Author Topic: Low Cost MCU+FPGA to play with? (NOT PSOC!)  (Read 1250 times)

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Offline JPortici

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Low Cost MCU+FPGA to play with? (NOT PSOC!)
« on: April 30, 2021, 08:39:37 am »
Is there a list of low cost MCU+FPGA devices?
I am intrigued by the gowin GW1NS, but i can't find a devboard nor the device itself (also blueskull hited that it may go EOL pretty soon)
I am not really interested in PSOC, i never got the appeal
 

Offline olkipukki

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Re: Low Cost MCU+FPGA to play with? (NOT PSOC!)
« Reply #1 on: April 30, 2021, 09:15:39 am »
Is there a list of low cost MCU+FPGA devices?
What is your 'low cost' budget?
 
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Offline Ice-Tea

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Offline JPortici

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Re: Low Cost MCU+FPGA to play with? (NOT PSOC!)
« Reply #3 on: April 30, 2021, 09:52:34 am »
Uh, sure. To me low cost could be from 5 to 10-12 euro in singles
 

Offline martinribelotta

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Re: Low Cost MCU+FPGA to play with? (NOT PSOC!)
« Reply #4 on: April 30, 2021, 09:24:48 pm »
QuickLogic have an interesting product called EOS3 that is an eFPGA+CortexM4 in same die:
https://www.quicklogic.com/products/soc/eos-s3-microcontroller/

This vendor is very interesting due to adoption of FLOSS tools for eFPGA syntesis
https://www.quicklogic.com/software/qorc-mcu-efpga-fpga-open-source-tools/

You can obtain chips in mouser at least and the cost is around 6usd in qty of 1:
https://www.mouser.com/new/crowd-supply/quicklogic-eos-s3-mcu-efpga-socs/

Or an eval board from sparkfun
https://www.crowdsupply.com/sparkfun/thing-plus-quicklogic-eos-s3

PD: I not work on QuickLogic and not do not receive payment for this but I have a great entusiat of FLOSS and open source word and this type of companies is a great notice  ;D
« Last Edit: April 30, 2021, 09:27:50 pm by martinribelotta »
 

Offline nctnico

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Re: Low Cost MCU+FPGA to play with? (NOT PSOC!)
« Reply #5 on: April 30, 2021, 10:01:10 pm »
QuickLogic have an interesting product called EOS3 that is an eFPGA+CortexM4 in same die:
https://www.quicklogic.com/products/soc/eos-s3-microcontroller/
Looks interesting but appearantly no VHDL and no SystemVerilog support  :palm:
There are small lies, big lies and then there is what is on the screen of your oscilloscope.
 

Offline SiliconWizard

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Re: Low Cost MCU+FPGA to play with? (NOT PSOC!)
« Reply #6 on: May 01, 2021, 12:13:12 am »
QuickLogic have an interesting product called EOS3 that is an eFPGA+CortexM4 in same die:
https://www.quicklogic.com/products/soc/eos-s3-microcontroller/
Looks interesting but appearantly no VHDL and no SystemVerilog support  :palm:

Yeah...

Note that SymbiFlow uses yosys as the synthesis tool, and wheras yosys still does support only Verilog, GHDL has added synthesis support lately and can act as a bridge:
http://ghdl.github.io/ghdl/using/Synthesis.html
https://github.com/ghdl/ghdl-yosys-plugin

This feature is still "experimental", and I haven't tried it yet, but it looks interesting. Not sure I would trust this for any commercial project at this point of course, but it's worth noting.
 

Online tmadness

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Re: Low Cost MCU+FPGA to play with? (NOT PSOC!)
« Reply #7 on: May 02, 2021, 10:52:20 pm »
The big boy is of course the zynq. But the core is not a mcu, the development path is STEEP, the cost can be reasonable but most of the line is expensive. I am interested in knowing if there are any good mcu+fpga combos. The psoc 6 was disappointing, the psoc 5 is cool but underpowered.
 

Offline technix

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Re: Low Cost MCU+FPGA to play with? (NOT PSOC!)
« Reply #8 on: May 04, 2021, 07:37:41 pm »
I am intrigued by the gowin GW1NS, but i can't find a devboard nor the device itself (also blueskull hited that it may go EOL pretty soon)
I have just created a dev board for GW1NSR-4C: https://github.com/SushiBits/Gowinduino - that is a chip with Cortex-M3 hard core and 8MB built-in PSRAM. The problem is that the internal bus matrix of the Cortex-M3 is badly implemented IMO and I am not sure if it is fixable.

And then there is this Hercules M7 chip: http://en.hercules-micro.com/content/details73_346.html - there is a version that has 192kB on-die SRAM + 8MB SiP DRAM + 2MB SiP QSPI NOR all in a QFN88 package. However AFAIK it won't be cheap. Hercules have some cheaper MCU+FPGA offerings but those are all 8051 based.

Or if you can tolerate soft cores and you have a large enough FPGA, you can use an open source 8051 core, the free-for-FPGA Cortex-M0 and Cortex-M3 cores, a minimal RISC-V core, or a LatticeMico core (as both of which are now open source as well.)

The big boy is of course the zynq. But the core is not a mcu, the development path is STEEP, the cost can be reasonable but most of the line is expensive. I am interested in knowing if there are any good mcu+fpga combos. The psoc 6 was disappointing, the psoc 5 is cool but underpowered.
Entry point Zynq parts like Zynq 7010 and 7020 has been cheaper than their CPU counterparts from NXP (i.MX6 line) for a while at least in China, so if you don't need that much FPGA resources and can tolerate the steep development path, a Zynq 7010/7020 based module may be a good option. (Those module usually have DDR SDRAM and PMIC integrated, so there would be few high speed signals and power domains outside of it.)
« Last Edit: May 04, 2021, 07:42:32 pm by technix »
 

Offline abyrvalg

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Re: Low Cost MCU+FPGA to play with? (NOT PSOC!)
« Reply #9 on: May 04, 2021, 08:52:16 pm »
A 6k LUT FPGA + 8051 MCU (found in Rigol power supplies): http://www.capital-micro.com/PDF/CME-M5_Family_FPGA_Data_Sheet_EN060418.pdf
 

Offline Doctorandus_P

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Re: Low Cost MCU+FPGA to play with? (NOT PSOC!)
« Reply #10 on: May 04, 2021, 09:06:55 pm »
Does "ZYNQ" fall into your definition of "low cost"?
It's popular, so it's definitely cost effective for some applications.
 

Offline olkipukki

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Re: Low Cost MCU+FPGA to play with? (NOT PSOC!)
« Reply #11 on: May 04, 2021, 10:06:11 pm »
Uh, sure. To me low cost could be from 5 to 10-12 euro in singles

Did you consider soft-cores?

LatticeMico8 (still around?) or LatticeMico32 are cheapest FPGAs you can find,
very unlikely anything will fit Microblaze under your budget; not sure about Nios 
 

Offline langwadt

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Re: Low Cost MCU+FPGA to play with? (NOT PSOC!)
« Reply #12 on: May 04, 2021, 10:34:26 pm »
Does "ZYNQ" fall into your definition of "low cost"?
It's popular, so it's definitely cost effective for some applications.

and for "to play with" you can get ~$15 boards on ebay et.al.
 

Offline technix

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Re: Low Cost MCU+FPGA to play with? (NOT PSOC!)
« Reply #13 on: May 05, 2021, 01:48:39 am »
Speaking of Zynq, there are boards from dismantled Bitcoin miners that uses those. Maybe you can start with getting one of those used boards and wiping the programming and put in your own?
 

Offline RolfNoot

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Re: Low Cost MCU+FPGA to play with? (NOT PSOC!)
« Reply #14 on: May 29, 2021, 11:26:04 pm »
I’ve worked with PSoC A LOT. Got started a long time ago I with 8-bitters 8051 and PIC16C54. Then switched to PSoC1 and it was a major relieve. The analog and digital fabric helped in vastly reducing component count on the boards while being able to do reconfiguration with firmware updates. Prices are good when buying directly from their distributors. With the launch of PSoC3 and 5, the analog switch cap blocks were abandoned (unfortunately). In return their digital fabric was much more sophisticated and configurable. Their new tool (PSoC Creator) brought a lot of digital blocks along (serial comms, counters, pwm, dma etc). It even supports creating your own components using the schematic editor or Verilog.

Unfortunately PSoC6 has cut down on digital fabric and while Cypress/Infineon launched a new multi platform IDE, they stopped support for the digital blocks. The new tool (ModusToolbox) is not even able to configure it, while the old (windows only PSoC Creator) lacks on predefined components.

All-in-all they succeeded well in rendering their great unique devices into mainstream MCUs, with a higher price-tag because of the almost unusable digital fabric).

My concerns (as a devoted PSoC design partner) are echoed within Infineon, hoping they will value it’s uniqueness again.

That said, I am not expecting any changes and by looking at their roadmap, they seem to going to abandon their UDBs (digital fabric).

As looking for the next step I stumbled upon this topic and got interested in the Quicklogic EOS3. Prices are looking reasonable and I like the more less open source aspect of it. As ‘MCU guy’ I never really worked with FPGA but it always attracted me do work with it.

I used 24 datapaths on PSoC5 to create 48 PWMs but I have no idea how this compares to a ‘true’ FPGA. Anyone?

Regards,
Rolf
PSoC Rocks!
 

Offline evb149

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Re: Low Cost MCU+FPGA to play with? (NOT PSOC!)
« Reply #15 on: May 30, 2021, 04:06:43 am »
There's another thread in the FPGA section talking about the DECA MAX10-50kLE board from Arrow at $37 USD.

Although that's significantly higher than your "low cost" level, in my opinion it has high value as a general "low cost" high functionality devkit because of the following and other attributes:

1: It has a relatively large FPGA at 50kLE size so you can do almost any small to "medium" size projects with the FPGA logic included.  Even with half that number of LEs you can do a lot in my experience, but having this amount really removes many limits until you're ready to get a much more costly 100kLE+ FPGA kit.

2: The FPGA has a generous amount of built in FLASH memory which is handy for its own configuration, but you also can have a relative lot of free built in FLASH you can use as a general memory accessible to your programmable logic designs and therefore you don't have such a constraint as having to in many cases access external FLASH like SPI / QSPI / SD card etc for FPGA projects.

3: The FPGA is reasonably fast and capable and bit particularly relative to anything else you'd likely find for this price or less you might well end up with devices only 1/2 to 1/10th this capability.

4: Although these is no MCU / CPU included in some ways this is an advantage -- with ZYNQ boards for instance most ob-board / on-chip peripherals tend to be controlled through the CPU processor system, and not so much directly accessible by the FPGA logic.  Therefore if for learning or customization you want to use
such peripherals then you're not only having to do a firmware / software / configuration project to configure the processor CPU and drivers and peripherals the way you want them, but then you must make the FPGA logic talk to the peripherals via some device driver / interface mediated by the CPU OS / drivers etc.  Which in some use cases is nice, but it inhibits others such as learning to control / configure such devices directly via FPGA logic in whatever way you please.

5: Although there is no MCU/CPU included, the NIOSII/e soft-CPU is free to use for this purpose and it might take only around 700 LEs in the FPGA plus or minus depending on the peripheral interfaces and options you configure to use with it.  The tools make it easy to configure, integrate, program and use this MCU.
In a simple system you can just use all on-chip block RAM and on-chip FLASH for the program and data thus reducing complexity relative to accessing external
memories.  But with the DDR3, QSPI, MicroSD, etc. you certainly CAN expand your project to access more memory via those interfaces as well as internal chip memories.  You are also free to use other soft-core MCUs and there are many available to easily use.

6: There are fairly usable I/O expansion headers: "Two 46-pin BeagleBone expansion headers" which is actually a lot better in quality and quantity than many lower cost FPGA dev boards have.  And many lower cost boards having not so many nice integrated peripherals also typically must more heavily use their often limited I/O connections to access things this board would already have built in.  So you are free to use or not use all the available external I/O and peripherals here.

7: There are LOTS of useful / interesting peripherals & interfaces included on the board more quantity and more useful diversity than most similarly low cost FPGA or MCU devkits:
    512MB DDR3 SDRAM (16-bit data bus)
    64MB QSPI Flash
    Micro SD card socket
    10/100 Mbps Ethernet PHY with RJ45 connector
    USB 2.0 PHY with mini-USB type AB connector.
    Two 46-pin BeagleBone expansion headers
    Two MAX 10 FPGA ADC SMA inputs
    HDMI TX, incorporates HDMI v1.4 features, including 3D video support
    24-bit CD-quality audio CODEC with line-in, line-out jacks
    MIPI CSI-2 camera interface
    Two MAX 10 FPGA ADC SMA inputs
    Seven MAX 10 FPGA ADC inputs from available on the BeagleBone expansion header
    2 push-buttons
    2 slide switches
    8 blue user LEDs
    One proximity/gesture/ambient light sensor
    One humidity and temperature sensor
    One temperature sensor
    One accelerometer
    Two Capacitive touch sensor pads


Given whatever shipping costs might be it might be most pragmatically suitable to order two or something to achieve low cost per unit and then to have an additional board to play with but that depends on your desires.

Otherwise yeah look at the lower cost lattice FPGA options, ICE40, MachXO*, also older Cyclone II/III/IV boards, Sprtan3, Spartan6, and so on.
Relative to altera though I'd stay with something supported in the newer / newest quartus versions vs. some super old FPGA family, and relative to xilinx I'd
look for something generationally that vivado supports as opposed to something that'll have you using the old obsolete ISE.
 

Offline jklasdf

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Re: Low Cost MCU+FPGA to play with? (NOT PSOC!)
« Reply #16 on: May 31, 2021, 04:38:33 am »
QuickLogic have an interesting product called EOS3 that is an eFPGA+CortexM4 in same die:
https://www.quicklogic.com/products/soc/eos-s3-microcontroller/
Looks interesting but appearantly no VHDL and no SystemVerilog support  :palm:

Yeah...

Note that SymbiFlow uses yosys as the synthesis tool, and wheras yosys still does support only Verilog, GHDL has added synthesis support lately and can act as a bridge:
http://ghdl.github.io/ghdl/using/Synthesis.html
https://github.com/ghdl/ghdl-yosys-plugin

This feature is still "experimental", and I haven't tried it yet, but it looks interesting. Not sure I would trust this for any commercial project at this point of course, but it's worth noting.

Yosys does have support for many basic SystemVerilog constructs in newer versions.
 


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