Tag Archives: FPGA

NanoEVB & PicoEVB – Xilinx Artix Developemtn kits

The Xilinx Artix dev kits that fit in your laptop. A convenient, affordable way to explore Xilinx PCIe IP. The project is already funded on crowdsupply.com

PicoEVB is an affordable, open source, development board which can be used to evaluate and prototype PCI Express designs using a Xilinx Artix 7 FPGA on Windows or Linux hosts. The boards are designed around the Artix 7 (XC7A50T).

NanoEVB & PicoEVB – Xilinx Artix Developemtn kits – [Link]

PulseRain M10 – FPGA Development board is Arduino compatible

Over the years FPGAs have become readily available to the maker community. They are now more accessible than ever as many development boards has seen the light. It’s now possible to embed a soft-core MCU into an FPGA  rather than using a hard-core ASIC MCU and here is where PulseRain comes into play with an open source design down to the silicon level.

The PulseRain M10 board embeds an open source soft MCU core (96 MHz) in an Intel/Altera MAX10 FPGA, while is Arduino compatible. In addition, the soft-core MCU features onboard resources like voice CODEC, microSD socket, SRAM, on-chip ADC, and dual IO voltages. The board will soon be available for funding on crowdsupply.com.

Features & Specifications

  • FPGA: Intel/Altera 10M08SAE144C8G
    • Logic Elements: 8 K
    • Block Memory: 378 Kb
    • User Flash Memory: 32 KB
    • 18 x 18 Multipliers: 24
    • Internal Configuration: 2 (This FPGA does not need external memory for configuration)
    • PLLs: 1
    • On-chip A/D Converter: 12 bit
    • Temperature Sensor: On-chip TSD (Temperature Sensor Diode)
    • Package: 144-pin EQFP
  • Microcontroller: Soft-core FP51-1T, with support package for Arduino IDE
    • Clock Rate: 96 MHz
    • Processor Core: Enhanced 1T 8051, with RISC implementation
    • Throughput: Single clock cycle execution for most instructions
    • Instruction Memory: 32 KB
    • Data Memory: 8 KB
    • On-chip Debugger: Yes (supports code download throughput of 921600 bps)
    • Open Source Compiler: SDCC (Small Device C Compiler)
  • Onboard Peripherals and Components:
    • Voice CODEC: Silicon Lab Si3000, with onboard microphone and speaker jack
    • DTMF Decoder: Available through software library
    • UART/PWM/I2C: The default configuration has 2 UARTs, 6 PWMs and 1 I2C
    • SRAM: 1 Mbit serial SRAM (Microchip 23LC1024)
    • microSD Socket: Molex 472192001
    • OpAmp and Potentiometer for Analog Input: 6 analog input channel, 1 potentiometer on A0
    • USB: USB/UART bridge (FT232R), with 921600 bps throughput
    • JTAG Header: Yes
    • Push Button: 2
    • Oscillator: 12 MHz crystal oscillator, with DIP package
    • LEDs: 6 (2 for USB/UART indication, 1 for IO power, 3 for general purpose)
  • Form Factor and Input/Outputs:
    • Arduino UNO Rev 3 Compatible Dimension: 2.1 inch x 3.2 inch
    • Maximum Height: 0.5 inch
    • IO Pin Map: Compatible with Arduino UNO Rev 3
    • IO Voltage: Dual voltage support (3.3 V / 5 V)
  • Power: 5 V USB or 7-12 VDC jack
  • Host Interface: microUSB

Haasoscope – Cheap, flexible, data acquisition for all!

Haasoscope is the first open-source, open-hardware, flexible, small, cheap, oscilloscope and data-acquisition board. You can use the stock firmware for basic oscilloscope functionality, or modify the firmware to customize what the Haasoscope does.

Preliminary features and specifications:

  • 4 x 100 MHz, 8-bit ADC channels with BNC cable inputs
  • Altera Max10 FPGA with 8k logic elements and 387kb of memory
  • Reprogram firmware over JTAG, or on the fly, with free Quartus II software
  • Readout over serial-to-USB at 1.5 Mb/s, about 20 Hz for 4 channels of 512 samples each
  • USB powered, (or other 5 V input, switchable), ~1.2 Watt
  • 8 x spare digital I/O
  • 9 x additional analog I/O with 1 MHz (1MSPS combined) at 12 bits
  • 7 x programmable LEDs, and a reset button

Haasoscope – Cheap, flexible, data acquisition for all! – [Link]

MaxProLogic: Ultra Low Cost FPGA Development Board

The MaxProLogic is the perfect FPGA project board for the student and hobbyist.

The MaxProLogic is an FPGA development board that is designed to be user friendly and a great introduction into digital design for anyone. The core of the MaxProLogic is the Altera MAX10 FPGA. This powerful chip has 4,000 Logic Elements and 200Kbits of Memory. The MAX10 is easily scalable from the entry level college student to the most advanced projects like an audio sound meter with FFT. Upon the many great features of the MaxProLogic is the MAX10 chip has a built in Flash for configuration and incorporates 8 channels of Analog to Digital Conversion. These two features alone create a far superior FPGA chip than any competitor on the market. It allows the user to create more diverse projects.

MaxProLogic: Ultra Low Cost FPGA Development Board – [Link]

What is Embedded FPGA — Known as eFPGA

Today’s market requirements change faster than the typical development time for a new device or the ability of designers of SoCs to know. To solve this problem, FPGAs/MCUs are used so developers can change the configuration/firmware later.

As known, MCU IP is static and you can’t change the silicon design (RTL design) after fabrication. FPGA chips are used to overcome this limitation but the FPGA high cost is a concern compared to the price of the MCUs. From this point a new technology called Embedded FPGA (eFPGA) was invented. This technology can give the flexibility of allowing SoCs to be customized post-production with no high expenses.

Image courtesy of FlexLogic

The idea behind eFPGA is to embed the FPGA core to SoCs without the other components of typical FPGA chips such as: surrounding ring of GPIO,SERDES, and PHYs. This core can be customized in a post-production stage with no need to change the RTL design and manufacturing the chips again.

Image courtesy of QuickLogic

One of eFPGA use cases is an always-on sensor hub for sensor data acquisition. In this use case, the eFPGA can be used to run sensor hub at a very low power level, while the main CPU is hibernated until relevant data is available. eFPGA has other useful uses such as ,and not limited to: software reconfigurable I/O pin multiplexing and Customize GPIO and Serial Interfaces in software.

Moreover, eFPGA is expected to have a brilliant future and to be adapted widely according to the CEO of Flex Logix Technologies in an article published on Circuit Cellar magazine. That’s because of increasing mask cost: approximately $1 million for 40 nm, $2 million for 28 nm, and $4 million for 16 nm, and the need for constantly changing in standards and protocols besides application of AI and machine learning algorithms.

For more information about eFPGA, please refer to this article: Make SoCs flexible with embedded FPGA.

Spectrum Next, A New of ZX Spectrum

In 1982, the UK’s best selling computer, ZX Spectrum, was released by Sinclair as 8-bit personal home computer highlighting the machine’s color display. And today, a group of makers are introducing the Spectrum Next, an updated and enhanced version of ZX Spectrum.

The Spectrum Next is fully compatible with the original one. It enhanced to provide a wealth of advanced features such as better graphics, SD card storage, and manufacturing quality control. It also comes with a new software to make use of the new hardware, including new graphics modes and faster processor speeds.

As it is implemented with FPGA technology, it can be upgraded and enhanced using special memory chips and a clever design, while remaining compatible with the original hardware. It has a Z80 within, clocked to a blazing-fast 7Mhz, and an optional 1Ghz co-processor.

Technical Specifications:

  • Processor: Z80 3.5Mhz and 7Mhz modes
  • Memory: 512Kb RAM (expandable to 1.5Mb internally and 2.5Mb externally)
  • Video: Hardware sprites, 256 colours mode, Timex 8×1 mode etc.
  • Video Output: RGB, VGA, HDMI
  • Storage: SD Card slot, with DivMMC-compatible protocol
  • Audio: 3x AY-3-8912 audio chips with stereo output + FM sound
  • Joystick: DB9 compatible with Cursor, Kempston and Interface 2 protocols (selectable)
  • PS/2 port: Mouse with Kempston mode emulation and an external keyboard
  • Special: Multiface functionality for memory access, savegames, cheats etc.
  • Tape support: Mic and Ear ports for tape loading and saving
  • Expansion: Original external bus expansion port and accelerator expansion port
  • Accelerator board (optional): GPU / 1Ghz CPU / 512Mb RAM
  • Network (optional): Wi Fi module
  • Extras: Real Time Clock (optional), internal speaker (optional)

Spectrum Next has three graphical modes; “Radastan”, “Layer 2” and Sprites. Radastan is a 128 x 96 with 16 colours per pixel from an enhanced palette. “Layer2” is a Next exclusive mode that supports a “layer screen”, a 256 x 192 with 256 colours per pixel. Sprites are exclusive to the Next too and can be used over the other modes. A “sprite” is a 16×16 image with 256 colours per pixel that can be drawn anywhere on screen, including the border area. Sprites can also be moved incredibly fast over the screen, because the job is done by hardware, not software.

ZX Spectrum Next in action

Next is a “esxDOS ready” that uses the system designed by Miguel Guerreiro, and it’s one of the most powerful OS available at this time, including support for the .TRD format widely used in Russia and required for some of the most advanced programs currently available for the Spectrum.

Three days remaining of Spectrum Next crowdfunding campaign, where they already reached 215% of their goal. The current cost is about $225 and you can pre-order your board through the kickstarter campaign. More details about Spectrum Next is available on the official website.

FPGAs For MCU Guys

by Max Maxfield @ eeweb.com:

A little while ago, it struck me that I was getting tired of explaining what FPGAs are and how they work their magic to those of my chums who — thus far — have worked only with microcontrollers (MCUs), so I decided to write a three-part mini-series of articles to offer as an introduction.

FPGAs For MCU Guys – [Link]

FPGA eink controller

Julien @ hackaday.io build a custom board to control e-ink display. He writes:

The idea is to control an old broken kindle 3 eink display with a FPGA. I started looking at http://essentialscrap.com/eink/waveforms.html and http://spritesmods.com/?art=einkdisplay since eink constructor is so secretive that you can’t find any information. I got some success with a stm32f4 microcontroller but was disapointed by the poor performance (low refresh, black and white only). So I decided to do something better using an FPGA and some memory, I started with the ice40 Olimex board https://www.olimex.com/Products/FPGA/iCE40/iCE40HX1K-EVB/open-source-hardware.

FPGA eink controller – [Link]

Arrow’s New FPGA-Based IoT Maker Board

Arrow Electronics has introduced a new FPGA IoT Maker Board designed for end-to-end application development and optimised for cost. The Arrow MAX1000 board can be installed directly into a custom application or integrated on to a completely separate board.

It has been created for start-ups, universities or established equipment manufacturers who want a flexible, low cost FPGA platform for development, and the distributor can also supply customised variants.

At the heart of the maker board is a compact (11x11mm) Intel MAX10 FPGA with 8000 logic elements. This single chip includes integrated flash memory, a 1Msps 12bit ADC for analogue signals and a 3.3V power supply. Other features include embedded SRAM, DSP blocks, instant-on within milliseconds, and the ability to implement Intel’s NIOS II soft core embedded processor to perform microcontroller tasks. The board is equipped with an integrated Arrow USB-Blaster that enables the FPGA to be programmed directly from a PC and debugged using the free of charge Intel Quartus Prime Lite software.

The MAX1000’s power can be supplied as 5V from the USB port or via a separate pin. An Enpirion DC/DC converter with integrated coil then generates the 3.3V supply used on board. A MEMS oscillator provides the clock supply for the FPGA and the USB bridge. The low power, 3-axis acceleration sensor – also based on MEMS technology, can be used for position and motion detection, which are often required in IoT applications. External SDRAM can be used for storage of application data or as memory for the NIOS II processor.

Visit Arrow Electronics at www.arrow.com

Source: eeDesign Europe

A FPGA controlled RGB LED MATRIX for Incredible Effects

A dot matrix RGB LED graphic panel, managed by a FPGA-based controller board that may be separately used as a demoboard, so to evaluate the potential of the on-board Spartan 6. First installment.

A FPGA controlled RGB LED MATRIX for Incredible Effects – [Link]