Altera Releases FPGA Industry's First Virtual Target for Software Development on SoC FPGAs

Runs Linux and VxWorks, Enables Immediate Start for Device-Specific Software Development Targeting Altera's SoC FPGAs

SAN JOSE, Calif., Oct. 11, 2011 — (PRNewswire) — Altera Corporation (Nasdaq: ALTR) today announced availability of the FPGA industry's first virtual target designed to enable immediate device-specific embedded software development targeting Altera's newly announced SoC FPGA devices. Based on proven virtual prototyping solutions from Synopsys, Inc., the SoC FPGA Virtual Target is a PC-based functional simulation of an Altera SoC FPGA development board. The Virtual Target is a binary- and register-compatible, functional equivalent of an SoC FPGA board, ensuring that software developed on the Virtual Target can be moved to the actual board with minimal effort.  Linux- and VxWorks-enabled and supported by leading ARM ecosystem development tools, the Virtual Target lets embedded software engineers develop their application using familiar tools, maximize legacy code reuse, and gain further productivity from the unparalleled level of target control and target visibility that are critical for complex multicore processor systems development.


"Developing application software for embedded projects typically requires the most time and engineering resources," said Vince Hu, vice president, product and corporate marketing, Altera Corporation. "With our SoC FPGA Virtual Target, we enable engineers to jump-start their software development so they can maximize their productivity and get to market quickly."

Delivered as a prebuilt, ready-to-use, binary- and register-compatible PC-based simulation model, the SoC FPGA Virtual Target features the same dual-core ARM® Cortex™-A9 MPCore™ processor and system peripherals found in Altera's Cyclone® V and Arria® V SoC FPGAs, along with board-level components, including DDR SDRAM, flash memory, and virtual I/Os. To enable application software development targeting both the hardened processor system and customer-designed FPGA-based IP, Altera will provide an optional FPGA-in-the-loop extension to the Virtual Target. This extension uses an Altera FPGA development board connected to the PC-based Virtual Target over a PCIe® interface. The Virtual Target and the FPGA-in-the-loop extension together let users add custom peripherals and hardware accelerators to the processor subsystem, create device drivers for them, and integrate with application software prior to final hardware availability. This allows the device-specific firmware and application software to move to the actual hardware with minimal effort.    

"Many semiconductor and systems companies have successfully used virtual prototypes to accelerate software development before and after silicon availability," said John Koeter, vice president of IP and systems marketing, Synopsys, Inc. "Our collaboration with Altera makes proven virtual prototyping technology available in an off-the-shelf, ready-to-use virtual target, delivering an environment to system and software engineers with unrivaled debug capability that is easily deployed to Altera's global customer base."    

The Virtual Target comes with initial support for Linux and VxWorks. Embedded software developers can boot Linux on the Virtual Target right out-of-the-box using a prebuilt Linux kernel image with device driver support for all the major components of the SoC FPGA development board. Free downloads of a prebuilt GNU tool chain and Linux source also are available from Altera. A VxWorks board support package (BSP) will be available this quarter for the Virtual Target, with more BSPs to come for other embedded operating systems.

The Virtual Target offers ecosystem tools compatibility and additional debugging capabilities unique to a simulation environment. Supported development tools for the Virtual Target include the GNU tools, ARM RVDS™, the ARM Development Studio 5 (DS-5™), the Lauterbach TRACE32® debugger and the Wind River Workbench.  As a simulation model, the Virtual Target offers more visibility into the system under debug, allows users greater control of the target execution (especially in a multicore system), and performs many debugging tasks that are hard or impossible on hardware.  

"There is increasing demand for virtual platforms to accelerate software development, particularly for complex designs based on the ARM Cortex-A9 MPcore processor," said Mark Onions, marketing director, system design, ARM. "Altera's SoC FPGA virtual target, used together with ARM's RVDS and DS-5 software development tools, enables developers to get a head start and complete their multi-core system designs more quickly."

Stephan Lauterbach, president at Lauterbach GmbH added, "We see more and more users take advantage of virtual prototyping techniques to get ahead in their development. The combination of TRACE32 and the native visibility and control of the Virtual Target brings multicore debugging to a whole new level, allowing users to leverage their investments made in tools and knowledge in every phase of their development process."

"Building on the success of our recent collaborations with Altera on VxWorks and Linux for Altera's soft core processors, Altera's new SoC FPGA devices expand the opportunities for embedded developers," said Warren Kurisu, vice president of product management at Wind River. "Combined with Wind River's extensive product portfolio, including leading embedded software operating systems and world-class development tools, these efforts will help embedded developers innovate to address diverse needs across the embedded spectrum."


The SoC FPGA Virtual Target can be ordered today from Altera. FPGA-in-the-loop extension is planned for early next year. Additional information about the SoC FPGA Virtual Target can be found at For demonstrations, evaluations and purchasing, contact your local Altera sales representative.

About Altera

Altera programmable solutions enable system and semiconductor companies to rapidly and cost-effectively innovate, differentiate and win in their markets. Find out more about Altera's FPGA, CPLD and ASIC devices at Follow Altera via Facebook, RSS and Twitter.

ALTERA, ARRIA, CYCLONE, HARDCOPY, MAX, MEGACORE, NIOS, QUARTUS and STRATIX words and logos are trademarks of Altera Corporation and registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and in other countries. All other words and logos identified as trademarks or service marks are the property of their respective holders as described at

Editor Contact:
Steve Gabriel
Altera Corporation
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(408) 544-6846

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