Seeed’s Spartan Edge Accelerator Combines an ESP32 and Spartan FPGA in the Arduino Uno Form Factor

Xilinx’s Spartan FPGAs have been on the market for a while, and are one of the more affordable programmable chips that can be had over brands such as Artix and Zynq. Seeed Studio has released a new Xilinx Spartan-based development board that offers Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capabilities and comes in the popular Arduino form factor.

The Spartan Edge Accelerator features an Arduino Uno form factor, meaning it can function as an FPGA Shield or a standalone FPGA development board with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capabilities. (📷: Seeed Studio)

“It can work with Arduino as an FPGA shield and as a standalone FPGA development board. With the onboard ESP32 chip, the Spartan Edge Accelerator Board also features 2.4GHz WiFi and Bluetooth 4.1. Moreover, this development board has a wealth of peripherals and interfaces which are extremely playable.”

Under the hood, the Spartan Edge Accelerator packs a Spartan-7 XC7S15 FPGA with 12.8K Logic cells and 360Kb of block RAM, as well as an ESP32 with 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi (@ 2.4GHz), and Bluetooth 4.1 with BLE. There is also SPI Flash and a micro SD card slot for expansion, plus mini HDMI, a CSI camera interface (with support for OV5640 sensor), and a USB Type-C port. Expansion options include Arduino 5V headers, an FPGA I/O header, DAC output and ADC input header (provided by an 8-bit ADC1173 chip), and a pair of Grove connectors.

Seeed provides the full version of the Arduino FPGA API that allows users to control the FPGA I/Os with the Arduino IDE. (📷: Seeed Studio)

Rounding out the hardware features include are an Arduino ICSP header and FPGA JTAG interface for programming and debugging, a 6-axis accelerometer and gyroscope, as well as a power switch, two ESP32 buttons, three FPGA buttons, two user LEDs, two user RGB LEDs, a DIP switch, and a power selection jumper.

When it comes to Arduino FPGA, the first mover Arduino MKR Vidor 4000 was always mentioned. Compared with the official Arduino MKR Vidor 4000, the Spartan Edge Accelerator Board has a similar performance, but the price is less than half! Spartan Edge Accelerator Board can run at up to 100Mhz clock speed and offers 12.8K logic cells, 360Kb block RAM. Well, to drive a camera or HDMI display is just a piece of cake. Besides we breakout 10 user-programmable I/O pins of XC7S15, you can configure them as PWM, I2C, I2S, UART, SPI, etc.

Seeed provides the full Arduino FPGA API to help users control the FPGA I/Os with the Arduino IDE, even if you’re not familiar with FPGA. The Spartan Edge Accelerator Board is now available for $34.90.

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Author: Cabe Atwell

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