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Suitability (and availability) of Parallax 1-2-3 A9 FPGA boards for some preproduction — Parallax Forums

Suitability (and availability) of Parallax 1-2-3 A9 FPGA boards for some preproduction

Peter JakackiPeter Jakacki Posts: 10,166
edited 2016-02-14 07:29 in Propeller 2
Since I have over 42 P1 chips in this one design I decided I'd like something with a bit more oomph for the central controller but I don't want to go down the ARM route for this part of it. Seeing I have Tachyon running nicely on P2 and now we have smartpins (which I still haven't had a chance to play with) I figured that I really want the P2. Seeing that it is not available yet but maybe in small quantities by the end of the year I nonetheless accept the risk seeing that it will streamline my development for the present if I incorporate a P2 FPGA board which can later be swapped out for a real P2 board.

The project in question is a huge double pallet enclosure so it will be easy to sneak an FPGA board in there.

Now the big question is I can't find any information about this board, dimensions, connectors, how to order, can I order10 off etc.

btw, my initial run is for 250 of these monsters but I'm hoping to stretch it out for a while with some preproduction units until P2 hopefully becomes available or else I will figure something out then.
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Comments

  • jmgjmg Posts: 14,650
    ... if I incorporate a P2 FPGA board which can later be swapped out for a real P2 board.
    Do you need all of a P2 (in one place) ?
    There are also other smaller FPGA boards supported.

  • If there was a board that was supported that could give me smartpins and 8 cores but just as much RAM then I would be happy with that. Even without smartpins too I guess but as close to the final product as possible. No need for analog at present.
  • ErNaErNa Posts: 1,568
    Are you aware of this product? https://hackaday.io/project/6786-soft-propeller
  • ErNa wrote: »

    Yes, I've looked at it before and it is very nicely designed but I need a Prop with more RAM and I/O, which the P2 is, otherwise I might be tempted. But besides I really want to not only play with P2 but use it in some real applications and there aren't many applications that can afford to have a large FPGA board emulating the P2 but this application can take it. So why not then.

  • This seems like something you should just talk to Chip about.

    Have him make an image that that meets your minimum needs, see how big an FPGA that would require, then see if there's an existing demo board that it would fit on.

    Heck, Parallax now has a bit of experience making FPGA boards. Though likely more expensive than using a demo board, maybe a custom PCB would be in order. You design one for the final P2 that meets your needs, then send to them to insert the appropriate FPGA instead. You could also run all the pins to pads for a future general purpose header. Then you could later replace the fielded FPGA versions with the P2 versions and reuse the FPGA versions for something else.
  • Peter JakackiPeter Jakacki Posts: 10,166
    edited 2016-02-14 14:47
    Seairth wrote: »
    This seems like something you should just talk to Chip about.

    Have him make an image that that meets your minimum needs, see how big an FPGA that would require, then see if there's an existing demo board that it would fit on.

    Heck, Parallax now has a bit of experience making FPGA boards. Though likely more expensive than using a demo board, maybe a custom PCB would be in order. You design one for the final P2 that meets your needs, then send to them to insert the appropriate FPGA instead. You could also run all the pins to pads for a future general purpose header. Then you could later replace the fielded FPGA versions with the P2 versions and reuse the FPGA versions for something else.


    Well ideally this is what I'd like, to have an FPGA board, even the A9 but in a more embeddable footprint that could just be plugged into the main custom PCB just like a big module. There is no need to have the breadboard and leds and stuff that is on the 1-2-3 etc, just the basics and the 64 I/O in say a 80-pin module arranged maybe as a 20 pin on each side or even DIL 20x2. Later on these early boards could have the FPGA module replaced with an actual P2 module (oops, you said that already).

    I know not all designs could go into early production in this manner but it sure means that there is a ready market for the chips when they do come out.

    @cgracey: So how about it? Is this a possibility either Parallax make the module or at least support an embedded FPGA module.

  • Once the P2 is available in silicon Parallax plans on having a board that just contains the P2 chip plus voltage regulators and some other support circuitry. Maybe they could develop an FPGA board with the same pinout and provide that before the chip is available. This way people could build boards that use the FPGA initially, and can later use the P2 chip by just swapping out the processor module.
  • rjo__rjo__ Posts: 2,115
    Peter,

    That info is available. I'll have to see where I have it and where it came from. In my mind the P123 is ready to go industrial. To interface with it in a robust way, you would just leave the headers and breadboard off and then make your permanent attachments there. The one area that might need a little massaging is pin assignments, to put things where you want them and resistors to pull things up or down. I think you can get what you want with an interface card... AND Parallax could cut some steps out of the production process, seems like a win-win to me. I would want some spare usb ports available:)

    Rich

  • rjo__ wrote: »
    Peter,
    That info is available. I'll have to see where I have it and where it came from. In my mind the P123 is ready to go industrial. To interface with it in a robust way, you would just leave the headers and breadboard off and then make your permanent attachments there. The one area that might need a little massaging is pin assignments, to put things where you want them and resistors to pull things up or down. I think you can get what you want with an interface card... AND Parallax could cut some steps out of the production process, seems like a win-win to me. I would want some spare usb ports available:)

    In my mind a production industrial board is almost never an eval board with adaptors here and there. It needs to be a solid custom board built for the job which is why the P2FPGA needs to be a module that plugs in. There is never any use for plug-in breadboard in an industrial design for instance and also the board needs to be designed to be a certain form factor or fit into an enclosure with the right type of connectors in the right places. That's just for starters.
  • rjo__rjo__ Posts: 2,115
    We agree... I was saying that there are anchor points available... I agree that the form factor seems to be a bit excessive, but a lot of that has to do with core functionality. Whatever you decide to do you can count me in for a couple of units.

    I think it might be a bit of a surprise to find out the actual production costs of the first 40 units.
    So to me, the price point is going to have to be a bit more realistic. ?$600->$1000?
  • jmgjmg Posts: 14,650
    If there was a board that was supported that could give me smartpins and 8 cores but just as much RAM then I would be happy with that. Even without smartpins too I guess but as close to the final product as possible. No need for analog at present.

    Chip gave this table
    cgracey wrote: »
    		     smart
    	      cogs    pins        RAM	 Freq	CORDIC
    	    +-----------------------------------------
    Prop123-A9  |	16	64	1024k	80MHz	   Yes
    DE2-115     |	 8	 8	 256k	80MHz	   Yes
    DE2-Nano    |	 1	 8	  32k	80MHz	    No
    

    but then there is this
    Rayman wrote: »
    I think I figured it out... My P123 board doesn't like the cold!

    Record low temps here have made it colder than usual at my desk here.
    Did a little experiment:

    Put P123 in refrigerator for 5 minutes then test --> power led is very dim and flickering like crazy
    Put P123 in front of heater for 1 minute then test --> works perfectly.

    Plus, as mentioned above, the P123 is something of a loss-leader.

    Can you use this ?
    bemicrocv-a9.jpg?mw=250


    https://www.arrow.com/en/products/bemicrocva9/arrow-development-tools

    120 in Stock, $149 each.

    I spotted this
    "Please note that this board is only meant for evaluation purposes. "
    - but you are using it to evaluate P2 :)
  • ErNa wrote: »
    I don't believe that product actually exists. I ordered one a long time ago and have never received it or a refund.

  • jmgjmg Posts: 14,650
    edited 2016-02-14 20:12
    Dave Hein wrote: »
    Once the P2 is available in silicon Parallax plans on having a board that just contains the P2 chip plus voltage regulators and some other support circuitry. Maybe they could develop an FPGA board with the same pinout and provide that before the chip is available. This way people could build boards that use the FPGA initially, and can later use the P2 chip by just swapping out the processor module.

    Very Good point.

    The P2 package and pinout is known, so any breakout PCB should be able to be defined quite early, (ie right now) and the pinout and dimensions published.
    I think a couple have passed by already ?

    "an FPGA board with the same pinout" would be ideal, but may be impractical.

    See the BEMICO-CVA9 above.

    What could be practical, is a dual-footprint host,
    eg Peter designs for the BEMICO-CVA9 headers, and also the smaller P2-Beakout, inside that.

    Host PCB can then take either PCB.

    An obvious candidate connector footprint would be the RaspPi 40 pin, or maybe one side of that BEMICO-CVA9 ?
    Two rows of headers are good mechanically, and maybe the Raspberry Pi Zero PCB Footprint of 65x30mm, with 2 header placements would cover many bases.
    (just needs an anti-reverse placement ?)

    Would that be too large for a P2 breakout ?
  • jmg wrote: »
    Can you use this ?
    bemicrocv-a9.jpg?mw=250
    https://www.arrow.com/en/products/bemicrocva9/arrow-development-tools
    120 in Stock, $149 each.
    I spotted this
    "Please note that this board is only meant for evaluation purposes. "
    - but you are using it to evaluate P2 :)

    That certainly sounds like an idea if Chip would support it that is. My controller alternatives to P2 is two or three P1s (not the same) or an ARM chip or just use an RPi but that would mean I'm not developing for the P2 which is what I'd rather do both for fun and for an investment in the P2 future for embedded designs.

  • jmg wrote: »
    Can you use this ?
    bemicrocv-a9.jpg?mw=250
    https://www.arrow.com/en/products/bemicrocva9/arrow-development-tools
    120 in Stock, $149 each.
    I spotted this
    "Please note that this board is only meant for evaluation purposes. "
    - but you are using it to evaluate P2 :)

    That certainly sounds like an idea if Chip would support it that is. My controller alternatives to P2 is two or three P1s (not the same) or an ARM chip or just use an RPi but that would mean I'm not developing for the P2 which is what I'd rather do both for fun and for an investment in the P2 future for embedded designs.
    You could use an ARM running Dave Hein's P2 emulator. :-)

  • jmgjmg Posts: 14,650
    That certainly sounds like an idea if Chip would support it that is.
    It has the same size FPGA, no ADC and different loader but ISTR Chip has done BeMicroCVA9 builds in the past ?
    I think just Pin mapping changes.
  • AribaAriba Posts: 2,458
    David Betz wrote: »
    ErNa wrote: »
    I don't believe that product actually exists. I ordered one a long time ago and have never received it or a refund.

    The board can be ordered here. Current stock: 62.

    Andy

  • Ariba wrote: »
    David Betz wrote: »
    ErNa wrote: »
    I don't believe that product actually exists. I ordered one a long time ago and have never received it or a refund.

    The board can be ordered here. Current stock: 62.

    Andy
    I guess he just forgot to ship mine? I've sent him email a bunch of times and he promises things but never delivers.

  • LeonLeon Posts: 7,620
    edited 2016-02-15 01:39
    That's strange. I've known Antti for years and Trenz is a reputable company.
  • Leon wrote: »
    That's strange. I've known Antti for years.
    Maybe he just forgot. I sent him another email.

  • LeonLeon Posts: 7,620
    I've got one of those boards at home. I'd give it to you but I'm laid up in hospital with a busted pelvis (hit by a car while crossing the road).
  • Leon wrote: »
    I've got one of those boards at home. I'd give it to you but I'm laid up in hospital with a busted pelvis (hit by a car while crossing the road).
    That's terrible! I'm sorry to hear that. I hope you're recovering okay.

  • Oh man! Hope you heal up OK.
  • cgraceycgracey Posts: 13,564
    jmg wrote: »
    Can you use this ?
    bemicrocv-a9.jpg?mw=250
    https://www.arrow.com/en/products/bemicrocva9/arrow-development-tools
    120 in Stock, $149 each.
    I spotted this
    "Please note that this board is only meant for evaluation purposes. "
    - but you are using it to evaluate P2 :)

    That certainly sounds like an idea if Chip would support it that is. My controller alternatives to P2 is two or three P1s (not the same) or an ARM chip or just use an RPi but that would mean I'm not developing for the P2 which is what I'd rather do both for fun and for an investment in the P2 future for embedded designs.

    I could do a custom compile for that $149 -A9 board. That's the best way to go, I think.
  • cgraceycgracey Posts: 13,564
    Leon wrote: »
    I've got one of those boards at home. I'd give it to you but I'm laid up in hospital with a busted pelvis (hit by a car while crossing the road).

    Leon, that is nuts! How long must you stay there? I'm wishing you a fast recovery.
  • Peter JakackiPeter Jakacki Posts: 10,166
    edited 2016-02-15 05:58
    cgracey wrote: »
    I could do a custom compile for that $149 -A9 board. That's the best way to go, I think.

    That sounds great, I will order some of these then and get one sent off to you too if you like. Now I am happier to go this P2 route for this design as this card is not too big and quite affordable (in "evaluation" quantities anyway).

    @Leon: XMOS PR department is wishing you well and wants you back real soon :)
    (FYI I've had a lot of "hospital" stuff too and a long road ahead, just gotta grin if we can and bear it we must)

    BTW, thanks for the tip Jim.
  • cgraceycgracey Posts: 13,564
    cgracey wrote: »
    I could do a custom compile for that $149 -A9 board. That's the best way to go, I think.

    That sounds great, I will order some of these then and get one sent off to you too if you like. Now I am happier to go this P2 route for this design as this card is not too big and quite affordable (in "evaluation" quantities anyway).

    @Leon: XMOS PR department is wishing you well and wants you back real soon :)
    (FYI I've had a lot of "hospital" stuff too and a long road ahead, just gotta grin if we can and bear it we must)

    BTW, thanks for the tip Jim.

    I'll order one on my end, so don't worry about sending me one.
  • Ok, glad that's settled. We gotta finish it now. Peter will have it in the field.

    (excellent! Says a lot of good things about Tachyon Forth too. Bad arse!)

  • LeonLeon Posts: 7,620
    Many thanks for the good wishes. I'm healing well and should be out of hospital soon, on crutches.
  • ozpropdevozpropdev Posts: 2,762
    edited 2016-02-15 08:51
    The A9 is a nice little board, but sadly a little short on user IO on the 40 pin headers.
    See here for a header diagram.

    @Leon Wishing you a speedy recovery old chap!

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