May 18, 2023
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Hi to all and thank you for subscribing to the ULX4M project!
ULX4M Versions & Naming
For starters, we’d like to clear up our ULX4M naming conventions. We have two versions, ULX4M-LS and ULX4M-LD:
ULX4M-LS uses Lattice SDRAM and is currently on version v.0.0.3:
ULX4M-LD uses Lattice DDR3 and is currently on version v.0.0.2:
Expansion Boards & Accessories
We have already tested many I/O boards. In addition to the Waveshare board, ULX4M will also work on a Raspberry Pi I/O board:
ULX4M works with the RetroFlag case, as well:
We have also checked Piunora from Diodes Delight, TOFU from Oratek, and few other boards and everything works as expected.
A few ULX4M boards have been sent to community members for evaluation and we plan to send out a few more once we launch the campaign, just to make sure everything works as expected.
We are planning to offer two products during the campaign:
- ULX4M-LS - ECP5 12F with 32 MB of SDRAM
- ULX4M-LD - SUM85F with has SerDes support and 1 GB of DDR3
What is Working Now
- We have Linux fully working on both boards: Litex Linux on the LD version and Litex and SaxonSox on the LS version
- Thanks to Miguel (HDL4FPGA), DDR3 is now working at highest speed possible with ECP5 (400MHz) according to our tests.
- With SaxonSoc on the LS version, we have USB HUB, Ethernet, SDCARD, GPDI (DVI video output), and GPIOs available. That allows you to boot Linux with a USB mouse and keyboard support with boot picture shown on the frame buffer (just as you would boot any other Linux system).
What We Are Working On
- The ethernet chip is running slightly warm (this may be normal, but it could require some small changes such as different resistor values)
- As we do not have an external oscillator on the ethernet chip, we will need pull-down resistors on both LEDs that are not currently present
- The ethernet signal lines are missing 75 ohm resistors
- The smaller size SDRAM is missing a silkscreen frame
- ULX4M-LD is currently on version v.0.0.2
- 1 GB ethernet chips are still unavailable, so we have two options, which we'll have to decide on before launching the campaign:
- The first option is to wait a little while longer and hope 1 GB chips become available
- The second option is to switch to the same 100-Mbit chip we are using on the LS version
- The Hirose connectors are missing a silkscreen frame on both boards. Without it, connectors can be unstable
- DSI is connected but not confirmed working
- CSI: we have pictures from both cameras, but there is still lot of work to get everything right
- Some components are on the edge of the boards; we intend to move them closer to the center
- While cleaning up the boards, we accidentally removed an FPGA pin connection to the PROGRAMN line. Without that connection we cannot exit the boot-loader or jump back in, so we will need to add it back
- Neither board is yet CE or UKCA complaint, so we still need to do the necessary testing to ensure that we can ship both boards to the EU and the UK
If you have additional suggestions, please open a GitHub issue or contact us at email@example.com
Component Sourcing & Manufacturing
In other news, ECP5 parts are slowly coming into stock. Prices are still high, though, so sourcing FPGAs may still be a challenge. We are also buying parts as much as we can and filling stock, especially parts that are also used on ULX3S, like the TI switcher or Murata coils. Production will be done by D&M as they already did great work with the ULX3S. We already have some test boards on panels, and those are looking great:
From time to time, we post about our progress on our website, so make sure you visit the Intergalaktik news section for the latest info.
We are grateful to NLnet for supporting our work in KiCad and Blender. Thanks to them, all of our work is open source.
Launching the Campaign
We have a bit more paperwork to do and a product video to produce before we can launch our crowdfunding campaign, but we are excited to go live in the next few months! Please share the news about ULX4M with your friends and colleagues as we prepare our campaign for launch.
Wishing you all the best!
The ULX4M team