Crowd Supply is set to launch a project on µLab Kiwi and Kiwi Lite soon. µLab Kiwi and Kiwi Lite are compact FPGA development boards. As we know, programming an FPGA is a difficult job and at times it is easier to code some functions on microcontrollers. These boards give one flexibility to code a part of the programming on FPGA and some part on microcontroller (Arduino IDE on ESP32). “This provides the unique ability to develop your projects with the familiar ESP32-S2-WROVER (ESP32), then move on to the FPGA for the more complicated tasks.”
Designed for beginners, students and developers, the Kiwi range consists of two boards µLab Kiwi and Kiwi Lite. Besides, µLab Kiwi features an ESP32 while Kiwi Lite is a low cost, equally powerful board with no ESP32.
µLab Kiwi features the ESP32 which is based on Altera MAX10 FPGA. This Intel’s FPGA is built on TSMC 55nm embedded NOR flash technology and has integrated features such as analogue-to-digital converters (ADCs) and dual configuration flash. Also, the ESP32-S2-WROVER is compatible with Arduino IDE allowing one to code on FPGA and microcontroller at the same time. The board uses an onboard USB Blaster (JTAG Programmer) for downloading configuration data and programming data. Furthermore, this development board utilizes USB-UART Bridge for ESP32-S2 (CP2104) to provide UART connectivity. Other onboard features include a 50 MHz clock oscillator, eight LEDs, four slide switches and two buttons. In addition, the development board has three 7 segments for display purposes.
The board uses a 40 pin FPGA GPIO header for interfacing with various shields such as the Terasic shields. Next, there’s an ESP32 GPIO header and four GPIOs between FPGA and the ESP32. These four GPIOs are utilized for internal connections such as SPI, UART and I2C. All these features are included in a compact design sized 80 x 50 mm.
“The µLab Kiwi Lite is similar to the Kiwi, and is just as useful, without the ESP32 and other peripherals. It features the same FPGA and USB Blaster, and is easy to use with the provided software and tutorials.”
Kiwi features Altera MAX10 FPGA and has an onboard USB Blaster used for downloading configuration data and programming data. Apart from this, the low-cost board consists of a 50 MHz clock oscillator, eight LEDs and two buttons. The board uses a 40 pin FPGA GPIO header for interfacing with various shields. These GPIOs are compatible with Terasic shields. In addition, there are three 12 pin PMOD connectors compatible with a wide range of PMOD shields. This makes interfacing Kiwi Lite with various sensors easy. It also provides a platform for plug and play solution for testing the sensors.
The producer has announced to provide the tutorials and open-source code for the Kiwi range. Hence, anyone can view them and start making projects with these FPGA development boards. While working with FPGA and Hardware Descriptive Languages, one of the critical parts of programming is defining GPIO pins. Kiwi uses µLab Project Generator software that defines all pins automatically. The software also creates project files and provides a sample Verilog file, making programming much simpler.
One can back this project at Crowd Supply after its launch so it can receive funding for further developments. The development boards are open source and come with tutorial guides. The projects that can be carried out using these boards are making an LED blink, creating a Wi-Fi-enabled logic analyzer, a VGA driver, a CPU and more. More details are available on the official product page. The source for all technical specifications and pictures is the product page.
Sanskriti Sawant is a student of Electronics and Telecommunication engineering. She is passionate about Computer architecture, VLSI and plans to major in them. She is working on HDL languages and FPGA’s.