Gareth Halfacre writes about all the latest news in open source chip design:
El Correo Libre Issue 32
Precursor Packs Open Source Silicon into a Smartphone-Like Development Unit
Andrew “bunnie” Huang has announced plans to release an all-in-one smartphone-like development platform designed specifically for experimentation with free and open source silicon: Precursor.
“Precursor is a mobile, open source electronics platform,” bunnie explains. “Similar to how a Raspberry Pi or an Arduino can be transformed into an IoT gadget with the addition of a couple breakout boards, some solder, and a bit of code, Precursor is a framework upon which you can assemble a wide variety of DIY mobile applications.
“Precursor is unique in the open source electronics space in that it’s designed from the ground-up to be carried around in your pocket. It’s not just a naked circuit board with connectors hanging off at random locations: it comes fully integrated — with a rechargeable battery, a display, and a keyboard — in a sleek, 7.2 mm (quarter-inch) aluminium case.”
iCEBreaker Bitsy v1.1a FPGA Development Boards Pass Testing
Engineer Piotr Esden-Tempski has shown off a test batch of iCEBreaker Bitsy v1.1a development boards, designed to offer a more compact alternative to the popular iCEBreaker FPGA development board.
“iCEBreaker Bitsy is the smaller but just-as-capable sibling to iCEBreaker,” the project maintainers explain. “At just 1.4×0.7in, it is compatible with the Teensy form-factor and can be easily embedded into any project.”
The iCEBreaker Bitsy is built around a Lattice Semiconductor iCE40UP5K in a QFN48 package with phase-locked loop (PLL), two SPI buses, and two I2C hard IP blocks, and features 16MB of DDR- and QPI-capable flash memory, 8MB of QPI-capable pseudostatic RAM (PSRAM), a USB Type-C interface linked to a pre-loaded RISC-V soft USB bootloder, an RGB LED, two single-colour user LEDs, a 12MHz external clock, and a single user button.
Piotr showed off an early batch of iCEBreaker Bitsy v1.1a boards on Twitch.tv and Twitter, streaming the assembly and successful test of the boards. The changes for v1.1a, meanwhile, were merged into the iCEBreaker FPGA GitHub repository back in August.
More details on both the iCEBreaker and iCEBreaker Bitsy can be found on the project’s GitHub repository.