Arrow Chameleon96 Arm + Cyclone V FPGA Board Sold for $32 (Promo)

First introduced in 2017, Arrow Chameleon96 96Boards SBC comes with an Intel / Altera Cyclone V SE SoC featuring a dual-core Arm Cortex A9 processor clocked at up to 800 MHz and FPGA fabric with 110K Logic Elements.

It used to sell for $129, but Arrow & appears to have a promotion now where the Novtech board sells for just $31.34 with free shipping[Update: all available boards are gone, and the product is now out of stock]. It looks like a good opportunity for people interested in playing around with an Arm Linux FPGA platform.

Here’s a reminder of Chameleon96 board specifications which the company shamelessly copied from CNX Software:

  • SoC – Intel PSG / Altera Cyclone V SE 5CSEBA6U19I7N with a dual-core ARM Cortex A9 processor @ up to 800 MHz and FPGA fabric with 110K Logic Elements
  • Chips, Ports, and Features connected to FPGA:
    • Integrated USB-Blaster II JTAG cable
    • Configuration sources: SD Card, JTAG
    • HDMI display output
    • WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n + Bluetooth 4.1 module interface
  • Chips, Ports & Features connected to ARM system (HPS)
    • 512MB DDR3 SDRAM (16-bit data bus)
    • 2x USB 2.0 host ports, 1x micro USB OTG port
    • Micro SD card interface
    • Serial UART
    • User LEDs
    • Warm reset button
  • Expansion Connectors
    • 2x 20-pin Low-speed expansion connector with UART, SPI, I2C, I2S, GPIO connectivity
    • 2x 30 High-speed expansion connector with USB 2.0 Host, SPI, I2C, GPIO, and MIPI CSI-2 connectivity
  • Debugging – 3-pin UART connector
  • Misc – User LEDs, power button, reset button
  • Power Supply – 12V DC (8~18V supports as per 96Boards CE specifications)
  • Dimensions – 85 x 54 mm

You’ll find information to get started and resources like the Linux image on 96boards website. All documentation that I could find is dated 2017, so don’t expect to have a recent U-boot and/or Linux kernel with the board. But if all you plan to do is to learn a bit more about FPGA development it should not matter that much.

There are still 173 pieces for sale at the time of writing. It could well be Arrow getting rid of old stock, and the board may not be available after that.

Thanks to Fran for the tip.

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19 Replies to “Arrow Chameleon96 Arm + Cyclone V FPGA Board Sold for $32 (Promo)”

    1. Still cheaper to do that than the original price which would be what you’d shell out for a Cyclone V FPGA eval board anyhow…

  1. I was ordering one when I realized It’s currently showing an insane price of $184.71 for one(1) single board with a free shipping. It’s not probably even worth to pay $31.34 for it.
    I can buy a Lattepanda Delta 432 SBC board for $188
    Good luck selling the remaining 275 boards at $184.71

    1. If the price is that high, and they have 275 “boards”. that mean you were somehow redirected to the “Chameleon96 Kit” page instead of the “Chaneleon96” page. The kit has extra accessories, and they have not discounted it yet.

    2. The drawback to the LattePanda is that it’s not got an FPGA fabric. If you’re needing the one, the lack of it…well…

  2. It *is* free.
    You need to join “Arrow Perks” (free), then make sure you order $50+.
    So if I needed to pay ~$80 for one item, I ended up paying ~$63 for *two* items.

  3. Looks like it’s sold out now.

    I’m not very familiar with the CycloneV SE, does anyone know if I/O can be remapped between the HPS and the Programmable Logic, or whatever it calls the ARM and the FPGA?

    Because if not, the block diagram in the product brochure (https://www.novtech.com/assets/docs/chameleon96-product-brief_v3.pdf) looks like the PL doesn’t have any access to the outside world broken out except for 2x MIPI-CSI lanes on one of the connectors (it looks like this board was also sold as the Chameleon96-Vision board with a camera), lines to an HDMI buffer (TX-only), and an SDIO connection to the WiFi module. Still could be fun for computation/acceleration stuff, I suppose.

    1. I was able to get one board at promoted price. And, of course, before actually digging for some technical info on it. Compulsive buying…? Yes !

      Indeed, after a first look at the schematic of the board, all of the accessible I/O are connected to the HPS (the ARM SOC) beside the few ones you were citing in your message. And no, according to my quick reading of the Cyclone V HW docs, no possible remapping of I/O between the HPS and the FPGA parts.

      I find it a bit odd for an FPGA board not to make the FPGA I/O available on a connector. This is a bit disappointing, and far different from the DE10-nano board (for example). No ‘mister’ on the Chamaleon96 I fear…

      But, as you wrote, this is still an amazing board (at this price point !) to tinker with FPGA designs. And perfect to play with RISC-V cores for example.

    1. On Ebay there’s a ton of ‘Antminer S9 Control Board’ offerings, which are around $15 in the US (but maybe the price is rising — last week there was a $12 shipped option and several $15s, now I only see one $15 option). I just received one a couple of days ago, and it also has a ZYNQ XC7Z010, paired with 1GB (8Gb) of DDR3 ram (but I’ve seen references to smaller sizes, so maybe it’s a bit of a luck-of-the-draw) and a ton of 2×9 2mm headers (not all populated, and I think there might only be a few signals per-header based on the 5 or so test points near each header on the back of the board), a labelled UART header (with a 3V3 level translator, even), and a 2×7 2mm-pitch header which is probably the JTAG. I’ve had less success finding a schematic, but there’s some information out there on pin assignments: https://github.com/braiins/braiins/blob/bos-devel/open/hw/zynq-io-am1-s9/design/src/constrs/pin_assignment_xc7z010.tcl

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