"Targeting makers and hardware designers... The board can be programmed with Efinity IDE with Verilog HDL and runs on Windows and Linux (Ubuntu/Red Hat Enterprise/CentOS) operating systems."
"It’s the perfect solution for manufacturers to prototype their projects or digital design students to learn FPGA development using the new Efinix platform quickly."
"A FireAnt se mostra uma excelente plataforma para estudos, testes e até mesmo aplicações finais."
"ça fait du bien de voir de nouveaux acteurs dans le domaine des FPGA «physique»."
FireAnt is the first third-party development board for the Efinix Trion product family. It provides an easy-to-use development platform for FPGA makers and hobbyists. Powered by the Efinix Trion T8, FireAnt is ready to use with just a PC and no extra components required. The breadboard- friendly design allows for fast application deployment with sensors, peripherals, or other interfaces. It’s the perfect solution for manufacturers to prototype their projects or digital design students to learn FPGA development using the new Efinix platform quickly. The power/performance/size advantages of the Trion T8 FPGA also make it ideal for edge IoT applications.
An out-of-box demo firmware is pre-loaded onto FireAnt. The firmware is actually a 4-bit counter with configurable counting speed. Press BTN1 to accelerate, while BTN2 is to decelerate. Besides validating the board peripheries (PLL, buttons and LEDs) are working, the out-of-box demo can give insight into what an HDL looks like when you check out the quick start guide. Please see the GIF animation demo below:
The Efinity Software is a user-friendly IDE for development with the Trion FPGA. It provides a complete tool flow throughout the whole RTL development process, from synthesis, place-and-route (PNR), to timing analysis and bitstream generation. The tool also comes with a command-line interface (CLI) and Tcl command console. It supports Verilog and VHDL and is available on Windows and Linux (Ubuntu/Red Hat Enterprise/CentOS) platforms.
For a tutorial on using Efinity Software and other resource, source code, etc., please visit our Github pages for more detail. For a PDF of the full board schematic see here: https://github.com/xips-tech/FireAnt/raw/master/FireAnt_Schematic.pdf.
1. Efinity Trion T8F81C2 FPGA
2. FTDI FT232HQ UART/FIFO IC
3. Winbond W25Q80DV Serial NOR Flash
4. 3.3 V LDO regulator
5. Micro USB female connector
6. Button: CRESET
11. LED1, LED2, LED3, LED4
FireAnt is available with the headers pre-soldered or left unsoldered.
Each FireAnt consists of the main board and two 20-pin, 2.54mm gold-plated headers (pre-soldered or unsoldered) packed in an anti-static bag. See package diagram below:
Please note that we currently don’t support mixed variant ordering for Double Pack and Bundle-of-5.
|Internal RAM (kbits)||128||1152||128||1152|
|User IO Count||36||0||41||34|
|LED (Configurable)||6 (4)||1 (RGB x1)||2 (2)||4 (2)|
|Button (Configurable)||3 (2)||-||1 (0)||1 (1)|
|Price||$32 USD||$49 USD||$38 USD||$69 USD|
We built a real-time Sobel filter and posterizing filter demonstration. (Credit to Efinix Inc Hong Kong Team). The system is capturing video from camera module OV5640 with 720p resolution. The FireAnt processes all captured data and exports it to the monitor via VGA 666 module. It is powered by micro USB connection associated with FireAnt and consumes around 250mA. The demo design consists of 5 modes that illustrate the effect of each filter. They include the following filters:
The RTL Design utilizes 3086 logic elements counts (41.8%), dedicating 18 memory blocks (75%) and 0 multipliers (0%). A direct instruction with connection diagram and source code will be disclosed soon.
Learn more about the Sobel demo in this update.
The idea for FireAnt first came in January 2019, when we identified a need for a more easy-to-use Trion T8 development kit. In March, 2019 we finalized the schematic and PCB layout, and started to prepared the BOM. Components were sourced, and we received the first prototype in May - it passed the functional test and our design was validated! If the campaign goes well, we’ll begin production of 1,000 units in the middle of July. Manufacturing and QC testing is estimated to take one month, after which the FireAnts will be sent to Crowd Supply’s warehouse for processing and distribution to backers. The first batch is expected to start shipping in September 2019.
FireAnt FPGA was designed by XIPS Technology, Hong Kong, with prototyping, manufacturing and testing with KING SUN PCB TECHNOLOGY CO., LIMITED in PRC. Because the package size of Trion T8 is as tiny as BGA81 (5x5 mm, 0.5 mm pitched), we’ve had a hard time finding PCB factories that are capable of fabricating only tens of such dense PCBs in low cost. KING SUN is one of our long-term PCB manufacturing partners - and they produce high quality, robust, and fully tested PCB boards. They have discussed with our engineer and given us suggestions on how to improve the layout for more convenient and more economic fabrication.
KING SUN PCB will be our main manufacturer, and they’ll complete the following:
1. Large volume PCB fabrication
2. Optical inspection 100% flying-probe test for all blank PCBs
3. PCB assembly
4. Optical inspection and 100% functional test for all assembled PCB
5. Further processing (header soldering) for pre-soldered version
6. Package and bulk-packing
The entire manufacturing processes, especially the functional testing, will be closely monitored by XIPS.
The major component of FireAnt is the Efinix Trion T8F81C FPGA. It is directly supplied by Efinix Inc. To minimize the Bill-Of-Material (BOM) cost of other components, we are comparing quotations from Arrow, Mouser, and a trusted vendor in PRC so that we have at least three sourcing options.
When the campaign starts, we will design the test-jig and code design for functional testing. The test code inspects the functions and connectivity of all module peripheries such as GPIO(s), buttons, LEDs, oscillators, and phase lock loops. The whole test takes under 5 seconds per device.
The first manufacturing batch of FireAnts will be 1000 units. When the Crowd Supply campaign ends, we will know the official order quantity and will decide if we need to produce more units. The manufacturing process as well as the component purchasing will begin as soon as we have an idea of the order quantities. Fabrication takes around two weeks to finish. All parts will be delivered to the factory for assembling; then the assembly process takes around 1.5 weeks.
During fabrication, the routing of PCB has a potential risk of unwanted shorting/opening, as the package and pitch of the Trion T8 is extremely small. This causes an increase of defected rate. Therefore, ensuring passing flying-probe test is essential before proceeding to next step. Besides, we would need to procure extra blank PCBs in case of low fabrication yield.
Since there is a possibility of long lead time or shortage for some of components, we will check the stock and availability for all components in BOM list from time to time. In case of a shortage, a fully compatible part will be found as a replacement. For a major component like the T8F81C, we’ve made arrangements to reserve a certain quantity of units for this campaign.
Mass production, testing, and packaging will happen in PRC and be closely supervised by XIPS. Bulk goods will then be delivered to Portland, Oregon, USA for distribution. All orders will be distributed using Crowd Supply’s fulfillment services.
US domestic orders will be shipped free of charge with USPS First Class. For international orders, there will be a surcharge. For further information about ordering, please refer to The Crowd Supply Guide: Ordering, Paying, Shipping: The Details.
Datasheets, user guides, and other resources can be found on Efinix Support Center. Each FireAnt owner will be provided a user account to Sign in to Efinix Support for downloading Efinity Software, design examples, and access to the forum. The login has Forget Password support if the user enters the wrong password. If you encounter any login issue, please contact email@example.com.
FireAnt is a hands-on FPGA learning/development platform, yet it is only the beginning. Like the most well-known development kits such as Arduino, Raspbian Pi, we will be publishing daughter boards and modules (Shields) to extend our platform. Currently, we plan to build the first daughter board for audio processing in 2019 S3-S4.
Device learning has become a hot topic in recent years. This has led to a demand for more LUTs in smaller FPGAs. Efinix Inc. has released the Trion Series T8, T13, and T20, and they are bringing out more powerful models (with advance features such as LVDS, Advance PLL, MIPI, etc) in the future. XIPS will follow their lead to develop higher LUTs count based FPGA development boards.