Tag Archives: FPGA

PicoEVB, PCIe FPGA Design in a Compact and Affordable Device

FPGA (Field-programmable gate arrays) devices have gained popularity in the past few years, mainly because of their ability to “become” any digital circuit given that there are enough logic blocks. These devices have endless applications and are sometimes faster which is why they are also used for hardware acceleration. Joining the FPGA industry is the PicoEVB, a small, cheap, open source board designed for PCIe prototyping.

PicoEVB is designed around Xilinx Artix XC7A50T, and measures 22 x 30 x 3.8 mm (about the size of a quarter). Also, it´s schematics will be published making the device open software and hardware. The files will be uploaded on its GitHub repository (there are some sample projects too). It was made to fit in laptop´s M.2 slot, and it can be used as an integrated part of your computer. It does not need any cables since its powered by your computer, and it can be programmed using Xilings Vivado IDE.

Nowadays, PCIe dev boards could cost around $1000, but PicoEVB will cost $219 making it a great competitor in PCIe design. The product can be bought through PicoEVB website, Amazon, Crowd supply and Ebay.

The device has 3 LEDs, 4 digital channels, or 1 analog and 2 digital, or 2 analog channels. Additionally, PicoEVB supports Windows and Linux. The only problem that a user might find is not having an M.2 slot which can be solved with an adapter to mPCIe slot.

Everything needed to program and debug the FPGA is on board, and taking into consideration the low price, it is a great alternative for designing PCIe on a low budget without reducing functionality. It´s the most compact and affordable FPGA development kit currently in the market.

[source]

Arduino Unveils its First FPGA Board with MKR Vidor 4000, and an updated Uno WiFi Board

One of the most significant players of the open-hardware movement, The Arduino (Arduino Foundation) has finally released a set of exciting new boards after long time. The Arduino movement at some point had some legal troubles which affected the pace of hardware development, and after getting resolved, this pace is rising back and surely more boards will be coming soon.

During the Arduino Day 2018 at the Bay Area Maker Faire, Arduino announced several new products. One of those products is the MKR Vidor 4000, an FPGA-based board and Uno WiFi Rev 2, an upgraded UNO WiFi board featuring the new Microchip ATmega4809 MCU.

Arduino Vidor 4000

The MKR Vidor 4000 is the first-ever Arduino based on an FPGA chip, equipped with a SAM D21 microcontroller, a u-blox Nina W102 WiFi module, and an ECC508 crypto chip for secure connection to local networks and Internet. MKR Vidor 4000 is the latest addition to the MKR family, designed for a wide range of IoT applications, with its distinctive form factor and substantial computational power for high performance. The board will be coupled with an innovative development environment, which aims to democratize and radically simplify access to the world of FPGAs.

An FPGA is a Field Programmable Gate Array. In other words, it is reconfigurable hardware. Unlike a microcontroller, an FPGA is not running software. Instead, its gate arrays change configuration for a specific task. FPGAs has been considered a hard topic for some hardware enthusiasts to understand and implement, but with the launch of this FPGA focused maker’s board this barrier might just be coming down. FPGA gives us true parallel processing as compared to the use of an interrupts driven implementation in microcontroller system. The Vidor 4000 FPGA board is also capable of audio and video processing.

 

“The new MKR Vidor 4000 will finally make FPGA accessible to makers and innovators,” said Massimo Banzi, Arduino co-founder. “And we are looking forward to changing the game yet again.”

Below are the MKR Vidor 4000 specifications:

  • FPGA part
    • FPGA – Intel Cyclone FPGA with 16K Logic Elements, 504Kbit of embedded RAM and 56 18×18 bit HW multipliers for high-speed DSP
    • System Memory – 8 MB SDRAM
    • Storage – 2 MB QSPI Flash (1MB for user applications)
    • Micro HDMI connector
    • MIPI camera connector
    • mini PCIe connector with up to 25 user programmable pins
  • MCU – Microchip SAMD21 Cortex-M0+ 32bit low power Arm MCU  @ 48 MHz with 256 KB flash, 32 KB SRAM
  • Connectivity – Wifi & BLE powered by U-BLOX NINA W10 Series module
  • I/Os driven both by SAMD21 and FPGA
    • 8x Digital I/O Pins
    • 12x PWM Pins (0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, A3 – or 18 -, A4 -or 19)
    • 1x UART, 1x SPI, 1x I2C
    • 7x analog input pins (ADC 8/10/12 bit)
    • 1x analog output pins (DAC 10-bit)
    • 8x external Interrupts (0, 1, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, A1 -or 16-, A2 – or 17)
    • DC Current per I/O Pin – 7 mA
  • USB – 1x micro USB device/host port
  • HW Security – ECC508 crypto chip
  • Power Supply
    • 5V via USB/VIN
    • Battery – Supports Li-Po single cell, 3.7V, 700mAh minimum
    • Circuit Operating Voltage – 3.3V
  • Dimensions – 61.5 x 25 mm
Arduino Uno WiFi Rev 2
Arduino Uno WiFi Rev 2

The new Uno WiFi Rev 2 is built around the new Atmega 4809, a u-blox Nina W102 WiFi module (replaces the ESP8266 in the previous version), an onboard IMU (Inertial Measurement Unit), and a Microchip ECC608 crypto chip for hardware security. The ATmega 4809 provides 6KB of RAM, 48KB of flash, three UARTS, Core Independent Peripherals (CIPs), and an integrated high-speed ADC.

The Uno WiFi Rev 3 is expected to upgrade projects that need IoT connectivity using the classic Arduino form factor and will find applications in the areas of automotive, drones, agriculture, consumer electronics, IoT gateway, and others.

Pricing information has not been disclosed so far, but it’s expected the Arduino MKR Vidor 4000 to have a price around $60. The Vidor 4000 and the Uno WiFi Rev 2 boards are expected to start selling at the end of June.

Getting started with FPGA? Try the Arduino IDE Compatible Snō Module

Field-programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs) are the next generation of programmable logic devices. Although they are fantastic devices for circuit programming, finding your way around them might not be so easy. Designing with FPGAs comes with considerable difficulty, due to its elusive nature and intricacies that attend its learning.

An FPGA is a device that allows you to program real-time circuits instead of emulating them. This device has the ability to be programmed for a specific function by the end user instead of its manufacturer.

Arduino Snō Module
Snō Module

The Snō FPGA module by Alorium Technology has been built to give an easier programming experience by integrating a compatible ATMega328 controller, the same microcontroller that powers the popular Arduino Uno board, making the FPGA module work with the Arduino IDE.

The Arduino Snō Module board is powered by low-end Intel MAX 10 FPGA Chip, an FPGA chip with 1,000 logic array blocks. The board measures at 0.7 x 1.7 inches. The Snō is programmable with Arduino embedded 8-bit AVR instruction set. Also, the Snō has an intriguing workflow for programming the FPGA – Through the Arduino IDE, you can use the pre-programmed or downloadable XBs (Xcelerator Blocks) that can configure the FPGA for functions like servo control and NeoPixel operation.

A handful of people acquire FGPAs for simple pre-defined functions that could easily be handled by a micro-controller. And this explains why the Snō FPGA module also comes with a feature that allows you to program completely custom circuits to handle whatever task you want. Their OPENXLR8 workflow gives you the ability to program and upload new XBs for your own functions.

The first step in setting up your computer to program and connect with the Snō is to install the standard Arduino IDE software. The Arduino is compatible with Windows, MacOS, and Linux. On a final note, the Arduino Snō is generally configurable, boast a higher performance and is fast.

The Sno board is available for purchase at competitive $49 price tag. You can buy it online from either Mouser Electronics or Arrow. More information can be found on the product page here.

BeagleWire is an Open Source FPGA Board With BeagleBone Compatibility

Beaglebone boards are low power open source single board computers created to teach open source hardware and software to makers. However, BeagleWire is a development platform designed for use with Beaglebone board. BeagleWire is a Beaglebone compatible shield based on the Lattice iCE40HX FPGA and is also an open source FPGA development board, a rare feature for FPGA boards. The BeagleWire’s hardware, software, and FPGA toolchain are completely open source.

 

At the heart of BeagleWire is the Lattice Semiconductor Lattice iCE40Hx FPGA which affords individuals the opportunity to make changes and reprogram. BeagleWire does not require external tools (JTAG), and the whole software stack is Open Source. BeagleWire can be easily expanded by adding external modules such as, modules for high-speed data acquisition, software-defined radio, or advanced control applications. Using common connectors like Pmod and Grove makes it possible to connect various interesting external modules which are widely available in stores. This makes prototyping new imaginative digital designs easier.

Lattice iCEv40Hx is from the Lattice iCE40 family. The latter is simply a family of FPGAs which have a regular structure, and are created to support cheap, high volume system and consumer applications. iCE40 is an energy saving device that enables work with small batteries.

BeagleWire has special features and advantages which are FPGA: Lattice iCE40HX4K – TQFP 144 Package, GPMC port access from the BeagleBone, SPI programming port from the BeagleBone, does not require external tools (JTAG), minimalistic architecture and very regular structure, has an energy saving device which allows it to work with small batteries, it is cheap and easy to use for application development, fully open-source toolchain and many more.

BeagleWire software support is still developing. Some of the useful examples and ready to use answers can be found there. For communication between FPGA and ARM, GPMC can be used. Programming is done by SPI interface. BeagleWire uses second BeagleBone SPI port. SPI frequency should be between 1Mhz and 25Mhz. Also, BeagleWire software repository contains a simple SDRAM controller written in Verilog which supports communication between SDRAM and iCE40.

The following are the specifications of BeagleWire:

  • FPGA: Lattice iCE40HX4K – TQFP 144 Package
  • Memory:
    • 32 MB SDRAM
    • 4 MB SPI Flash for FPGA self-configuration
  • Clock: 100 MHz onboard external clock
  • Extensibility:
    • 4 x Pmod connector
    • 4 x Grove connector
    • GPIO
  • User Interfaces:
    • 4 x LED
    • 2 x push button(with hardware noise debouncing)
    • 2 x DIP switch
  • Compatibility: access via GPMC port and SPI
    • BeagleBone Black
    • BeagleBone Black Wireless
    • element14 BeagleBone Black Industrial
  • Operating Voltage: 3.3 V
  • Input Voltage: 5 V from BeagleBone
  • Fully Open Source:
  • Dimensions: 90 mm x 68 mm x 18 mm
  • Weight: 42.5 g

The BeagleWire puts up a strong comparison with similar FPGA-like boards.

Comparison

Communication between BeagleWire and BeagleBone Black is over the GPMC port. This is a simple and efficient solution. The GPMC port has 16 lines width, and its maximum clock frequency is 100 Mhz. BeagleWire is going to be compatible with BeagleBone Black, BeagleBone Black Wireless, SeeedStudio BeagleBone Green, SeeedStudio BeagleBone Green Wireless, SanCloud BeagleBone Enhanced, and element14 BeagleBone Black Industrial.

BeagleWire is available for pre-order now and is expected to ship by May 31, 2018. BeagleWire goes for $85 for pre-order, and the BeagleWire Deluxe Kit is also available for pre-order for $160 all on CrowdSupply

Taking Advantage of Embedded FPGA (eFPGA)

By Geoff Tate, CEO of Flex Logix, Inc.

Whether you are designing an SoC, MCU or other chip, the one common heartache is “freezing RTL.” Up until that point, it’s no problem making a change or update, but once it’s frozen, the chip design is “locked in.” A change after that point could require a new spin that is not only costly, but can also significantly delay the chip development schedule.

Now imagine what it would be like to have no deadline to freeze RTL. What chip designer would not want that? The good news is this is now possible using embedded FPGA (eFPGA). With eFPGA, designers have the flexibility to make changes at any point in the chip development process, even in the customers’ systems. While this is beneficial to any chip design team, it is especially beneficial for applications such as data centers, networking, deep learning, artificial intelligence, aerospace and defense.

What is eFPA?

Many people think that eFPGA is the same as traditional FPGA such as those offered by Xilinx and Altera. This is not the case at all. While the technology is similar, eFPGA requires no SERDES and PHYs because on-chip signaling is very fast. Density is also very similar, although some eFPGA platforms are much better than others so designers need to do their homework and shop around for the best platform. The real difference is the users. FPGA chips are used primarily by systems companies, with some in high volume. eFPGAs are used primarily by chip companies who need to integrate a small amount of FPGA-like flexibility into their chips.

An FPGA combines an array of programmable/reconfigurable logic blocks in a programmable interconnect fabric. In an FPGA chip, the outer rim of the chip consists of a combination of GPIO, SERDES and specialized PHYs such as DDR3/4. In advanced FPGAs, the I/O ring is roughly 1/4 of the chip and the “fabric” is roughly 3/4 of the chip. The “fabric” itself is mostly interconnect in today’s FPGA chips where 20-25% of the fabric area is programmable logic and 75-80% is programmable interconnect.

(more…)

SMARC module for Industrial Ethernet

eCOUNT embedded’s ES-1XXX is the company’s first Computer-on-Module family to support the SMARC 2.0 standard from the SGET.

The modules are equipped with ARM Cortex-A9 based Intel Cyclone V SoCs (formerly Altera), which integrate a configurable FPGA. By integrating the Intel Cyclone V SoCs on SMARC Computer-on-Modules customers benefit from an application-ready ultra-low-power platform for extremely cost-efficient custom IIoT designs. Compared to full-custom designs, the development and certification effort is significantly reduced by up to 50 to 90 percent thanks to the provision of complete BSPs, carrier boards, accessories and FPGA IP as well as comprehensive documentation. Thanks to the configurable FPGA, the SMARC modules can be used in very different configurations. Core FPGA IP, for example for standard industrial Ethernet protocols such as Profinet and EtherCAT, is available off-the-shelf. Many other possible configurations are available including as I/O controllers, big data loggers for data acquisition, network controllers or extremely energy-efficient HMIs with solar power supply as well as generic configurations.

The ES-1XXX modules operate in the extended temperature range of -40 to +85°C and offer a life cycle of at least 10 years. They are available in dual and single-core Intel Cyclone V SoC configurations (SE and SX) with up to 110KLE and 925 MHz and up to 2 GB of DDR3 RAM. [via]

eCOUNT embedded –  www.ecount-embedded.de

Press Release PDF

TS-4100 – A i.MX6 UL (UltraLite) Bases Hybrid SBC With FPGA And Programmable ZPU Core

Technologic Systems has begun testing its first i.MX6 UL (UltraLite) based board, which is also its first computer-on-module that can work as a single board computer. The footprint of 75 x 55mm TS-4100 module features a microSD slot, onboard eMMC, a micro-USB OTG port with power support, and optional WiFi and Bluetooth. This board offers long-term support and a temperature operating range of -40 to 85°C, and ships with schematics and open source Linux images (Ubuntu 16.04 and Debian Jesse).

Technologic System's Hybrid SBC TS-4100 (front)
Technologic System’s Hybrid SBC TS-4100 (front)

This board contains a low-power (4k LUT) MachX02 FPGA from Lattice Semiconductor. Technologic has improved the FPGA with an open source, programmable ZPU soft core that provides support for offloading CPU tasks as well as harder real-time on I/O interactions. The 32-bit, stack-based ZPU architecture offers a full GCC tool suite. In this implementation, it’s imbued with 8K of BlockRAM, which can be accessed by the i.MX6 UL, and has full access to all FPGA I/O.

The low-power i.MX6 UL and its power management IC are utilized to provide an efficient 300mW typical power usage. The module is equipped with 512MB to 1GB DDR3. The specification list concludes only 4GB MLC eMMC or 2GB of “robust” SLC eMMC as options, but the block diagram suggests you can load up to 64GB eMMC.

The TS-4100 is equipped with a pair of 10/100 Ethernet controllers plus LCD and I2S interfaces for media connectivity. There are also several serial and USB interfaces along with the micro-USB OTG port. Other interfaces are listed as an accelerometer, gyro, SPI, I2C, and PWM and 2 separate CAN buses.

Key specifications for the TS-4100:

  • 512MB to 1GB DDR3 RAM
  • 4GB MLC eMMC or 2GB SLC eMMC (possibly up to 64GB eMMC)
  • MicroSD slot
  • Wireless — 802.11 b/g/n with antenna; Bluetooth 4.0 BLE
  • 2x 10/100 Ethernet controllers
  • Parallel LCD
  • I2S audio
  • Micro-USB OTG port (with power support)
  • USB 2.0 OTG (with power support)
  • 2x RS232
  • RS232 for Linux console
  • SPI, I2C, 2x CAN buses
  • Optional FPGA/ZPU-linked 16-pin expansion header (5x DIO, 1x SPI, 1x I2C) for optional daughter cards
  • 46x DIO (linked to FPGA)
  • 8x PWM
  • Accelerometer/gyro
  • 5V input via USB or via baseboard
  • 0.3W typical consumption
  • Operating temperature — -40 to 85°C
  • Dimensions — 75 x 55mm
  • Operating systems — Linux 3.14.52 (Ubuntu 16.04 and Debian Jessie)

@Infineon Offers a set of complete power reference #designs for @XilinxInc #FPGAs and #SoCs / #MPSoCs with @AvnetSilica via @oemsecrets

more details on the “Oemsecrets” post here.

Tiny FPGA BX – A Tiny, Open Source FPGA development board for Makers

The TinyFPGA boards from Luke Valenty (TinyFPGA) are a series of low-cost, open-source FPGA development boards. These boards offer an inexpensive way to get an introduction to the world of FPGAs.

If you have ever considered working with an FPGA before, you will know how difficult they could be especially for those new to the game. TinyFPGA boards are an excellent way to kickstart development with them. They are breadboard friendly, and one can put up a simple circuit around them before adding things like sensors or actuators.

The TinyFPGA boards are currently made up of about three series – The TinyFPGA A1 that offers an X02-256 containing 256 logic cells; the A2 sports with an X02-1200 of about 1200 logic cells, and lastly the B2 boats an ICE40LP8K with 7680 logic cells. They are low cost in nature, costing about $12,00, $18,00 and $38.00 respectively. The latest upcoming release to the TinyFPGA board family is the TinyFPGA BX.

Like the other Tiny FPGA Boards, the Tiny FPGA BX boards is quite flexible and powerful. The BX boards are intended for the maker’s community. The BX module allows one to design and implement a digital logic circuit in a tiny form-factor, and it’s perfect for building with breadboards or custom PCBs.

The TinyFPGA BX shares close similarities with the TinyFPGA B2 and are both based on the Lattice ICE40LP8K FPGA Chip with about 7680 logic cells. The BX board will offer an incredible power to project development and allows to achieve things not usually expected on traditional microcontroller boards at a fraction of the cost.

According to Luke, the TinyFPGA BX prototype boards are currently being manufactured. The PCBs have been fabricated and are now waiting for assembly.

The BX measure at 0.7 by 1.4 inches and comes with a built-in USB interface, and preloaded with a USB Bootloader. It is expected to have 8Mbit of SPI Flash with only 5Mbit available for user applications.

The following are some of the available board specifications:

  • ICE40LP8K FPGA
    • 7,680 4-input look-up-tables
    • 128 KBit block RAM
    • Phase Locked Loop
    • 41 IO pins
  • Small, breadboard friendly form-factor
    • 0.7 by 1.4 inches
  • Built-in USB interface with open source USB bootloader
  • 8MBit of SPI Flash with 5MBit available for user applications
  • Integrated 3.3v and 1.2v regulators
    • 3.3v LDO regulator can supply up to 300ma of current to support external peripherals
  • Ultra-Low-Power 16MHz MEMs Oscillator
    • 1.3ma active power
    • 50ppm stability

These TinyFPGA boards offer an inexpensive way for hackers and makers to get an introduction to the world of FPGAs. And, with their small size, these boards can provide an easy way to add some programmable logic to a small project.

FPGA gives us the power to add real deal hardware functionality to our project, unlike with Microcontroller, where those features can only be added to a bit of software banging. The TinyFPGA Bx boards are still not fully launched yet, so now price point is currently available but is expected to share similar costing with the TinyFPGA B2 at $38.00.

More information about the project launch can be found on the crowdsupply page and also on the hackaday board page announcement. If you are interested in getting introduced to the world of FPGA, this guide from Luke is an excellent way to kickstart your adventure.

iWave releases first Xilinx Zynq 7000 based SOM Module

The Zynq 7000 family based on the All Programmable SoC architecture are processor-center platforms that offer software, hardware and I/O programmability in a single chip.

iWave Systems which has released several Altera based FPGA system on modules has just announced its SODIMM (Small Outline Dual In-Line Memory Module) form-factor Xilinx Zynq based module known as the iWave’s iW-RainboW-G28M. The iW-RainboW-G28M features the Xilinx Zynq 7000 series SOC with Dual Cortex A9 CPU @ 866MHz, 85K FPGA logic cells, and up to 125 FPGA IOs.

iWave iW-RainboW-G28M SOM

The iWave iW-RainboW-G28M is compatible with the Zynq Z-7007S, Z-7014S, Z-7010, and Z-7020 SoC. Equipped with an onboard 512 Mbytes of NAND Flash, 512Mbytes of DDR3 SDRAM, Gigabit Ethernet, USB 2.0 ports, an optional Micro SD slot, and an optional WIFI/Bluetooth module with a form-factor of 67.6 mm x 37 mm plug-in SODIMM style. It supports -40 to 85oC temperatures and powered through the SOM edge connector with a 3.3 DC Volt.

SOM Block Diagram

The following are the SOM specifications:

  • SoC –
    • Xilinx Zyng 7000 SoC
    • Single/Dual Cortex A9 @ up to 866MHz
    • Up to 85K logic cells
  • SoC Compatibility –
    • Compatible with Z-7007S, Z-7014S, Z-7010, and Z-7020
  • Memory –
    • 512 MB DDR3 and expandable to 1GB
    • 512 MB NAND Flash
    • An Optional QSPI Flash
    • Optional Micro SD Slot/eMMC (Optional)
  • Zynq PS & PL Interfaces –
    • Gigabit Ethernet x1 Port
    • USB 2.0 OTG x 1 Port
    • SD (4bit) x 1 Port
    • Debug UART
    • JTAG Port
    • 60 LVDS/120 SE FPGA IOs
  • SOM Features –
    • PMIC with RTC
    • Gigabit Ethernet Transceiver
    • USB 2.0 Transceiver
    • Optional Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Module
  • OS Support –
    • PetaLinux 4.9.0
  • Power Supply –
    • 3V DC
  • Temperature Support –
    • -400C to +850C
  • Dimension –
    • 6mm x 37mm

The iW-RainboW-G28M has applications in the areas of Industrial Automation, Machine Vision, Control & Measurement, Scientific Instruments and Medical Instruments. For pricing and availability, please contact iWave directly iW-RainboW-G28M SODIMM SOM.