Aldec launches its first RISC-V PolarFire FPGA emulation board

July 07, 2021 // By Nick Flaherty
Aldec launches its first RISC-V PolarFire FPGA emulation board
Aldec’s TySOM-M Series of emulation boards targets low power and high security applications with five RISC-V cores

Design emulation specialist Aldec has launched its first board based around Microchip’s low power PolarFire FPGA system on chip with five 64bit RISC-V processors.

The TySOM-M-MPFS250 is the first in a planned series with two connections to peripheral cards, initially using Microchip’s MPFS250T-FCG1152 and moving to larger devices when they become available.

Aldec’s current boards use the Xilinx Zynq UltraScale+ and Zynq-7000 FPGA SoCs with ARM cores.

The MPFS250T on the board has 254K of flash-based non-volatile FPGA logic elements to emulate user designs alongside five 64bit RISC-V cores. The cores are based around a five stage pipeline with a coherent memory structure and deterministic level two cache to support real time operation. Four of the cores can run the Linux operating system or real time software while the fifth is used for security and monitoring.

The simpler five stage pipeline means the cores are not vulnerable to the Meltdown and Spectre exploits found in common out-of-order machines, and the flash FPGA and lower voltage operation down to 1V results in lower power consumption.

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The TySOM-M-MPFS250 board has 16Gbits of 32bit wide DDR4 memory with 16Gbits of MSS DDR4 x36 with ECC, eMMC, SPI Flash memory, 64 Kb EEPROM and a microSD card socket. In addition to the dual FMC connections, there are 2x Ethernet 10/100/1000, 1x USB 2.0, a USB to UART bridge, a PCIe x4 Gen2 root, CAN and HDMI OUT interfaces for external communications.

The dual standard FMC interface supports Aldec’s range of daughter cards for the rapid development of applications that include automotive, with ADAS in particular, machine learning, embedded vision, embedded-HPC including edge processing, IoT, IIoT and industrial automation.

“Microchip PolarFire SoC FPGA devices are the lowest power, multi-core SoC FPGAs on the market,” said Krishnakumar R, product marketing and Mi-V ecosystem manager at Microchip Technology. “PolarFire SoC FPGAs also enable triple-layer security that protects the hardware, design and data, plus each processor core has physical memory protection, to enforce access restrictions depending on the machine’s privilege state. Aldec’s decision to use PolarFire SoC FPGA in its new TySOM-M family will enable users to design for a wealth of applications requiring low power and high security.”

“Our TySOM-M debut board inherits all the features and benefits of the PolarFire SoC FPGA. These, combined with the board’s own features and benefits, provide engineers with a highly versatile platform for developing applications that will cost less than if they were to target ARM cores,” said Zibi Zalewski, General Manager of Aldec’s Hardware Division. “Also, the board’s ability to connect to two FMC daughter cards means it can be used in virtually any industry sector without having to develop custom hardware. This really is a powerful plug-and-play solution.”

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