Are you ready to venture into the brave new world of digital logic design? The iCEBreaker FPGA board is specifically designed for you. It works out of the box with the latest open source FPGA development tools and next-generation open CPU architectures. The iCEBreaker is easily expandable through its Pmod connectors, so you can make use of a large selection of third-party Pmod modules, as well as the several new Pmods we’ve specifically designed for it. There’s ample documentation, including well-tested workshop curricula, video tutorials, and datasheets.
If you’d like to work through, participate or organize an iCEBreaker FPGA workshop, please use this brief buying guide below:
|WTFpga workshop||iCEBreaker, DIP Switch Pmod, iCEBreaker 7-Segment Pmod|
|iCEBreaker workshop||iCEBreaker, iCEBreaker 7-Segment Pmod x2|
The iCEBreaker FPGA board has three standard Pmod connectors, which makes for a wide range of expansion options since Pmod is a standard followed by several hardware manufacturers. This gives you access to a massive library of modules — no matter what your project, you’re sure to find a Pmod for it. For examples of existing Pmods, check out the Digilent online store. For several use cases, we have also developed our own Pmods and we keep adding more as they are developed. In this campaign, we are introducing a seven-segment display Pmod, a DIP switch Pmod, an LED panel driver Pmod, and an HDMI output Pmod.
iCEBreaker V1.0b and a selection of Pmod boards
The iCEBreaker FPGA board comes with a tabbed, breakaway Pmod with three pushbuttons and five LEDs. You can use the breakaway Pmod to explore FPGAs right away, without any soldering, or you can break it off and use the Pmod connector for another Pmod.
Each iCEBreaker comes with headers for all its connectors
The iCEBreaker FPGA prototypes are already supported by the following open FPGA design tools:
Screenshots of icestudio (left) and nextpnr (right)
The main motivation for the iCEBreaker is to serve as a good educational board. To validate this, we used early prototypes of the iCEBreaker to teach a new version of Joe Fitz‘s WTFpga workshop at the 2018 Hackaday Superconference in Pasadena, California. Joe had originally developed his WTFpga workshop around a Xilinx development board. We were able to convert his workshop to the iCEbreaker quickly by adding two Pmods to the board: a seven-segment display Pmod and a DIP switch Pmod.
Side-by-side Pmods: seven-segment display (above) and DIP switch (below)
The conversion from a Xilinx target board to the iCEBreaker resulted in much faster synthesis times and simpler workshop instructions. The workshop went well — it sold out early on (and there were many additional walk-ins beyond the initial 30 spots) and workshop participants reported being happy with their experience.
All the WTFpga workshop materials are available on GitHub. The workshop is self-directed, so you can go through it on your own or with friends by buying the "iCEBreaker WTFpga Kit," which includes all the materials you’ll need. We also have a discounted ten-pack, so you can run the workshop at your company or at your hackerspace!
The iCE40UP5k FPGA on the iCEBreaker is fast enough to output 720p video! Based on the amazing Pmod design by Kevin Hubbard from Black Mesa Labs, we developed a new HDMI Pmod. The "iCEBreaker HDMI Kit" pledge level of this campaign contains a 12 bits/pixel HDMI output Pmod that plugs into the two spare Pmod connectors on the side of the iCEBreaker board. We have several examples already available for the HDMI Pmod, including the original design by Kevin that outputs a 800 x 600 resolution test pattern, and a 720p pattern generator by Micah Elizabeth Scott aka. Scanlime.
The iCEBreaker + HDMI Ouput Pmod displaying Scanlime’s 720p video pattern generator
Our HDMI output Pmod and accompanying examples are a convenient starting point for exploring HDMI video generation using an interface similar to VGA analog output. The possibilities are endless, from retro computer video output to custom game console design to video art installations.
iCEBreaker V1.0b with LED panel and driver Pmod
Large video billboards, like those on the sides of buildings in Times Square, are built from small RGB LED tiles. Thanks to recent economies of scale, the tiles are now quite affordable and are a great, fun way to play with animation and video. Our LED panel driver Pmod provides an interface from the iCEBreaker board to an LED panel equipped with a standard HUB75E connector.
LED panel driver Pmod
Bob Miller (a.k.a. kbob) has created a collection of small eye candy animations while learning verilog.
iCEBreaker V1.0a running iCEBreaker Candy munch2 (credit: Bob Miller)
This impressive flexible design by Sylvain Munaut (a.k.a. tnt) can do all sorts of things, like generate pixel data on the fly in a similar way as a graphics card generates shaders, play video frames from the iCEBreaker’s on-board flash, and display video streamed from a host computer over USB to the FPGA. It is an ideal design if you are planning an LED panel project and want to customize the way the panels are driven.
iCEBreaker V1.0a playing Nyan Cat video from on-board flash (credit: @tnt)
iCEBreaker V1.0a playing a video pattern generated in real time (credit: @tnt)
iCEBreaker V1.0a Rickrolling from a host computer over USB (credit: @tnt)
Micah Elizabeth Scott (a.k.a. Scanlime) created an amazing design in icestudio to drive LED panels.
iCEBreaker V1.0a playing feedback munching square animation (credit @scanlime)
The design is modular and can be visually explored in icestudio. The goal is to create a small, easily modified pixel rendering engine. Micah captured the whole design process on video in multiple eight-hour sessions that are available to watch in their entirety! We highly recommend that you subscribe to Micah’s YouTube channel. She is creating engaging and interesting educational content. With the "iCEBreaker LED Panel Kit," you can follow her adventures from home.
Scanlime’s ledmatrix design in icestudio (left) and screenshot from her live stream (right)
|iCEBreaker||TinyFPGA BX||Tomu FPGA||Lattice ICEstick||UPDuino v2.0||ICE40UP5K Breakout||Alhambra II||ICE40HX8K Breakout|
|Schematics Published?||Yes||Yes||Not Yet||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Design files Published?||Yes||Yes||Not Yet||No||Yes||No||Yes||No|
|Logic Capacity (LUTs)||5280||7680||5280||1280||5280||5280||3520 (7680)||7680|
|Internal RAM (bits)||120k + 1024k||128k||120k + 1024k||64k||120k + 1024k||120k + 1024k||80k||128k|
|USB Interface||FTDI 2232HQ||On FPGA Bootloader||On FPGA Bootloader||FTDI 2232HL||FTDI 232HQ||FTDI 2232HL||FTDI 2232HQ||FTDI 2232HL|
|USB HS FIFO/SPI interface to the FPGA||Yes through Jumper Mod||No||No||No||No||No||No||No|
|USB Serial (UART) interface to the FPGA||Yes||No||No||Yes||No||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|GPIO inline termination resistors||Yes 33 Ohm||No||No||No||No||No||Yes 300 Ohm||No|
|User IOs||27 + 7||41 + 2||4 + 2||18||34||34 + 2||20||90 + 10|
|User Buttons||1 Tact + 3 Tact on Breakoff Pmod||1 CRESET||2 Capacitive||0||0||4 DIP||2 Tact||0|
|User LED||2 + 5 on Breakoff Pmod||1||0||5||1 RGB||1 RGB||8||8|
|Indicator LED||PWR, CDONE||PWR||CDONE, FTDI-TX/RX||PWR, CDONE||PWR, CDONE, FTDI-TX/RX||PWR, CDONE|
|Onboard Clock||12 MHz MEMS Shared with FTDI||16 MHz MEMS||12 MHz MEMS||12 MHz MEMS? Shared with FTDI||12 MHz MEMS? Shared with FTDI||12 MHz MEMS? Shared with FTDI||12 MHz MEMS Shared with FTDI||12 MHz MEMS? Shared with FTDI|
|Flash||128 Mbit QSPI DDR||8 Mbit SPI||16 Mbit SPI||32 Mbit SPI||32 Mbit SPI||32 Mbit SPI||32 Mbit SPI||32 Mbit SPI|
|FPGA Power Delivery|
|Dedicated GND/Power Planes||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||No||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Dedicated FPGA Bypass Capacitors||19||8||9||18||2||19||?||?|
|IO GND Connections||11||6||1||4||3||8||22||20|
|Open Source Toolchain||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
1BitSquared has most of its PCBs manufactured in the US. We order our PCB designs through OSH Park, a PCB fabrication company located in Portland, Oregon, USA. We order our parts through a combination of US and Chinese companies, comparing the prices and shipping times to make the most sensible purchasing decision. After all of the parts are ordered, 1BitSquared assembles all of our hardware in house on our pick-and-place machine.
iCEBreaker V1.0b pre-production on the 1BitSquared pick-and-place machine
iCEBreaker V1.0b pre-production batch
The iCEBreaker community is already creating interesting Pmods, designs and applications such as iPod nano display Pmods, network interface Pmods, and much more. We welcome you to drop in to the iCEBreaker Gitter channel to talk about your ideas and ask questions!
For more detailed and technical discussion of the hardware features, please visit our GitHub iCEBreaker repository.
We are also in the process of setting up a wiki and forum for the iCEBreaker platform. Everyone, backer or not, is welcome there to collect and share information about open source FPGA development.
"Aimed at teachers and students, the iCEBreaker FPGA is built around the Lattice iCE40UP5k FPGA, capable of hosting CPU soft cores such as picorv32, picosoc, and RISC-V."
"iCEBreaker FPGA open source development board makes learning digital logic design easy"
"We have had access to open source toolchains for a little while now, but Piotr’s documentation is the clearest and simplest we’ve seen."
Produced by 1BitSquared in Eugene Oregon, USA.
Sold and shipped by Crowd Supply.
Single Pmod is ideal for simple exercises as well as number indicators for your FPGA project. One is required for WTFpga workshop and you will need two for the iCEBreaker workshop.
Single Pmod is ideal for simple exercises as well as an 8 bit input for your FPGA project. Required for the WTFpga workshop.
Dual Pmod is ideal to add digital video output to your FPGA project. It is as easy to use as an analog VGA output without the need for high speed differential signals and encoding.
Dual Pmod to interface your FPGA project with a HUB75E interface RGB LED Matrix. By default configured for 3.3V signaling but can be switched to 5V signal shifting for those LED Panels that need it.
A tested and documented RGB LED Matrix with easy to use ICN2037 shift registers.
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