Tag Archives: PCIE

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.

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Avalue ESM-APLC – An Apollo Lake board that gives option for the Celeron®N3350 or Pentium®N4200 SoC

The Apollo Lake SoC has already be used in several boards and modules. Avalue, a technology company that has launched several single board products and with focus on innovative embedded products has recently launched an embedded platform called the “ESM-APLC“, a Linux-ready COM that provides support for either the Intel Apollo Lake Celeron®N3350 or Pentium®N4200 SoC.

Avalue ESM-APLC

Avalue which isn’t new to the Apolo Lake board designs released the EQM-APL last fall, a Qseven module based on the Intel’s Apollo Lake. The ESM-APLC module to some extent inherit some similar attributes of the EQM-APL module, just like the EQM-APL module allows one to use between the Apollo Atom, Celeron or the Pentium SoC, the ESM-APLC does the same with the major exemption of the Atom SoC. The ESM-APLC drops the Apollo Lake Atom SoC in its build.

The EQM-APLC module measures at 95 x 95mm in a Type6 style shape COM Express Compact module. It is equipped with the Intel Apollo lake Pentium N4200 1.1GHz  or Celeron N3350 1.1GHz  SoC Processors both of which have a low 6W TDP. ESM-APLC supports one 204-pin DDR3L 1866 SO-DIMM (up to 8GB via single socket), and the module supplies up to 64GB of optional onboard eMMC 5.0. Extensive I/O support including 8 x USB 2.0, 4 x USB 3.0, 2 x SATA III, 1 x UART, 1 x 8-bit GPIO, 1 x SMBus, 1 x LPC and 1 x I2C.

ESM-APLC provides a triple display interface option; it supports several graphics interfaces including dual-channel 18/24-bit LVDS with support up to 1920 x 1200 @60Hz, VGA Support up to 1920 x 1200 @60Hz, HDMI support up to 3840×2160 @30Hz and DP support 4096×2160 @60Hz. HD Audio is not left behind in this wealth of features.

The module expansion port comes with 3x PCIe GEN2 x1 interfaces and an optional 4 PCIe x1 or 1 PCIe x4 that comes at the cost of sacrificing the Ethernet. The module is expected to work optimally in 0 to 60°C operation with a wide range of temperature input (9- 19V AT/ATX input with ACPI 3.0. TPM 2.0 is optional). ESM-APLC is ideal for customers who need optimized processing and graphics performance with low power consumption in a long product life solution, such as embedded board, MID/UMPC, Microserver/Server and Consumer Electronics.

The module supports either Linux Kernel 4.5 and Windows® 10 Enterprise (64-bit). The module is available for purchase with no publicly disclosed price but can be obtained by contacting Avalue. More information about the product is available on the product page, and the datasheet can be downloaded here.

Banana Pi BPI-W2 SBC – A Multimedia Router And NAS Board That Runs Android Or Linux

SinoVoip has released Banana Pi BPI-W2 multimedia network and smart NAS router SBC. The BPI-W2 has a faster processor and more advanced features than last year’s Banana Pi BPI-R2. However, the new model has only two Gigabit Ethernet ports instead of four.

This SBC is designed for applications such as high wireless performance, home entertainment, home automation, and many more. The BPI-W2 runs on a Realtek RTD1296 SoC with 4x Cortex-A53 cores clocked at up to 1.5GHz with a high-end Mali-T820 MP3 GPU. By comparison, previous year’s BPI-R2 used a quad-core, Cortex-A7 MediaTek MT7623 with a Mali-450 MP4. SinoVoip confirms full support for Android 6.0CentOSDebian 9Raspbian, and Ubuntu 15.04, and the board is also said to support OpenWrt.

Banana Pi BPI-W2
Banana Pi BPI-W2

The updated I/O support is shown in the BPI-W2’s dual SATA III ports, compared to only one on the single SATA interface found on the MT7623-based BPI-R2 and RTD1295-based devices. The BPI-W2 also has 8-64GB eMMC, a microSD slot, and 2GB of DDR4.

Although limited to dual GbE ports, the board also has a GbE WAN port for router applications. Unlike the R2, there is an HDMI input in addition to the HDMI output, and a mini-DisplayPort has replaced the earlier MIPI-DSI connection. In either case, the output resolution is still limited to HD (1080p) only.

Four USB ports are available, including single USB 3.0 and Type-C ports. There is a 40-pin header that is claimed to support Raspberry Pi 3 add-on boards. Other features involve RTC, IR, debug, audio I/O, and a 12V input.

Like other Banana Pi boards, the BPI-W2 is open source, shipping with schematics and other documentation. The AliExpress and wiki pages list and show PCIe 2.0 and 1.1/SDIO slots on the front as well as a single M.2 slot on the back. Yet the PCIe slots are also tagged as M.2 slots (E-Key), and it’s unclear which slots are capable of what. The PCIe slots are capable to support up to 802.11ac WiFi, and there’s also a SIM card slot.

The Banana Pi BPI-W2 is available now for $93 plus shipping on AliExpress. More information may be found on the BPI-W2 wiki page.