.

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