MicroSemi Introduces PolarFire FPGA & RISC-V SoC

Polaris FPGA + RISC-V SoC

In the past we’ve covered SoCs comprised of Arm cores and FPGA fabric via Xilinx Zynq-7000 series SoCs and Zynq UltraScale+ series MPSoCs, respectively featuring up to two Arm Cortex A9 cores, and up to four Cortex A53 cores. MicroSemi has now announced an alternative, not based on Arm cores, but instead based on SiFive U54-MC RISC-V cores combined with PolarFire FPGA fabric. PolarFire FPGA RISC-V SoC key features & specifications: FPGA – Microsemi PolarFire FPGA Processor Cores – Up to 4x SiFive U54-MC RISC-V cores clocked at up to 1.5GHz (performance similar to Cortex-A35 cores); 28nm process Deterministic Coherent Multi-core CPU Cluster Deterministic L2 Memory Subsystem System Memory I/F –  Integrated DDR4/LPDDR4 Controller and PHY Storage – Secure Boot, 128K Boot Flash Debug capability Rich I/Os Low Power – Low static power; power optimized transceivers, up to 50% lower power compared to SRAM based FPGAs So we don’t have the full picture just yet, and we’ll have to wait …

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Banana Pi BPI-AI-Voice is a $169 Speech Recognition Development Kit based on MicroSemi ZL38063

BPI-AI-Voice

SinoVoIP has just launched BPI-AI-Voice development platform for speech recognition on Aliexpress for $169, and excluding the different PCB color, it is a clone of the official $299 Microsemi AcuEdge Development Kit for Amazon AVS, which is based on MicroSemi ZL38063 audio processor and comes with two microphones. BPI-AI-Voice key features: Audio Processor – MicroSemi ZL38063 Storage – U2 SPI flash to store ZL38063 firmware Audio 4x on-board digital microphones (AKU441) supporting a 2 microphone configuration for 180° and 360° audio pick-up. 2x low cost class D audio amplifier (NCP2820) Expansion Headers JMMA1 audio header for digital microphone, analog out, and 3 GPIOs JM1-4 digital microphone headers for off-board microphones 40-pin P2 header to connected to Raspberry Pi 3  (I2S, SPI and 8x GPIO used) Debugging – JAIB2/2 auto tuning headers, micro USB port. Power Supply – 5V via micro USB port Dimensions – 70 mm × 66 mm Temperature Range – −40° C to 85° C The original kit …

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MicroSemi ZL38063 Audio Processor is Designed for Microphone Arrays

I’ve already been experimenting with DIY smart speakers and corresponding services for example using ReSpeaker board with Microsoft Bing Speech API, or Orange Pi Zero with Google Assistant SDK. But so far all the hardware platforms I used only came with one microphone, no microphone array that help with wake word detection in noisy environments. Last week-end, I received Espressif Audio Mic HDK, an ESP32 board with a 3-microphone array which I’ll review a in a few weeks once documentation becomes available and I clear some other items in my review list. In the meantime, I checked out the hardware, and found out the mainboard also comes with Microsemi ZL38063 audio processor specifically designed for microphone array. The chip was released las year, and can be already found in the company’s AcuEdge Development Kit for Amazon AVS, but since I’m going to use a board based on ZL38063 I’d thought to have a closer look to better understand its capabilities. …

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$34 SmartFusion2 Maker Board Arm Cortex-M3 + FPGA Board Supports ESP32 & ESP8266 Modules

Xilinx Zynq SoCs are probably the most well-known FPGAs with ARM cores, as their Cortex A9/A53 cores can run Linux, but they are not the only ones. Microsemi launched SmartFusion2 SoC comprised of FPGA fabric and an Arm Cortex-M3 core in 2013, as well as a $300 development kit. The company has now partnered with Digikey to launch SmartFusion2 Maker Board, a low-cost evaluation platform for the SoC that comes with Gigabit Ethernet, a USB port, a connector for ESP8266 module, PCB footprint for ESP32 module, among other features like a light sensor, LEDs, and buttons. SmartFusion2 maker board (M2S010-MKR-KIT) main features & specifications: SoC  – Microsemi SmartFusion2 M2S010 SoC with: Arm Cortex-M3 @ 166 MHz, 6oKB+80KB eSRAM, 256KB eNVM FPGA with 12,084 logic element, 400 Kbits RAM Storage – 16 Mbit SPI Flash Connectivity Gigabit Ethernet via VSC8541 PHY, RJ45 connector Connector for ESP8266 (Sparkfun WRL-13678 – not included) Laid out footprint for ESP32 (DFRobot ESP-WROOM-32 – not included) …

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Microsemi VSC7513 and VSC7514 MIPS SoCs for Ethernet Switches Get Initial Mainline Linux Support

Microsemi VSC7514 is a 10-port Gigabit Ethernet (GbE)/SMB switch supporting a combination of 1G and 2.5G Ethernet ports, and VSC7513 comes with basically the same features except it’s limited 8 ports. Both SoCs include a MIPS processor with DDR3 memory interface, and support industrial and enterprise Ethernet switching features such as VLAN and QoS processing. Microsemi VSC751x Ocelot family was unveiled in June 2016, but I only heard about them today, as Free Electrons recently added initial support for VSC7513 & VSC7514 chip into mainline Linux with the patch series available here. Microsemi VSC7514 specifications & features: CPU / Memory Interface – Integrated 500 MHz MIPS 24KEc CPU with MMU and DDR3/DDR3L SDRAM  controller Ethernet Connectivity – 4x dual media copper ports, 2x 1G SGMII ports, and 2x 1G/2.5G SGMII ports Host CPU Interfaces – PCIe 1.x and NPI CPU interface Internal shared memory buffer (8 queues per port) Jumbo frame support Strict priority and DWRR scheduler/shaper Layer 2 Switching …

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SiFive Introduces Freedom U500 and E500 Open Source RISC-V SoCs

Open source used to be a software thing, with the hardware design being kept secret for fear of being copied, but companies such as Texas Instruments realized that from a silicon vendor perspective it would make perfect sense to release open source hardware designs with full schematics, Gerber files and SoM, to allow smaller companies and hobbyists, as well as the education market, normally not having the options to go through standard sales channels and the FAE (Field Application Engineer) support, to experiment with the platform and potentially come up with commercial products. That’s exactly what they did with the Beagleboard community, but there’s still an element that’s closed source, albeit documented: the processor itself. But this could change soon, as SiFive, a startup founded by the creators of the free and open RISC-V architecture, has announced two open source SoCs with Freedom U500 processor and Freedom E300 micro-controller. Freedom U500 (Unleashed family) platform key specifications: U5 Coreplex with 1 …

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$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. 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 …

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$66.75 Beaglebone and Other Development Boards Xmas Deals

I’ve come across Xmas deals for uCLinux, Linux and Android development boards & kits by Texas instruments and Emcraft Systems. TI offers 25% discount off five Sitara Linux/Android development kits purchased via Ti e-Store: AM3359 Industrial Development Kit – A full-featured application development platform for evaluating the capabilities and features of Sitara AM335x ARM Cortex-A8 Processors for industrial applications. AM335x processors integrate industrial communication standards that work on Ethernet, CAN, and RS-485 physical layers. Regular price: $895 AM335x Starter Kit – Low-cost development platform based on AM335x ARM Cortex-A8 processor with multiple communication options such as Dual Gigabit Ethernet, WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity, as well as a 4.3″ LCD Touchcreen (resistive). Regular price: $199 AM3359 Industrial Communications Engine (ICE) – Low cost development platform targeted for systems that specifically focus on the industrial communications capabilities of the Sitara AM335x ARM Cortex-A8 Processors. Regular price: $99 Beaglebone – Low-cost, community-supported development board driven by TI’s Sitara AM335x ARM Cortex-A8 processor. Regular …

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