FPGA Meets Breadboard with Mercury 2 Xilinx Artix-7 FPGA Development Board

While we now come across more and more FPGA development boards, very few are designed to be inserted into a breadboard. We’ve previously covered TinyFPGA BX, Fipsy, and QuickFeather FPGA breadboard-friendly boards.

All those boards are however based on entry-level FPGAs like Lattice Semi ICE40 or QuickLogic EOS S3, and if you’d like a more powerful FPGA board that fits into a breadboard, MicroNova Mercury 2 development board may meet your requirements with a Xilinx Artix-7 FPGA.

FPGA Meets Breadboard - Mercury-2 Development BoardMicroNova Mercury 2 specifications:

  • FPGA – Xilinx Artix-7A FPGA (XC7A35T) with 33,280 logic cells or XC7A100T with 101,440 logic cells
  • System Memory – 4 Mbit (512K x 8-bit) asynchronous SRAM
  • Storage – 32 Mbit SPI flash for configuration & user data
  • Networking – On-board Microchip LAN8720A 10/100M Ethernet PHY
  • USB – Dual-channel high-speed USB 2.0 micro USB port (ch A for config, ch B for user)
  • 2x 32-pin headers
    • Fast Ethernet signals
    • 8-channel, 200 KSPS, 10-bit ADC via Microchip MCP-3008
    • 2-channel, 225 kHz, 10-bit DAC via Microchip MCP-4812
    • 40x 5-volt tolerant IO pins
    • 10x FPGA-direct high-speed IO pins
  • Debugging – 6-pin Expansion header for JTAG interface, FTDI chip for micro USB debugging/programming
  • Misc – 3x User LEDs
  • Power Supply – 5V from the micro USB port or external 4.5V – 5.5V power source
  • Dimensions – 76.2 x 25.4 mm

Breaboard-friendly FPGA Board

Mercury 2 Block Diagram
Block Diagram

The Mercury 2 board can be programmed with the Xilinx Vivado design suite, and the resulting bitstream can be flashed to the board over USB using mercury2_prog command-line programming utility aka Mercury 2 Programmer. You’ll find schematics and other documentation on MicroNova website.

Mercury Baseboard

If you don’t feel like connecting the board to a breadboard and deal with all the required wiring, the company also provides the Mercury baseboard that works with the older Spartan-3A based Mercury board and the new Mercury 2 Artik-7 FPGA development board covered in this article.

The baseboard comes with a 64-bit socket for the FPGA devboard, as well as a 4-digit seven-segment display, four push-buttons & eight toggle switches, a PS/2! port for keyboard or mouse, a VGA port, a Pmod-compatible connector, 3.5mm audio jacks, an analog temperature sensor, a light sensor, and a potentiometer for use with the analog-to-digital converter.

Mercury 2 DIP FPGA board can be purchased for $129 and up on Tindie or MicroNova store where you’ll get the options to get a higher capacity SPI flash, or Xilinx Artik-7 XC7A100T FPGA.

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2 Replies to “FPGA Meets Breadboard with Mercury 2 Xilinx Artix-7 FPGA Development Board”

    1. The one from Digilent is basically just an FPGA on a board. Looks like this one has 5V level shifting, external DACs / ADCs, ethernet PHY, and way more IO pins.

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Weller PCB manufacturer
Weller PCB manufacturer