A powerful, open source FPGA development board for the heart of your next project

Mar 17, 2019

Project update 1 of 1

New Prototypes and Updated Variants

There’s been a lot of exciting activity with the TinyFPGA EX in recent months and I would like to summarize recent progress, the current state of development, and future plans. Read the full update to catch up on all the latest developments!

New Prototypes

New prototype PCBs came back from PCBWay. Despite an issue with the soldermask caused by the KiCad export, they were a breeze to assemble and get up and running!

There were a number of issues with the previous prototypes that needed to be fixed along with some component changes to be tested out. The major changes:

I’ve assembled the latest prototypes by hand and have enlisted the help of some members of the community to assemble even more. These early prototypes will go out to more folks to build early projects and demos to put the design through its paces.

Updated Variants

Along with fixing some bugs in the previous batch of prototypes, some new features have been added and changes have been made to the specs of the variants. The major changes:

Speed Grade668
Vcore1.1 V1.1 V1.2 V
Programming InterfaceUSB or JTAGUSB or JTAGUSB or JTAG
Logic Cells12K44K84K
Distributed RAM97 KBit351 KBit669 KBit
18 x 18 Multipliers2872156
Block RAM576 KBit1944 KBit3744 KBit
Hyper RAM64 MBit64 MBit128 MBit
User Flash112 MBit112 MBit112 MBit
MicroSD Card Slot111
Phase Lock Loops244
Delay Lock Loops244
User IO Pins (dedicated + shared)55 + 755 + 755 + 7
High Speed 5 Gbit SERDES002
High Precision 200 MHz Ref. Clock001

Open Source Tools

Project Trellis has made excellent progress in supporting the FPGAs used in the TinyFPGA EX series. All of the major features of the FPGA are now supported, including the SERDES! The first stable release was made on March 6th, 2019.

The open source tools are moving at a fantastic pace and already support real-world designs on these larger FPGAs. For example, the USB bootloader can now be built using Yosys, Project Trellis, and NextPNR.

Next Steps

There are a number of things that need to happen before the campaign can be launched:

  1. The PCB layout and power delivery network for the SERDES on the EX85-5G needs to be proven. I am working with some contacts to help make this happen.
  2. The HyperRAM needs to be brought up with a known working design.
  3. Large, power-hungry designs need to be tested to stress the power delivery network.
  4. Testing strategy needs to be finalized.
  5. Need more prototypes built to send out to testers and early reviewers.

I have a plan for each of these items. I’ll be sending out an update in a month with an updated status. I’m excited to get this project moving faster and out to makers all over the world! The TinyFPGA EX is a fantastic FPGA board and will enable many new projects!

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