Access the latest quantum technology

Quantum technology in Bristol and bath - find out more about how you can access the commercialisation of quantum technology for sensing and security

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Entry level FPGA WiFi dev board supports RISC-V Soft CPU

By Nick Flaherty

Microsemi has teamed up with distributor Future Electronics on a low cost development board that uses a Microsemi PolarFire non-volatile field programmable gate array (FPGA) with a RISC-V soft core.

The Avalanche development board includes a RISC-V-based soft central processing unit (CPU) pre-programmed to the kit (for replacing MIPS designs) alongside WiFi and Ethernet networking. This supports the ongoing expansion of Microsemi's recently announced Mi-V ecosystem, which brings together industry leaders involved in the development of RISC-V to leverage their capabilities and streamline RISC-V designs for customers. 
As the lowest cost entry development board available today for designing with Microsemi's lowest power, cost-optimised mid-range PolarFire FPGAs, Future's Avalanche board lowers the barrier to entry for PolarFire FPGAs (from the Actel acquisition) and helps expand Microsemi's market opportunities for the device.

"The availability of Future Electronics' Avalanche board delivers customers the best value for a mid-range density FPGA development board featuring our PolarFire FPGAs," said Ted Marena, director of FPGA marketing for Microsemi. 

"With 300K logic elements (LEs), a Wi-Fi module, 1000 Base-T and numerous expansion connectors, engineers can quickly prototype their ideas at minimal cost. Future Electronics has not only lowered the cost to adopt PolarFire FPGAs, but it is also enabling customers to develop solutions leveraging the power of Microsemi's Mi-V ecosystem and the open RISC-V ISA," he said.

Future Electronics' Avalanche development board also features serial flash memory, double data rate type three (DDR3) DRAM and a Microsemi VSC8531 triple speed PHY powered by Microsemi's LX7167 2.4A hysteretic step-down regulator, making the platform ideal for developing several applications within the industrial market, including industrial internet of things (IoT), secured wired communications, Gb Ethernet bridging and imaging. It also offers industry-standard connectors Arduino Shield, mikroBUS and a Peripheral Module (Pmod) interface. These three expansion headers allow for the use of additional boards to implement an expanded set of applications including infrared, thermal imaging, industrial cameras, touch screen and other wireless interfaces.

"As the newest addition to our family of development boards, the Avalanche board offers the lowest cost platform available in the market for Microsemi's innovative PolarFire technology," said Martin Bernier, director of the Engineering Support Group for Future Electronics. "We believe industrial, medical, defense and communication customers will be excited about PolarFire FPGA's ability to deliver up to 50 percent lower power than other mid-range density devices."

The increasing cost of manufacturing applications with specific input/outputs (I/Os) and interfaces means producing application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs) and processors optimized for every device scenario is becoming unsustainable. This is especially true as both IoT and artificial intelligence (AI) drive interconnect and networking complexity. In many markets, especially wired communications, industrial and automotive, FPGAs and other configurable logic solutions are increasingly relied on to fill the gap--solving throughput, security and interface challenges, while their flexibility drives down overall cost associated with supporting product line diversity. Because of this, Tom Hackenberg, embedded processors principal analyst at IHS Markit, predicts strong renewed FPGA growth in these markets with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) ranging from just under 6 percent to over 10 percent from 2016 to 2021.

Microsemi's PolarFire FPGA devices provide cost-effective bandwidth processing capabilities with the lowest power footprint. They feature 12.7 Gbps transceivers and offer up to 50 percent lower power than competing mid-range FPGAs, and include hardened PCIe controller cores with both endpoints and root port modes available, as well as low power transceivers. The company's PolarFire Evaluation Kit is a comprehensive alternative platform for evaluating its PolarFire FPGAs which includes a PCIe edge connector with four lanes and a demonstration design. The kit features a high-pin-count (HPC) FPGA mezzanine card (FMC), a single full-duplex lane of surface mount assemblies (SMAs), PCIe x4 fingers, dual Gigabit Ethernet RJ45 and a small form-factor pluggable (SFP) module.

The Avalanche board for PolarFire, part number AVMPF300TS-01, is available now from Future Electronics. 

Related stories:

No comments: