From a technology perspective, the differences between MAX 7000A and 7000AE are:
- EPM7128A and EPM7256A devices (MAX 7000A) are on a triple layer .35 micron process and were a conversion of 5.0V MAX 7000S devices (EPM7128S and EPM7256S) to 3.3V.
- EPM7128AE and 7256AE devices (MAX 7000AE) are on a quad layer 0.30, or 0.35, micron process and were a new design. The smaller die along with design improvements in PIA loading result in slight improvements in internal timing parameters when compared to the EPM7128A and EPM7256A.
As result of these process and design differences, you should expect only a marginal improvement in timing if you compare EPM7128AE / EPM7256AE vs. EPM7128A / EPM7256A devices in the same speed grade. This is reflected in timing parameters that are shown for both sets of devices in the MAX 7000A datasheet. MAX 7000AE is, therefore, timing compatible with MAX 7000A. MAX 7000AE devices also have slightly stronger drive strength compared to MAX 7000A as shown in the output drive characteristics in the MAX 7000A datasheet.
For general feature set, the features new to 7000AE that were not in 7000A are:
- Improved ISP algorithm implementation in hardware (faster programming)
- ISP_DONE bit
- 1532 compliant hardware
- Programmable register value at power-up
- Programmable GND pins (that don't consume a macrocell as in previous architecture)
- Hot-socketing - 7000AE I/Os do not drive out during power-up (tri-state) while 7000A I/Os will drive out during power-up. Therefore, 7000A I/Os cannot be driven before or during power-up.
For programming compatibility and migration see http://www.altera.com/support/kdb/2001/06/rd06052001_9842.html