Altera Corporation
Company typeSubsidiary
IndustryIntegrated circuits
FoundedJune 1983; 40 years ago (June 1983)
HeadquartersSan Jose, California, United States
Key people
Sandra L. Rivera (CEO)
Shannon J. Poulin (COO)
ProductsFPGAs
CPLDs
Embedded systems
ASICs
RevenueIncrease $1.932 billion (2014)
Increase $472 million (2014)
Total assetsDecrease $5.674 billion (2014)
Total equityDecrease $3.285 billion (2014)
Number of employees
3,091 (2014)
ParentIntel
Websitealtera.com
Footnotes / references
[1]

Altera Corporation is a manufacturer of programmable logic devices (PLDs) headquartered in San Jose, California. It was founded in 1983 and acquired by Intel in 2015 before becoming independent once again in 2024 as a company focused on development of Field-Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) technology and system on a chip FPGAs.

The company was founded in 1983 by semiconductor veterans Rodney Smith, Robert Hartmann, James Sansbury, and Paul Newhagen with $500,000 in seed money. The name of the company was a play on "alterable", the type of chips the company created. In 1988, Altera became a public company via an initial public offering (IPO).[2]

On December 28, 2015, the company was acquired by Intel and became a newly formed business unit called Programmable Solutions Group (PSG).[3] In October 2023, Intel announced it would be spinning off PSG into a separate company at the start of 2024, while maintaining majority ownership and intending to seek an IPO within three years.[4][5] In February 2024, Intel announced that the newly independent company would reestablish the Altera name and branding.[6]

Products

FPGAs

Cyclone III FPGA
FPGA Developer-board with Altera Cyclone V SE FPGA
Die shot of an Altera Max II FPGA.

The main product lines from Altera are the Agilex FPGA product lines, and their predecessors: the high-end Stratix series, mid-range Arria series,[7] and lower-cost Cyclone series; as well as the MAX series non-volatile FPGAs.

Semiconductor intellectual property cores

Altera and its partners offer an array of semiconductor intellectual property cores that serve as building blocks that design engineers can drop into their system designs to perform specific functions. IP cores eliminate some of the time-consuming tasks of creating every block in a design from scratch. In 2000, Altera acquired Designpro and Northwest Logic, providers of IP cores, in order to expand its design capabilities and move towards delivery of complete system-on-chip solutions.[8][9]

System on a chip FPGAs

Beginning in December 2012, the company announced the shipment of its first system on a chip FPGA devices using a fully depleted silicon on insulator (FDSOI) 28nm chip manufacturing process. These are the Cyclone V SoC devices, which have a dual-core ARM architecture Cortex-A9 processor system with FPGA logic on a single chip.[10] These devices integrated FPGAs with full hard processor systems based around ARM architecture onto a single device.[11][12] As of 2024, the majority of Altera's FPGA devices are available as an SoC variant with an ARM hard processor system integrated with the FPGA as a single system on a chip.

These SoCs are targeted for use in wireless communications, industrial, video surveillance, automotive and medical equipment markets. With these SoCs devices, users were able to create custom field-programmable SoC variants for power, board space, performance and cost optimization.[13]

Cyclone V SoC, Arria V SoC and Arria 10 SoC product families are system on a chip FPGAs based upon a hard ARM Cortex-A9 dual-core processor system.

Stratix 10 SoC and Agilex 7 SoC product families are system on a chip FPGAs based upon a hard ARM Cortex-A53 quad-core processor system.

The Agilex 5 SoC product family are system on a chip FPGAs based upon a hard ARM Cortex-A76/A55 quad-core processor system.

Soft Processor cores

Altera offers the Nios V embedded soft processor cores based on the RISC-V instruction set architecture. Previously Altera had offered their own proprietary Nios II embedded soft processor, the Freescale ColdFire v1 core, and the ARM Cortex-M1 processor.

Design software

Main article: Intel Quartus Prime

All of Altera's devices are supported by a common design environment, the Quartus Prime design software, which is a multi-platform development environment that includes various tools needed to design FPGAs, SoC FPGAs, and CPLDs.[14][15]

In May 2013, Altera made available SDK for OpenCL, enabling software programmers to access the high-performance capabilities of programmable logic devices.[16]

Altera also support high-level synthesis using SYCL extensions to ANSI C/C++.

Intel Partnership, Acquisition and Ownership

In 1984, the company formed a long-running design partnership with Intel. In 1994, Altera acquired the PLD business of Intel for $50 million.[17]

Intel 14-nm technology

In February 2013, Altera announced an agreement to use Intel's foundry services to produce its 14-nm node for the future manufacturing of its FPGAs, based on Intel's 14-nm tri-gate transistor technology, in place of Altera's ongoing agreement with TSMC.[18] The Stratix 10 product family was the first such product line.[19]

Acquisition and Ownership by Intel

In December 2015, Intel acquired Altera for $16.7 billion in cash.[20][21] Altera became Intel's newly formed business unit called the Programmable Solutions Group (PSG).[3]

In October 2023, Intel announced it would be spinning off PSG into a separate company at the start of 2024, while maintaining majority ownership and intending to seek an IPO within three years.[4][5] In February 2024, Intel announced that the newly independent company would reestablish the Altera name and branding.[6]

Restatement of financial results

On June 21, 2006, after an investigation by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the company restated its financial results from 1996 to 2005 to correct accounting errors related to options backdating. The chief financial officer of the company resigned.[22][23][24] Altera filed a petition to overturn related regulations but was, under Intel, denied in 2020.[25]

See also

References

  1. ^ "Altera Corporation 2014 Form 10-K Annual Report". U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
  2. ^ "The Road to Innovation Drive" (PDF). Altera News & Views. 2003 (Q2): 5–10. June 2003.
  3. ^ a b Darrow, Barb (December 28, 2015). "Altera Gives Intel a Hot Hand in Programmable Chips". Fortune. Retrieved 2023-08-24.
  4. ^ a b King, Ian (October 3, 2023). "Intel to Make Former Altera Into Standalone Business, Seek IPO". Bloomberg News.
  5. ^ a b Leswing, Kif (October 3, 2023). "Intel plans to IPO programmable chip unit within three years; stock rises after hours". CNBC.
  6. ^ a b "Intel Launches Altera, Its New Standalone FPGA Company". Intel. Retrieved 2024-02-29.
  7. ^ "Arria 10 Device Overview" (PDF). Intel. September 4, 2013.
  8. ^ "Altera Buys System Design Firm". EE Times. September 12, 2000.
  9. ^ "Altera Acquires Designpro". EE Times. May 2, 2000.
  10. ^ McConnel, Toni (December 12, 2012). "Altera ships its first Cyclone V SoC devices". Embedded.
  11. ^ Maxfield, Clive (December 12, 2012). "Altera's shipping its first SoC FPGAs". EE Times.
  12. ^ Clarke, Peter (December 15, 2012). "Altera eyes FDSOI process for FPGAs". EE Times.
  13. ^ "Altera and ARM Announce Industry's First FPGA-Adaptive Embedded Software Toolkit" (Press release). Arm Holdings. December 12, 2012.
  14. ^ Maxfield, Clive (May 9, 2011). "Altera's Quartus Prime design software features Qsys System Integration Tool". EETimes.
  15. ^ Maxfield, Clive (November 7, 2011). "Latest and greatest Quartus II design software from Altera". EETimes.
  16. ^ Maxfield, Clive (May 6, 2013). "Altera opens the FPGA world to software programmers". EE Times.
  17. ^ "MERCHANT IC VENDORS" (PDF). Smithsonian Institution.
  18. ^ "Altera to Build Next-Generation, High-Performance FPGAs on Intel's 14 nm Tri-Gate Technology" (Press release). Intel. February 25, 2013.
  19. ^ Hruska, Joel (October 10, 2016). "Intel launches Stratix 10: Altera FPGA combined with ARM CPU, 14nm manufacturing". ExtremeTech.
  20. ^ Clark, Don (December 28, 2015). "Intel Completes Acquisition of Altera". The Wall Street Journal.
  21. ^ Burt, Jeffrey (December 28, 2015). "Intel Completes $16.7 Billion Altera Deal". eWeek.
  22. ^ "Altera Announces Expected Restatement Related to Stock-Based Compensation" (Press release). Business Wire. June 21, 2006.
  23. ^ McGrath, Dylan (June 21, 2006). "Altera to restate 10 years of earnings". EE Times.
  24. ^ Taub, Stephen (June 22, 2006). "Altera to Restate 10 Years of Financials". CFO.
  25. ^ "US Supreme Court declines to hear Altera case". Ernst & Young. June 22, 2020.