The Next Generation of TinyFPGAs

Field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) have come of age. Once viewed as exotic and scary there are a number of FPGA boards targeting the maker market and among them is a new range of open source TinyFPGA boards.

The latest TinyFPGA board is the TinyFPGA BX board, an updated version of their B2 board, and it’s arriving soon on Crowd Supply.

The TinyFPGA BX prototypes. (📷: Luke Valenty)

The new BX board is based around the same ICE40LP8K FPGA as the original B2; however, with stock of their original B-series board running low, the new piece of hardware is a big improvement. It comes with more IO pins, with 42 IO pins controllable by the FPGA, and 33 of those pins are dedicated to user IO and are not shared with the board infrastructure like the SPI programming interface. There are also power and ground pins, with 3×ground pins and 2×3.3V pins.

Testing the new TinyFPGA BX board. (📷: Luke Valenty)

The BX has both a power and bootloader LED onboard that can be repurposed by the user, and the SPI flash has been doubled from 4Mbit to 8Mbit giving more space for user data on the a soft CPU core.

Interestingly, the board now even has a (mostly) Teensy 3.2 compatible footprint, so you can drop the TinyFPGA BX board into a project that previously used a Teensy 3.2 board and not have to worry about shorting out any pins.

Beyond the new B-series board, the first of the TinyFPGA E-series boards has also just made it into production. The larger E-series boards are based around Lattice Semiconductor’s ECP5 FPGAs and are still in early prototyping.

A TinyFPGA family photo, with the new BX and EX boards to the right. (📷: Luke Valenty)

The new BX boards are currently in pre-production and coming soon to Crowd Supply, and while the original B2 boards are ‘sold out’ if you can’t wait you can still pick up the an A1 or A2 board and get started right away.

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