PulseRain Technology
FPGA Boards

PulseRain M10

The power of FPGA meets the simplicity of Arduino.

$2,965 raised

of $1 goal

Not Available
Jan 13 2018
funded on

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The PulseRain M10 is an FPGA dev board. But unlike standard dev boards, the M10 takes a distinctive technical approach by embedding an open source soft MCU core (96 MHz) in an Intel/Altera MAX10 FPGA, while offering an Arduino-compatible software interface and form factor. It also features onboard resources like a voice CODEC, microSD socket, SRAM, onchip ADC, TSD (Temperature Sensor Diode) and dual IO voltages. On top of that, the whole design is 100% open, including the PCB design, the System Verilog code for the FPGA, and the software.

In a bid to dazzle the audience, here is a quick demo of the M10 board used to make a home automation system controlled by DTMF (Dual Tone Multi-Frequency)

As the video shows, the M10 board offers the following major capabilities:

Push the Boundary between Hardware and Software

The past ten years have witnessed FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array) technology making its way into embedded systems, thanks to the relentless breakthrough of semiconductor processes. Since an FPGA is programmable hardware by definition, the boundary between hardware and software has started to blur. With FPGAs in the picture, designers have more leeway to shift workloads between FPGA hardware and software, as both can be modified without a touch of the soldering iron.

And that’s where PulseRain M10 comes into play, a FPGA board that has a soft-core MCU and a rich set of peripherals, with 100% open hardware and software!

With the M10, the hardware is as programmable as the software. The software is no longer fettered by the once carved-in-stone hardware, and you are free to push the boundary between the two.

The Hardware of M10

The M10 board has the following major components: (The packages of these components has been carefully chosen to avoid BGA or QFN packages.)

The Software of M10

The M10 features an Arduino compatible software interface:

Who Needs It and Why?

Just like Arduino, the M10 can serve as a core module to work with other Arduino shields. However, the M10 is much more flexibile in this regard, thanks to the soft-core MCU in FPGA. Its rich set of peripherals also makes the M10 more versatile and less dependent on external shields.

The M10 comes in handy for makers, FPGA designers, and embedded system engineers. It is also a good fit for educators teach both microcontroller and digital design.

Use Cases

As an FPGA Dev Board

The M10 is an FPGA dev board to begin with. So it can do anything that regular FPGA boards can do. And the good part is that you don’t need a JTAG cable to download the FPGA image (bistream). The M10 comes with PulseRain High Speed Configuration Solution for MAX10, and the FPGA image (bitstream) can be programmed through the Micro USB port.

As a Training Board for FPGA and Microcontroller Educators

For educators who teach both FPGA (digital design) and microcontroller coding, the M10 can serve both purposes, as it is a soft-core microcontroller inside an FPGA. The 100% open software and hardware combined with the Arduino-compatible software interface makes the learning curve less deep.

As a Replacement for Arduino UNO

For FPGA hackers and makers, the M10 board can be a good replacement for Arduino UNO, with the extra benefit of flexibility and ability to customize. The following are two good examples:

The M10 is good at voice applications. In particular, it works well for DTMF-based (Dual Tone Multi-Frequency) control, as the video at the beginning part of this page can attest. It can also be easily turned into a voice recorder, as it has all the necessary hardware.

The M10’s soft-core MCU runs at 96 MHz, which surpasses most standalone MCUs in its category. Its customizable hardware also makes it a lot easier to integrate with other shields, particularly the popular ESP8266 Wi-Fi Controller. The ESP8266 needs to be controlled by a UART. The Arduino UNO Rev3 has to use a software-emulated UART to work with ESP8266, at a limited baud rate of 9600 bps. But with M10’s high speed MCU and a second hardware UART (921600 bps), working with ESP8266 becomes more straightforward, with extra CPU cycles for more tasks. Want proof? The following is a demonstration of the M10 and ESP8266 working to make a Wi-Fi-controlled Lego monster truck.

Features & Specifications


EmbeddedMicro MojoAlorium XLR8PulseRain M10
FPGASpartan 6 XC6SLX9MAX10 10M08SAU169C8GMAX10 10M08SAE144C8G
Soft Core MCUN/AATMega328 ClonePulseRain FP51-1T (Enhanced 1T 8051)
Is the MCU Core Open Source?N/ANoYes
MCU Clock RateUnknown32 MHz 96 MHz
Board Package for Arduino IDEN/AYes Yes
Standalone Utility for ConfigurationYes NoYes
Additional SRAMNoNo1 Mbit (128 KB)
voice CODECNoNoYes
onboard microphone / SpeakJackNoNoYes
DTMF DecoderNoNoYes
microSD SupportNoNoYes s
Arduino Compatible Form FactorNoYes Yes
Dual IO Voltage (3.3 V / 5 V)No5 V In/3.3 V Out Yes
Host InterfaceMicro USBMini USBMicro USB

Manufacturing Plan

At this point, the M10 board has completed its pilot run successfully with our contract manufacturer and a small batch has thus been produced.

For high volume production, we expect the component sourcing, PCB fabrication, and assembly will all be carried out by the same contract manufacturer. But the final FPGA programming and ATP (Acceptance Test Procedure) will be done in our own facility. The ATP document can be found in https://github.com/PulseRain/M10_PCB/raw/master/docs/M10_ATP.pdf

Shipping & Fulfillment

The early bird units are expected to ship by 01/31/2018, with the rest of the units expected to ship by 03/28/2018.

Fulfillment of the M10 board will be handled by Crowd Supply, and will ship from their Portland, OR warehouse.

For those who back the M10 x 4 option, the free book will be shipped directly from the publisher.

More information on logistics can be found in the Crowd Supply Guide.

The international shipping fee is based on the quote we received from the couriers, with insurance included.

Risks & Challenges

The M10 has a BOM of 47 lines. The biggest potential risk is component sourcing as volume increases. To reduce this risk, the BOM is being closely monitored through "findchips.com". Backup BOMs can be readily produced for some passive components if needed.

Design Resources

Documents and Repositories

PCB SchematicPCB Design Files
Quick Start GuideHardware Manual
MCU datasheetMCU Technical Reference Manual
Repository for FPGAArduino IDE package
M10 High Speed Configuration TRM
RTL Repository for M10 High Speed ConfigurationRepository for M10 High Speed Config Utility
TRM for I2CM10I2C Library
TRM for microSDM10SD Library
TRM for voice CODECM10CODEC Library
TRM for DTMFM10DTMF Library
TRM for SRAMM10SRAM Library
TRM for PWMM10PWM Library
TRM for UARTM10SerialAUX Library
TRM for ADCM10ADC Library
M10ESP8266 Library


Users are more than welcome to post their questions and suggestions at http://forum.pulserain.com.

More information can also be found on http://m10.pulserain.com.

Video Tutorial (How to Setup the M10 Board for the First Time)

In the Press


"La tarjeta PulseRain M10 de PulseRain Technology... es una placa de desarrollo FPGA de diseño abierto que integra un núcleo MCU funcionando a 96 MHz, tomando con ello un enfoque técnico distintivo."


"It’s now possible to embed a soft-core MCU into an FPGA rather than using a hard-core ASIC MCU and here is where PulseRain comes into play with an open source design down to the silicon level."

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Produced by PulseRain Technology in San Diego, CA.

Sold and shipped by Crowd Supply.

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M10 x 1

One M10 board kit. The package includes standoffs (3/8 in), screws, washers, a micro Micro USB cable, and a copy of the Quick Start Guide.

$85 $8 US Shipping / $18 Worldwide

M10 x 2

Two M10 board kits. Each kit includes standoffs (3/8 in), screws, washers, and a Micro USB cable. A copy of the Quick Start Guide is also included in the package.

$165 $8 US Shipping / $18 Worldwide

M10 x 4, plus a free book for "Building Embedded Systems"

Four M10 board kits, plus a free copy (soft cover) of "Building Embedded Systems - Programmable Hardware". Each kit includes standoffs (3/8 in), screws, washers, and a Micro USB cable. A copy of the Quick Start Guide is also included in the package. The book is authored by the cheif designer of the M10 board. This book is the author's brain dump of what he has picked up over the past 15+ years of engineering. Some of this knowledge was learned the hard way, with insomnia and hair loss.

$325 $8 US Shipping / $18 Worldwide

Early Bird M10

One M10 board kit at $10 off the regular campaign price, limited offer only! The package includes standoffs (3/8 in), screws, washers, a micro Micro USB cable, and a copy of the Quick Start Guide.

$75 $8 US Shipping / $18 Worldwide

About the Team

PulseRain Technology

San Diego, CA  ·   pulserain.com

Engineering is not a spectator sport! We strive to provide high quality IP cores as well as embedded system designs for a wide variety of markets. Our craftsmanship, savvy industrial experiences, and engineering passion are what's driving our products to success.

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