$299 Microsemi SmartFusion2 Starter Kit (Cortex M3 + FPGA)

Microsemi SmartFusion2 SoC family combines an ARM Cortex-M3 Core @ 166 Mhz and FPGA Fabric with up to 12M Gates, and comes with up to 512 KB eNVM and 64 KB eSRAM, 1 CAN A & B interface, 1 GbE port, 1 USB 2.0 OTG, and diverse serial interface. Last year I received Emcraft SmartFusion Starter Kit using the first generation of the starter kit, and Microsemi (previously known as Actel) and Emcraft Systems have recently announced the second generation with the SmartFusion2 Starter Kit.

SmartFusion2 Starter Kit
SmartFusion2 Starter Kit

The main hardware features include:

  • SmartFusion2 SoC FPGA in FG896 package (M2S050T-FG896ES) with 256KB eNVM, 64KB SRAM,  and 48,672 logic modules.
  • JTAG interface for programming of the SmartFusion2 device
  • 10/100 Ethernet interface and RJ-45 connector
  • USB OTG interface and mini-USB connector
  • USB based Wi-Fi Module
  • 64MB LPDDR, 16MB SPI flash
  • User push-button connected to GPIO on the SOM
  • Two user-controlled LEDs connected to GPIO on the SOM
  • Breadboard area available for GPIO or FPGA I/O connection
  • Power good LED indicating presence of the +3.3 V SOM power
  • Reset push button, Reset-out LED
  • On-module clocks
  • Watchdog Timer (WDT)
  • Serial console interface at UART CMOS levels
  • Low power mode with fast wake-up times
  • Depending on the design, can provide necessary power supply voltages (+5 V, +3.3 V, +1.5 V for power-optimized SOM operation) from external sources through dedicated pads on the breadboard.

The company can provide Emcraft uClinux BSP to run Linux on the device, or Libero SoC software toolset for those who want/need to run RTOS (FreeRTOS, SAFERTOS and Micrium uc/OS-III), or bare metal applications on the kit. Emcraft has just released a demo for those who want to try out the later. Microsemi also provides getting started guides, hardware manuals, hardware design files (schematics and BoM) for the baseboard, and application notes on SmartFusion2 Starter Kit page.

This development kit (SF2-STARTER-KIT-ES) includes M2S-SOM SmartFusion2 system-on-module, SOM-BSB-EXT SmartFusion2 baseboard, a FlashPro4 JTAG programmer, a USB 2.0 A male to mini-B Y-cable for UART/power interface (up to 1A) to PC, a USB 2.0 A male to mini-B cable for connection of SmartFusion2 to PC in USB device (“gadget”) mode, a Mini-B to USB 2.0 A female cable for connection of USB devices to SmartFusion2, an Ethernet cable, a USB WiFi module, and a leather case. It can be bought for $299 online via Avnet Memec and Digi-Key, or via Microsemi’s local distributors.

Microsemi and Emcraft recently organized a “SmartFusion2 Starter Kit” webinar where they gave an overview of SmartFusion2 SoC and the starter kit, and demoed USB Wi-Fi, USB OTG, uClinux development and 0.5 second boot to uClinux prompt. If you are interested, you can now watch the webinar recording (The webcast does not work in Linux, only Windows).

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2 Replies to “$299 Microsemi SmartFusion2 Starter Kit (Cortex M3 + FPGA)”

  1. @iccctv
    Yep, this kit did not make it here because of the price, but it’s quite unique as this MCU kit features an FPGA and runs uCLinux.
    But when you look at the price of the full development kit ($1800), then the starter kit looks like a bargain.

    Alternatively, there’s the previous Smartfusion starter kit, also Cortex M3 but will lower clock, and an FPGA with less logic cells that sells for $176 (price seems to have increased since last year). http://store.emcraft.com/ProductDetails.asp?ProductCode=710

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