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Altium has introduced another daughter board for its desktop Nanoboard reconfigurable hardware development platform.

The plug-in daughter board features Altera’s low-cost Cyclone III EP3C40 FPGA in a 780 BGA package.

It is said to include a range of onboard memories for application use and a one-wire memory device used to store board identification and related information.

The desktop Nanoboard lets electronics designers use the flexibility and inherent ability to re-programme FPGAs to create new designs quickly and then compare design performance across a range of different FPGA devices supported by Altium.

The Altera Cyclone III FPGA plug-in daughter board is claimed to offer more opportunities for electronics engineers to experiment with different programmable devices, particularly in mainstream electronics design.

Designers do not need to commit to their final device too early in the design cycle.

For example, they have the option of creating their design using one FPGA and choosing another device for their final product.

Designers can also observe the performance of an actual design running on the Nanoboard and compare it with other devices simply by swapping daughter boards and rebooting in seconds.

When the desktop Nanoboard is combined with Altium’s unified electronics design solution, Altium Designer, designers have a station that is intended to allow them to create prototypes in a matter of days rather than weeks, optimise product performance and overall cost of their designs and create a sustainable competitive advantage embedded within the design.

One engineer who has seen the benefits of this approach is Kylee Sealey, a consultant engineer whose company, Enginuitive Technologies, designs electronic systems for products as varied as GPS systems and quilting machines.

Sealey said: ‘Before using the innovation station, my typical design process included a preliminary hardware design, then a software design to begin prototyping.

‘This often led to a hardware redesign.

‘Now, I can literally have complex prototypes running on the desktop Nanoboard within hours or even minutes.

‘This is because the soft design precedes the hard design, which eliminates the need for a hardware redesign,’ he added.

Altium Designer’s unified design environment also lets designers lay out custom PCBs once the design is final.

It manages all the design documentation required to take the design through the complete design process, including: early concept development; multiple prototypes’ creation on the desktop Nanoboard; custom 3D PCB design, including dynamic clearance checking between the PCB and its casing; and final output files for manufacturing.

Designers access a single design data model and they can see the changes in the design as they happen.

They can also update versions and associated documentation with a single command.

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