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"A major selling point of this board is the PCIe interface. Most FPGA boards with PCIe will cost over a grand, and will only fit in a large desktop computer."
"Everything needed to program and debug the FPGA is on board, and taking into consideration the low price, it is a great alternative for designing PCIe on a low budget without reducing functionality."
NanoEVB and PicoEVB are affordable, open source, development boards which can be used to evaluate and prototype PCI Express designs using a Xilinx Artix 7 FPGA on Windows or Linux hosts. The boards are designed around the Artix 7 (XC7A50T).
While the main intent of NanoEVB and PicoEVB is PCIe design prototyping, it can be used as an integrated part of your laptop (or desktop) computer. Use a board as an encryption co-processor for security, or as a hardware-level encoder/decoder for speedy workflows. It’s your FPGA, design what you like.
|FPGA||Xilinx Artix XC7A50T||Xilinx Artix XC7A50T|
|Form Factor||M.2 (NGFF) 2242, keyed for A and E slots||M.2 (NGFF) 2230, keyed for A and E slots|
|Dimensions||22 x 42 x 3.8 mm||22 x 30 x 3.8 mm|
|Host Interface||PCIe x1 gen 2||PCIe x1 gen 2|
|Host Tools||Vivado 2016, 2017||Vivado 2016, 2017|
|Serial Connection||RS232 connection to the FPGA via FTDI FT2232||RS232 connection to the FPGA via FTDI FT2232|
|Spare Debug UART||Yes||No|
|External Interface||4 digital channels OR 1 analog (differential) and 2 digital, OR 2 analog (differential)||No|
The board schematics in their final form (PDFs) will be published under a permissive license. In additon, major software components are open source:
Files are being published in the project GitHub repository.
NanoEVB high-level schematic
PicoEVB high-level schematic
Current FPGA development boards are large. Almost all development kits require a desktop PC, or are designed to sit on a lab bench. NanoEVB aims to change this — the entire development kit fits inside a laptop! In addition, the JTAG cable is built-in, no external cables needed- just plug it into a PCIe slot and go.
Furthermore, to explore PCIe designs, currently you need to spend over $1,000. NanoEVB and PicoEVB have PCIe connectivity to the host computer, and as such, you can design PCIe-based solutions and explore Xilinx’s IP for PCIe solutions without spending a grand and without taking up a ton of space.
The manufacturing process for NanoEVB and PicoEVB is pretty straightforward:
The designs have been prototyped; multiple boards and iterations have been built and tested. This mitigates a lot of risk. The remaining risk is in manufacturing execution:
These are generally the same issues that may occur with any PCBA fabrication, and any that crop up should be surmountable.