Remote System Upgrades with Stratix Series FPGAs

Altera's Stratix® series FPGAs allow the flexibility of real-time remote system upgrades (see Figure 1). System upgrades can be remotely transmitted, allowing you to maintain product differentiation and keep your products ahead of your competition. The built-in recovery circuitry and design security of Stratix series FPGAs assure you of reliable and secure remote upgrades.

Extended Marketplace Advantage

As a result of increasing competition, changing standards, and shrinking market windows, you must strive to not only create products that are the best in market today, but to keep them that way for as long as possible. Using FPGAs significantly enhances design flexibility and reduces time to market. When you design a system with the added benefit of remote upgrades, you can extend its life cycle and, ultimately, increase revenue generation. Stratix series FPGAs provide these advantages, as shown in Figure 2.

A system that's developed with a Stratix series FPGA and utilizes the remote system upgrade capability can:

  • Reduce time to market by deploying a subset of the system early, followed by remote upgrade.
  • Address changing protocols, standards, and new applications quickly.
  • Provide rapid deployment of bug fixes and product enhancements.
  • Lower overall cost by eliminating a half-generation hardware upgrade.

Remote System Upgrade in Three Simple Steps

In the example shown in Figure 3, remote system upgrades are enabled in three simple steps using a Stratix series FPGA and flash memory:

  • An upgrade is sent from the development location through a network to the Stratix series FPGA.
  • The controller within the Stratix series FPGA stores the upgrade in the external memory.
  • The serial memory device or a MAX® II Parallel Flash Loader and a parallel Flash upgrades the Stratix series FPGA with the new data.

Stratix series FPGAs feature a dedicated recovery circuitry. This circuitry guarantees “always operational” functionality by ensuring that whenever an error occurs, whether during data transmission or device configuration, the Stratix series FPGA always returns to a known state to operate correctly.

Information about the error is available to the controller to take further actions. The built-in design security feature of Stratix series FPGAs allows the upgrade data to be encrypted and transmitted securely over the network.

With remote system upgrades, Stratix series FPGAs take systems to the forefront of technology faster and keep them ahead of the competition longer. Stratix series FPGAs provide significant time-to-market benefits for the fastest possible system design and deployment, all with the ease and assurance of performing upgrades at a later time. New features and support for evolving protocols can be easily added, while system performance can increase over time with design optimization.