Author Topic: 8$ iCE40 developer board..  (Read 22016 times)

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Offline aventuri

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8$ iCE40 developer board..
« on: September 17, 2017, 05:15:50 pm »
i've just found this Upduino board, a Lattice iCE40 based design for less then 8$ shipping included!! tell me about cheapness..
BTW it looks like an Ultra Plus version of Lattice FPGA with ~5K LUT  and boasting 8 MAC/DSP cores, 1Mbit of added RAM, I2C HW cores. it's a beefy IC (with respect to Lattice lineup, of course..)
 
it's also promoted by Lattice Semi itself..  that's a kind of an endorsement!
 
two one downside:
* you need to stick with Icecube2 for design, as it's still one of the few iCE40 devices still not supported by the free toolchain arachne-pnr/icestorm..
* there's no programmer on board and so need a Raspi or similar SBC with SPI port.. not a big deal..

there's schematic and all, so pretty documented project

finally this board CAN be programmed with the free toolchain Yosys/Arachne-pnr/icestorm!!

looking at the Linked-in page of the owner of the site, i would say he's a Lattice "insider" and these boards are heavily subsidzed, but it's just my speculation..

me, i'm curious so i've committed for a couple and see how they fares.. eventually put up a post at the right time
 
bests

EDIT: updated with the fact that the free toolchain based in Icestorm is able to program these parts too!!
« Last Edit: February 02, 2018, 07:36:05 pm by aventuri »
 
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Offline Bruce Abbott

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Re: 8$ iCE40 developer board..
« Reply #1 on: September 18, 2017, 05:22:52 am »
Nice!
 

Offline Sal Ammoniac

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Re: 8$ iCE40 developer board..
« Reply #2 on: September 18, 2017, 07:32:58 am »
What's wrong with Icecube2?
Never trust a government that doesn't trust you.
 

Offline Bruce Abbott

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Re: 8$ iCE40 developer board..
« Reply #3 on: September 18, 2017, 02:56:17 pm »
What's wrong with Icecube2?
Only works in Windows 7-10 and Red Hat Linux. That's me out!
 
 

Offline daybyter

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Re: 8$ iCE40 developer board..
« Reply #4 on: September 18, 2017, 08:54:50 pm »
Use a VirtualBox ?
 

Offline mubes

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Re: 8$ iCE40 developer board..
« Reply #5 on: September 18, 2017, 08:59:06 pm »
Um....I tend to use icestorm but unless things have changed _very_ recently then Linux is deffo a supported platform. There are some gotchyas to getting is going and their support is write-only, but the stuff is (was) there.

Dave
 

Offline joshtyler

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Re: 8$ iCE40 developer board..
« Reply #6 on: September 18, 2017, 10:08:02 pm »
I believe that Red Hat is the only officially supported linux distro, but other distros work just fine. icecube2 works well for me on Arch.

Project Icestorm is much more pleasant to use however.
 

Offline ZaneKaminski

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Re: 8$ iCE40 developer board..
« Reply #7 on: September 19, 2017, 03:08:41 am »
iCE40 UltraPlus is an amazing part. Looks like a regular iCE40 at first, but it has more block RAM--128 kbytes in four separate banks--than any other FPGA anywhere near the same implementation cost. That's why it's pretty light on I/O; I guess they used all their die area up for sram. I've been eyeing this part for a few months, so I'm glad to score this devkit for so cheap.
 

Offline Cerebus

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Re: 8$ iCE40 developer board..
« Reply #8 on: September 19, 2017, 04:26:06 am »
What's wrong with Icecube2?
Only works in Windows 7-10 and Red Hat Linux. That's me out!

Works fine under wine. In my case on OS X, but i see no reason why it shouldn't work OK on any random Linux.
Anybody got a syringe I can use to squeeze the magic smoke back into this?
 

Offline aventuri

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Re: 8$ iCE40 developer board..
« Reply #9 on: September 19, 2017, 06:57:45 am »
i've just got the devices by snail mail; they were packaged in a very thin envelope indeed. that's a bit cheap..

in attach the first shot; sorry it's fuzzy, my phone doesn't macro very well..

in my hand the device by front side with the FPGA, the other in the "protective" bag is on the back side, so you can see the SPI flash to;. assembled on both front and back ..expensive!

now let's see if they fire up for the blinking led test..
 

Online eliocor

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Re: 8$ iCE40 developer board..
« Reply #10 on: September 19, 2017, 07:32:09 am »
Am I reading it wrong, or is the date on the postage stamp: "22 Sep 2017"?  :o

@AVenturi: are you living in Italy or in the USA? Your flag is like mine, but...
 
« Last Edit: September 19, 2017, 07:42:33 am by eliocor »
 

Offline edavid

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Re: 8$ iCE40 developer board..
« Reply #11 on: September 19, 2017, 07:34:57 am »
i've just got the devices by snail mail; they were packaged in a very thin envelope indeed. that's a bit cheap..

If the envelope is more than 1/4" thick, the postage rate goes up from $1 to $13  >:(
 

Offline aventuri

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Re: 8$ iCE40 developer board..
« Reply #12 on: September 19, 2017, 09:03:12 am »
yes, i'm still living in Italy!  :)

the time stamp is a bit fuzzy.. of course cant be 22.9! as today is only 19..  i suppose the packet was sent 1 week ago or so..
 

Offline daybyter

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Re: 8$ iCE40 developer board..
« Reply #13 on: September 19, 2017, 11:40:00 am »
How do you program the fpga? It has to be done via SPI? I ordered one of these boards now, too, and thougt about using some arduino as a programmer? (Don't have a raspberry. Just an orange pi.)
 

Offline Cerebus

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Re: 8$ iCE40 developer board..
« Reply #14 on: September 20, 2017, 01:11:38 am »
How do you program the fpga? It has to be done via SPI? I ordered one of these boards now, too, and thougt about using some arduino as a programmer? (Don't have a raspberry. Just an orange pi.)

Read the datasheet for the full details, but basically you can choose between:
  • Program the FPGA RAM via SPI from a microcontroller
  • Program the SPI EEPROM on the board, and the FPGA will program its own RAM from that at startup
  • In addition, on some other members of the iCE40 family program a write-once configuration PROM on the FPGA over SPI

From a cursory glance at the board's schematic it would appear to have strapping for choosing between the first two options.

Note that this particular board is specifically designed to fit the Arduino Micro/nano pinouts, so obviously programming the FPGA from an Arduino is going to be possible. Note that all the iCE40 parts are maximum 3V3 IO (3V6 abs. max.).
Anybody got a syringe I can use to squeeze the magic smoke back into this?
 

Offline mark03

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Re: 8$ iCE40 developer board..
« Reply #15 on: September 20, 2017, 01:46:28 am »
If nothing else, it's apparently the only way to obtain the largest ultraplus ice40 in a QFN package.  I've been interested in that part too, but nobody has stock that I know of.  I guess the risk is that you might learn to like the chip, only to find out that it will *never* be available in small quantities for your projects.
 

Offline daybyter

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Re: 8$ iCE40 developer board..
« Reply #16 on: September 20, 2017, 02:37:17 am »
I ordered such a board to give it a try.

What still irritates me, that Lattice doesn't have PDF's with datasheets on their website, like Xilinx or Altera have. Still have no clue about max frequencies or such.
 

Offline Cerebus

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Re: 8$ iCE40 developer board..
« Reply #17 on: September 20, 2017, 03:33:35 am »
I ordered such a board to give it a try.

What still irritates me, that Lattice doesn't have PDF's with datasheets on their website, like Xilinx or Altera have. Still have no clue about max frequencies or such.

Err, they most certainly do. Either that or the ghosts of PALs and GALs put them in my datasheets folder.
Anybody got a syringe I can use to squeeze the magic smoke back into this?
 

Offline Marco

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Re: 8$ iCE40 developer board..
« Reply #18 on: September 20, 2017, 06:40:45 am »
If nothing else, it's apparently the only way to obtain the largest ultraplus ice40 in a QFN package.  I've been interested in that part too, but nobody has stock that I know of.  I guess the risk is that you might learn to like the chip, only to find out that it will *never* be available in small quantities for your projects.
Are they playing some office politics with this part?

It seems almost impossible that there is no demand.
 

Offline Back2Volts

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Re: 8$ iCE40 developer board..
« Reply #19 on: September 20, 2017, 12:30:17 pm »
I have just ordered one.   May be I can learn something about FPGAs this winter.
 

Offline Bruce Abbott

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Re: 8$ iCE40 developer board..
« Reply #20 on: September 20, 2017, 07:56:49 pm »
Quote from: joshtyler
I believe that Red Hat is the only officially supported linux distro, but other distros work just fine. icecube2 works well for me on Arch.
I tried, I really did - but after wasting the whole evening I am giving up.

First problem was the license checker couldn't find my network card. Turns out it only looks for an interface called 'eth0'. Found several online tutorials on how to change the interface name - all different so which one to try? Edit this file with VI they said - file doesn't exist, VI is a disgusting piece of crap. Manage to create the file, reboot, and... no change. Turns out there's another file called GRUB that has default settings in it. Remove line that sets up interfaces, reboot and... success!

Run Icecube software and it seems to be happy - except it can't find the tool directory so it can't compile or synthesize anything. Wot's this - a directory full of 64 bit executables - but my machine is 32 bit!
       
 

Offline daybyter

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Re: 8$ iCE40 developer board..
« Reply #21 on: September 20, 2017, 08:28:34 pm »
It's the other way around here with many tools. I have to run quartus and ise sims in 32 bit virtual boxes on my 64 bit machine.

On topic:



But maybe we could start an upduino 'get started' thread here.  Seems like there are not many tutorials yet.
 

Offline bingo600

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Re: 8$ iCE40 developer board..
« Reply #22 on: September 23, 2017, 05:25:54 pm »
Have a board underway

I can't download the Icecube2 sw  >:(
It says page not found , on both that one , and the licence gen page.
I have had a lattice account for some time , but haven't been logged in for 1+ year.
They write something about 1 buisiness day to activate a new/sleeping account  :palm:

I can download the PDF's etc.
But no sw

/Bingo

Ps: Attached a Makefile version of the Raspi programmer  (rename to .tar.gz)
« Last Edit: September 23, 2017, 06:29:17 pm by bingo600 »
 

Offline Bruce Abbott

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Re: 8$ iCE40 developer board..
« Reply #23 on: September 24, 2017, 05:44:31 am »
Only works in Windows 7-10 and Red Hat Linux. That's me out!
Ubuntu was a no go, but the Windows version does work in XP, so I'm back in!

 

Offline aventuri

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iCEcube2 on Linux [Re: 8$ iCE40 developer board..]
« Reply #24 on: September 24, 2017, 06:04:29 pm »
i had three different issues for running iCEcube2 in Linux/ Debian stretch (the latest stable..), but finally i did it!!

i'll enumerate the issues because they are pretty easy to workaround and, as running native should be more efficient then running emulated like wine or virtualized like virtualbox (how many choices, in the end, anyway..), i think it worth the effort to fix these.

let met start saying the iCEcube2 is a 32bit application so you'll need the multi-arch setup if you run (as i am)  an AMD64 architecture OS.

the first issue (you'll fall into at setup time of the install package..)  is that the application depends on a libpng12-x library, but the current Debian uses a libpng16.. package. luckily you can have both the libs at the same time, but you'll have to install the package manually.

i've got mine from the official Debian repo from a previous version and installed this way:

Code: [Select]
sudo dpkg -i /home/andrea/Scaricati/libpng12-0_1.2.50-2+deb8u3_i386.deb

now we are good to go for the install phase, let's get it through and point the install at the right license file you should have got from the Lattice web site..

then at app startup, i stumbled into a problem with recognizing my license.dat was not good. it's a "macrovision technology" so always very dumb..  :-)

the issue here is that the recent Debian (and Ubuntu?) install are using "smart names" for network interfaces. so it's no more plain old ETHO on ifconfig but it's a "smarter" enps025 interface or something like that (i removed that name from my mind!), BTW this is a systemd thing.. please don't start an holy war on that! :-)

again with some google-fu you have plenty of choices to put back the old name, and i chose to add to my "grub bootloader" the param net.ifnames=0 that make the trick

now the app starts ok, and load the sample projects and so far so good.. what happens now when you try the synthesys for example... error like these:

Code: [Select]
...
/opt/lattice/lscc/iCEcube2.2017.01/synpbase/bin/synplify_pro: 137: [: unexpected operator
/opt/lattice/lscc/iCEcube2.2017.01/synpbase/bin/synplify_pro: 151: [: !=: argument expected
/opt/lattice/lscc/iCEcube2.2017.01/synpbase/bin/synplify_pro: 321: /opt/lattice/lscc/iCEcube2.2017.01/synpbase/bin/config/execute: Syntax error: "(" unexpected (expecting ";;")

this is again not a big deal but anyway again a small hitch to scratch. the issue here is that in Debian /bin/sh is a symbolic link to /bin/dash. no good for sick scripts..

so now you have two choices.
  • modify the Lattice scripts when you see these errors on the logs windows
  • change the default shell back to bash

i preferred the former option and so i made my way in the script directories, manually updating in first line /bin/bash in place of /bin/sh.
Code: [Select]
/opt/lattice/lscc/iCEcube2.2017.01/synpbase/bin/
/opt/lattice/lscc/iCEcube2.2017.01/synpbase/bin/config/

finaly i've been able to restart iCEcube2 and make my bitstream!

is that easy!? :-)
« Last Edit: September 24, 2017, 06:08:28 pm by aventuri »
 
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