Electronics > FPGA

SQRL Acorn as an interesting Artix-7 board?

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Fred27:
I keep seeing SQRL Acorn CLE-215 boards appearing on eBay. From what I can tell they were intended for crypto mining, but didn't go down well due to the necessary software not appearing. Cue a lot of angry people and boards being sold on eBay.

Considering it's an Artix-7 and it has a M.2 interface plus a JTAG header, I was wondering if this would make an interesting board to play around with. I'm very much a beginner with FPGAs and have played with Spartan-7 and Zynq. My gut feel is that any PCIe work is probably advanced stuff and that it would end up gathering dust, especially without a schematic. Just thought I'd ask and maybe put others onto a good deal - at eBay prices that is, not the original selling price.

Link to manufacturer: http://squirrelsresearch.com/acorn-cle-215/
eBay example: https://www.ebay.com/itm/Used-SQRL-Acorn-CLE-215-Artix-7-FPGA-w-Powered-Carrier/184251132237

Anyone have an opinion?

SiliconWizard:

--- Quote from: Fred27 on April 14, 2020, 11:04:35 am ---My gut feel is that any PCIe work is probably advanced stuff and that it would end up gathering dust, especially without a schematic.

--- End quote ---

You're quite right about that.
The board has nothing but the FPGA, power supply stuff, heatsinking and a PCIe interface. There's no access to any other IOs as far as I can see. So the only use case would be to implement some kind of accelerator for a computer. If that's of any interest to you. Then you'd need to learn about implementing a PCIe interface. And writing the appropriate driver for the OS. And... And.

Yes it's going to gather dust in a drawer unless you have already done all of the above. Or you have a few years available.

mark03:
Presumably, all of those pins on the M.2 connector can be used just as well for generic I/O, and M.2 connectors are cheap, so it may not matter that it was designed for PCIe... you could always use it differently.  No schematics [that I could find in two minutes] may be a more serious problem, however!

hamster_nz:

--- Quote from: mark03 on April 14, 2020, 07:57:23 pm ---Presumably, all of those pins on the M.2 connector can be used just as well for generic I/O, and M.2 connectors are cheap, so it may not matter that it was designed for PCIe... you could always use it differently.  No schematics [that I could find in two minutes] may be a more serious problem, however!

--- End quote ---

If they were running PCIe over those pins then they will be the high speed transceivers, and not generic low-speed fabric pins.

asmi:

--- Quote from: SiliconWizard on April 14, 2020, 05:11:12 pm ---Yes it's going to gather dust in a drawer unless you have already done all of the above. Or you have a few years available.

--- End quote ---
Well it's not that bad - Xilinx provides free PCIE IP so you can put together some working design relatively quickly, and they also provide drivers for Linux for that IP, but without available GPIO utility of such board would be severely limited.

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