Author Topic: where did all the lower end FPGAs go ??  (Read 5807 times)

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Offline rob77

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where did all the lower end FPGAs go ??
« on: June 16, 2022, 11:47:09 am »
haven't done a FPGA project for a while, but now i have one to work on.. a small project with a need for a small-ish FPGA in single piece quantities (15kLE-ish, ~60 IOs, no high speed transceivers). wanted to buy some silicon for it, so went to TME... nothing, Farnell nothing... Mouser, Digikey nothing (either obsolete parts in stock or just higher end).
i'm familiar with altera, so was looking for MAX10 chips (as they're not obsoleted yet), and there is simply none...   
on the other hand i see a lot of lattice fpgas in stock, so is it time to switch ?
 

Offline jeremy

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Re: where did all the lower end FPGAs go ??
« Reply #1 on: June 16, 2022, 11:53:43 am »
Search the forum for “chipageddon”  ;)
 

Offline voltsandjolts

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Re: where did all the lower end FPGAs go ??
« Reply #2 on: June 16, 2022, 12:25:53 pm »
Yup, FPGAs virtually unobtanium.
MAX10 situation is problem for me too.
 

Offline AndyC_772

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Re: where did all the lower end FPGAs go ??
« Reply #3 on: June 16, 2022, 01:25:49 pm »
Intel bought Altera because they're interested in big, fast devices to accelerate their high performance servers. They have no interest in the smaller parts, and I wouldn't be at all surprised if devices like Cyclone (4, 5, 10) FPGAs are never fabricated again.

Offline NorthGuy

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Re: where did all the lower end FPGAs go ??
« Reply #4 on: June 16, 2022, 02:38:32 pm »
Intel bought Altera because they're interested in big, fast devices to accelerate their high performance servers. They have no interest in the smaller parts, and I wouldn't be at all surprised if devices like Cyclone (4, 5, 10) FPGAs are never fabricated again.

Same with Xilinx bought by AMD.
 


Offline rob77

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Re: where did all the lower end FPGAs go ??
« Reply #6 on: June 16, 2022, 03:50:40 pm »
you can try to use a base board like this one

https://pt.aliexpress.com/item/1005003810516969.html?spm=a2g0o.productlist.0.0.242c62a7HfH2DG&algo_pvid=bf8600d6-1ccb-4c8a-b1d2-8d8effe9d1a6&algo_exp_id=bf8600d6-1ccb-4c8a-b1d2-8d8effe9d1a6-9&pdp_ext_f=%7B%22sku_id%22%3A%2212000027243899141%22%7D&pdp_npi=2%40dis%21USD%21%2112.99%21%21%217.83%21%21%40210318cb16553930147897729ee780%2112000027243899141%21sea

That is very easy to buy, and works

thanks, actaully that's a cute little FPGA, but too small ;)  the biggest they have has 8K LUT4s , if i'm not mistaken then Altera LE is a LUT4+flip-flop so 15k altera LEs would be an equivalent of 15K LUT4s + 15k flip-flops on the GoWin side. (and they have only 8K + 6K). but definitely looks like a good option for small projects.
 

Offline rob77

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Re: where did all the lower end FPGAs go ??
« Reply #7 on: June 16, 2022, 04:10:08 pm »
actually that GoWin looks even worse than the unobtanium mainstream ones :D no-one sells the chips (no-one have them listed) , just the development boards.
they do have the size i need (Arora GW2AN-18) but it's not sold by any distributor so there is no point considering it.
 

Offline Daixiwen

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Re: where did all the lower end FPGAs go ??
« Reply #8 on: June 17, 2022, 07:14:59 am »
There are some FPGAs from Microchip (ex Microsemi) available on Digikey. A few IGLOO parts (but those over 15kLE and in stock are not cheap) and some Smartfusion parts, with fewer LEs than you may need but with small hardcore CPU (Cortex M-3).

But with Microsemi you must check first whether you need a license to use their Libero software. Their licensing requirements are so complicated that they provide a 5-sheet excel file to explain which license you need to work on your part (https://www.microsemi.com/document-portal/doc_download/137168-libero-license-selector-guide)
 

Offline rob77

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Re: where did all the lower end FPGAs go ??
« Reply #9 on: June 17, 2022, 09:57:07 am »
But with Microsemi you must check first whether you need a license to use their Libero software. Their licensing requirements are so complicated that they provide a 5-sheet excel file to explain which license you need to work on your part (https://www.microsemi.com/document-portal/doc_download/137168-libero-license-selector-guide)

according to that sheet they have a free license for 1 year only , so no microchip for me ;) (non commercial project)

but otherwise the price is ok i would say .. 45euros + VAT for 12K LEs or 74Eur+VAT for 27k LEs is more than acceptable nowadays. i assume the only reason those are still in stock is the giant 484 ball BGA package.

 

Offline mblinov

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Re: where did all the lower end FPGAs go ??
« Reply #10 on: June 17, 2022, 10:59:55 am »
Admittedly I've only ever used Libero v11.9 (for the legacy ProASIC3 parts), but I have simply renewed the 1 year silver license each year without any problems.
 

Online pcprogrammer

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Re: where did all the lower end FPGAs go ??
« Reply #11 on: June 17, 2022, 11:16:50 am »
Do you know about Anlogic FPGA's?

Don't know their availability but the AL3-10 comes in a lqfp-144 package and is similar to a Cyclone IV device. They also have Eagle devices which are a bit more powerful. The software needs a license but seems to be free. Can be downloaded from Sipeed. Could not find the link I used, but look here: https://www.seeedstudio.com/Sipeed-TANG-PriMER-FPGA-Development-Board-p-2881.html

Aliexpress still has dev boards for them https://nl.aliexpress.com/item/1005001774923333.html

More info about it here: https://www.eevblog.com/forum/testgear/fnirsi-1013d-100mhz-tablet-oscilloscope/msg3950413/#msg3950413

Offline rob77

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Re: where did all the lower end FPGAs go ??
« Reply #12 on: June 17, 2022, 11:59:11 am »
Do you know about Anlogic FPGA's?

they don't even have a website in English, it says "the website is upgrading" when selecting English on anlogic.com . so sorry, it's a no , no and no... ;)

if i pickle a altera (ok it's intel now) project in a form of archiving the project folder , datasheets, quartus installation file, the OS installation iso and vacuum sealing 1-2 chips.  then it's guaranteed i can revive the project in the future if a change or repair needs to be done.
if a license for the software is time limited (hello microchip) then it's not guaranteed you'll be able to re-generate the license in the future. if there is no documentation in English (anlogic) then it doesn't make sense even considering it.
 

Online pcprogrammer

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Re: where did all the lower end FPGAs go ??
« Reply #13 on: June 17, 2022, 01:30:13 pm »
You have a valid point there.

For me it was because of the fact that the FNIRSI-1013D uses it, that I bought a dev board and played with it. No biggie if I can't any more in a few years, due to the license running out. Might hack the software when that's the case, but that is a different story :)

Offline Bassman59

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Re: where did all the lower end FPGAs go ??
« Reply #14 on: June 17, 2022, 03:53:26 pm »
Admittedly I've only ever used Libero v11.9 (for the legacy ProASIC3 parts), but I have simply renewed the 1 year silver license each year without any problems.

Same. And it's the same with the current version of the tools, although the largest PolarFire you can use with the free version is the 100T and ... it just makes maintaining a design difficult because you do have to renew the license every year.

I had hoped that the Microchip purchase would fix that problem, but so far, not yet.
 

Offline chickenHeadKnob

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Re: where did all the lower end FPGAs go ??
« Reply #15 on: June 18, 2022, 06:20:59 am »
A few years ago, late 2018 I think I bought 10 spartan 6 XC6SLX9-144 from LCSC at $4.90 unit ten price. LX16's were even slightly cheaper but in BGA and I only want QFP.
I figured they have reached their lowest price point and from now on will only  increase.  That seems to be the way with obsolete fpga's as there still is some long tail demand for those older devices.

Then they disappeared - whoosh chipaggedon fairies snatched them all up. Just today I was checking LCSC for other stuff and behold they have some stock (536) for $62 bucks! plus they list a few spartan 7 and Zync for hundreds of dollaroos. I don't know what to make of what is happening, or if spartan 6's will come back down. I wonder if LCSC is just selling some hoarders old stock or if they still are being made and trickling out into the retail stream.
 

Offline mon2

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Re: where did all the lower end FPGAs go ??
« Reply #16 on: June 18, 2022, 12:34:37 pm »
Review the GOWIN and EFINIX devices. Drop the Intel / Altera devices like they have. Intel has been lost with their focus for years.
 

Online nctnico

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Re: where did all the lower end FPGAs go ??
« Reply #17 on: June 18, 2022, 02:06:53 pm »
actually that GoWin looks even worse than the unobtanium mainstream ones :D no-one sells the chips (no-one have them listed) , just the development boards.
they do have the size i need (Arora GW2AN-18) but it's not sold by any distributor so there is no point considering it.
Mouser has a good selection of Gowin devices. I like Gowin devices for small FPGA projects.
There are small lies, big lies and then there is what is on the screen of your oscilloscope.
 

Offline rob77

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Re: where did all the lower end FPGAs go ??
« Reply #18 on: June 18, 2022, 02:22:45 pm »
Review the GOWIN and EFINIX devices. Drop the Intel / Altera devices like they have. Intel has been lost with their focus for years.

who sells GOWIN chips ? i can't find any.

Efinix looks good, digikey sells the chip and are in stock... but the software is "buy before try" ? WTF ? also the licensing model is "interresting"
Quote
Try Out the Efinity Software

We do not have a free version of the Efinity software. However, when you buy a development kit, you also get a software license and one year of upgrades. After the first year you can request a free maintenance renewal. The version you get is not a watered down web edition, it supports all of our FPGAs. For an entry-level board, try the Xyloni development kit, which you can buy online from DigiKey. At $35 USD, it's not free, but it's pretty close.

i have no problem to buy a dev kit for 150euros to get the license.. (the mentioned $35 one is actually 70$ and out of stock :D )  but i would like to try the software first.
 

Offline woofy

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Re: where did all the lower end FPGAs go ??
« Reply #19 on: June 18, 2022, 03:43:29 pm »
i have no problem to buy a dev kit for 150euros to get the license.. (the mentioned $35 one is actually 70$ and out of stock :D )  but i would like to try the software first.

Exactly!
It's a short sighted policy and I really think Efinix have shot themselves in the foot with this.
Large companies who will buy these FPGA's by the reel will have no problem with the license, for them its a non-issue.
BUT! the policy excludes hobbyists and that is bad. Those hobbyists who play at home with their own money, learn to use them and build things, will go on to get jobs in the electronics industry. Their enthusiasm and the skills they acquire will impress interviewers. They will take those skills to their new employer and unfortunately for Efinix, its won't be their FPGA's that get designed in. Atmel AVR's didn't get so popular because they are great chips - they are only OK chips, but because Arduino made them so cheap and easy to use.

Online nctnico

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Re: where did all the lower end FPGAs go ??
« Reply #20 on: June 18, 2022, 03:54:50 pm »
i have no problem to buy a dev kit for 150euros to get the license.. (the mentioned $35 one is actually 70$ and out of stock :D )  but i would like to try the software first.

Exactly!
It's a short sighted policy and I really think Efinix have shot themselves in the foot with this.
Large companies who will buy these FPGA's by the reel will have no problem with the license, for them its a non-issue.
It is also an issue for bigger companies. Software for FPGAs and microcontroller must be free otherwise I won't use it. Free software (without any licensing) is much easier to transfer & keep running so long term support for a product is easier to achieve.
There are small lies, big lies and then there is what is on the screen of your oscilloscope.
 

Offline mon2

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Re: where did all the lower end FPGAs go ??
« Reply #21 on: June 18, 2022, 07:11:40 pm »
We like both, GOWIN and EFINIX. Each has a design in motion at our company and hopefully to grow with their devices.

GOWIN has a free EDU license you can download and test here:

https://github.com/magicjellybeanfpga/MiniStar

Parts are available from Edge Electronics or others worldwide. Hope that the market does not start gouging on the margins but we have had nice dealings with Edge and still recommend them for the best pricing. Certainly check with suppliers on Aliexpress or other distributors listed on their website to compare.

Have open dialog with Efinix and they mentioned that their recent production costs have been high so the latest pricing for XYLONI kit has increased. They are working on this to improve the price. My guess is still with the scarce FTDI MPSSE controller device that is onboard.

Given the situation, you can perhaps contact them to ask for a test license like others have noted in these forums ?
Quote
Contact (FAE; USA):

rochellez[at]efinixinc.com

She does most of the training videos on their website and is an excellent support contact for us.


Efinix has stated that they will consider additional kits to promote their products - so, what would you like to see as features and costs ?

If it makes business sense, we can review to spin a design / kit -> then Efinix must approve it and the kit would feature  a toolchain license.
 

Offline BrianHG

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Re: where did all the lower end FPGAs go ??
« Reply #22 on: June 18, 2022, 10:58:50 pm »
Give it 4 more years before everything begins to stabilize.
And it wont go all the way back to where we were 3 years ago.
__________
BrianHG.
 

Offline Bassman59

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Re: where did all the lower end FPGAs go ??
« Reply #23 on: June 19, 2022, 03:09:17 am »
Given the situation, you can perhaps contact them to ask for a test license like others have noted in these forums ?
Quote
Contact (FAE; USA):

rochellez[at]efinixinc.com

She does most of the training videos on their website and is an excellent support contact for us.


Efinix has stated that they will consider additional kits to promote their products - so, what would you like to see as features and costs ?

If it makes business sense, we can review to spin a design / kit -> then Efinix must approve it and the kit would feature  a toolchain license.

I contacted Efinix about their licensing and the fact that the board in question is not even available for purchase. A person called Roger Silloway, USA sales directory, responded after about a week and ignored my question and instead reiterated that the tools were available upon purchase of a kit, "which are on DigiKey." He also asked if this was hobby interest or "volume oriented production design activity."

I responded, saying that the boards were not available for purchase, and that indeed it was for production use, and that I wanted to give the tools a spin before deciding whether to even continue to investigate their parts. I honestly don't need a trinket board that'll be tossed in a drawer and never used.

After a week, still no response.
 

Offline SiliconWizard

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Re: where did all the lower end FPGAs go ??
« Reply #24 on: June 19, 2022, 03:14:52 am »
Ouch.
 


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