Microchip announces the PolarFire SoC Discovery Kit, a low-cost devkit for Linux and real-time applications

The SoC Discovery Kit is the latest addition to Microchip’s list of development kits for the PolarFire series. The series is the first SoC FPGA family powered by a deterministic, coherent RISC-V CPU cluster. They provide low power consumption, thermal efficiency, and defense-grade security for smart, networked systems. They also support a deterministic L2 memory system for Linux and real-time applications.

Microchip PolarFire SoC Discovery Kit

Microchip launched the Icicle Kit for the PolarFire SoC in 2020 and it was followed by the Video and Imaging Kit which was intended for mid-bandwidth imaging and video applications. Now, Microchip has announced the Discovery Kit which is billed as a low-cost alternative to the Icicle. The Discovery Kit retains the full range of features needed for testing concepts quickly, developing firmware applications, and programming/debugging user code.

According to Microchip, the kit will bring “a low-cost RISC-V and FPGA development for learning and rapid innovation” to new and experienced engineers as well as university students. Other recent products like the BeagleV-Fire single-board computer have implemented the PolarFire SoC FPGA.

microchip discovery kit specifications

Polarfire SoC Discovery Kit specifications:

  • SoC FPGA – PolarFire SoC MPFS095T-1FCSG325E penta–core RISC-V CPU subsystem (1x RV64IMAC @ 625MHz, 4x RV64GC @ 625MHz) with
    • 95K LE non-volatile fabric
    • 292 18 × 18 math blocks
    • Secure boot
    • 4x 12.7 Gbps SERDES
  • System Memory – 1GB LPDDR4 x16
  • Storage – 1x microSD card slot
  • Video Output – MIPI video interface
  • Connectivity – 1x Gigabit Ethernet
  • Expansion Ports
    • 40-pin Raspberry Pi compatible header with GPIO, I2C, SPI, UART
    • mikroBUS socket
    • 3x UART via USB Type-C port
  • Debugging
    • 2 x push buttons
    • 8x debug LEDs
    • USB-C (UART)
    • 8x dip switches
  • Misc – 3x power LEDs, 2x user buttons, a jumper for selecting a power supply, 7-segment display connector
  • Power Supply – 5V @ 3A via USB Type-C or external power supply
  • Dimensions – 4.1”  x 3.3”

The Polarfire Discovery Kit is smaller than the Icicle Kit and excludes features such as a PCIe slot, micro-USB ports, onboard storage, wireless connectivity, a power barrel jack, and the I2C power sensor. Also, it has less RAM, only one Ethernet port, and uses a single USB Type-C port for power and debugging. It retains the 40-pin Raspberry Pi-compatible header and the mikroBus socket for connecting Click Boards.

The board has an embedded FlashPro5 (FP5) programmer for programming and debugging the FPGA, and for developing firmware applications. The board is supported by Microchip’s Libero SoC software and buyers will be provided with a free Libero Silver license. You can find further information, schematics for the kit, a user guide, and other accompanying documentation on the product page.

The PolarFire SoC Discovery Kit is priced at $132 for a single board. However, a discount is available via Microchip’s Academic Program and members only have to pay $99. Production kits are expected to ship from April 2024. The package will contain the Discovery Kit board, a quickstart card, and a USB 2.0 Type C-to-C cable.

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