Silego’s GreenPAK – Design and program a custom chip in minutesI know that things are moving incredibly quickly these days technology-wise, but even so I would never have guessed that I would one day be sitting at my desk with the ability to design and implement a custom chip within a few minutes. Believe it or not, however, this is the case.By Clive Maxfield(August 18, 2011)When I was a young lad just starting to play with electronics in the early 1970s, most of my designs were digital. These little scamps were based on the use of 74-series TTL “Jelly Bean” devices, so even a relatively simple design typically required a whole bunch of chips and a relatively large circuit board.I used to read a lot of science fiction in those days (I still do, of course). I remember thinking that one day it might be possible to have something the size of a large photocopier or chest freezer that could create custom integrated circuits to one’s specification. I wasn’t entirely sure how this would work – just that there would be some way for you to capture a circuit diagram and then you’d press the “Big Red Button” and there would be some impressive light and sound effects and out would pop your new chip.I know that things are moving incredibly quickly these days technology-wise, but even so I would never have guessed that I would one day be sitting at my desk with the ability to design and implement a custom chip within a few minutes. Believe it or not, however, this is thecase…Introducing Silego’s GreenPAK 1While I was at DAC 2011, I met up with Aron Cooperman from Silego Technology (www.silego.com). Silego make a variety of electronic products (GreenFET, GreenCLK, GreenDDR3, etc.), but the one that’s of the most interest to me is their GreenPAK 1, which comes in the form of an 8-pin 2mm x 2mm surface mount package.Obviously this looks rather “beefy” in this image, but if you draw a 2mm x 2mm square on a piece of paper you’ll realize just how small this is, and yet this little beauty packs a lot of “wallop” as we shall see.The way I think of the GreenPAK 1 is as a super-small mixed-signal FPGA that you can design and program in just a few minutes and that costs only a few cents (more on this below). A brief summary of the GreenPAK 1’s features is as follows:*Operating voltage = 3.3V* Eight Pins* One 8-bit SAR analog-to-digital converter (ADC)* Two analog/digital comparators* One internal voltage reference* Seven look-up tables (LUTs) (2 x 2-bit, 4 x 3-bit, 1 x 4-bit)* Three flip-flops / latches* One pulse width modulator (PWM)* One internal oscillatorOut of the 8 pins, one is power and one is ground, which leaves 6 pins that the user can configure as inputs or outputs. Also either pin 6 or pin 7 can be configured to act as the analog input to the ADC and/or the analog/digital comparators (both pins will be used if you decide to employ a differential signal).(continua)
18 agosto 2011
Micro-FPGA Silego: chip programmabili in pochi minuti
TechOnline India ha pubblicato uno stimolante articolo di Clive Maxfield dedicato a un rivoluzionario prodotto della californiana Silego, GreenPAK. Si tratta di una "micro-FPGA" per segnali misti che dispone al suo interno di tutto quel che serve per realizzare, in logica cablata, le più svariati applicazioni di acquisizione e controllo del segnale, il tutto attraverso GreenPAK Designer, un software di progettazione visuale per ambienti Win e Macintosh che trasforma in pochi minuti uno schema a blocchi in un chip personalizzato a bassissimo costo (pochi centesimi di dollaro) perfettamente funzionante. Silego propone anche, per una somma molto modesta, un kit di valutazione comprendente qualche decina di campioni di GreenPAK.
Anche in questo caso vale la pena dare un'occhiata all'incredibile ambiente di sviluppo Silego, attraverso questo filmato disponibile su YouTube:
Siamo evidentemente ancora lontani dalla complessità applicativa delle FPGA di classe avanzata come quelle già utilizzate in progetti SDR radioamatoriali come il Perseus o il QuickSilver, ma considerando che Silego sta già per rilasciare la seconda generazione del suo GreenPAK, è facile immaginare che presto questi chip programmabili potranno essere utilizzati per applicazioni DSP molto più potenti.