Microchip Technology release PolarFire SoC Discovery Kit

15th February 2024
Kristian McCann

The PolarFire SoC Discovery Kit meets demand for open-source RISC-V-based processor architectures is on the rise within the embedded industry, yet the availability of commercial silicon or hardware remains scarce.

Addressing this challenge, Microchip Technology unveiled the PolarFire SoC Discovery Kit, aimed at fostering innovation by making cutting-edge technology more accessible to engineers at varying experience levels. This development kit, designed to be user-friendly and rich in features, offers a practical solution for embedded processing and compute acceleration. It includes a quad-core, RISC-V application-class processor capable of supporting Linux and real-time applications, alongside a comprehensive set of peripherals and 95K of low-power, high-performance FPGA logic elements. This affordable kit enables swift testing of application concepts, firmware development, programming, and debugging.

Shakeel Peera, Vice President of Marketing for Microchip’s FPGA Business Unit, expressed the company's commitment to supporting the development of embedded systems that demand low-power, high-performance FPGA fabrics. "The PolarFire SoC Discovery Kit marks a significant milestone in our quest to deliver smarter, secure, and high-performance computing solutions across a broad spectrum of applications," he stated. "This Discovery Kit provides both seasoned and novice design engineers, as well as university students, with an economical platform for RISC-V and FPGA development, facilitating learning and rapid innovation."

Furthermore, as part of its commitment to education, Microchip is set to offer the PolarFire SoC Discovery Kits at a discounted rate to universities through a pilot project within the Microchip Academic Program in the latter half of 2024. This initiative aims to equip the next generation of engineers with firsthand experience of advanced technology, enhancing their practical learning and aligning academic pursuits with current industry trends. The program extends resources to educators, researchers, and students globally, supporting the integration of advanced technology into academic syllabi.

Highlighting the practical benefits of the Discovery Kit, Steven Osburn, a professor at the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University, shared insights on its impact. "Utilising the PolarFire SoC Discovery Kit in capstone projects offers students a unique opportunity to develop practical applications, bridging the gap between academic learning and real-world engineering challenges. ASU students have greatly benefited from not only the access to development boards but also the exceptional mentorship provided by Microchip’s academic program," he remarked.

The Discovery Kit is centred around the PolarFire MPFS095T SoC FPGA, featuring an embedded microprocessor subsystem with a quad-core, 64-bit CPU cluster based on the RISC-V ISA, a configurable L2 memory subsystem for performance or deterministic operation supporting asymmetric multi-processing (AMP) mode. It also includes support for Microchip’s Mi-V ecosystem, a MikroBUS expansion header for Click Boards, a 40-pin Raspberry Pi connector, and a MIPI video connector, alongside an embedded FP5 programmer for FPGA fabric programming and debugging, and firmware development. Further details can be found on the PolarFire SoC FPGA webpage.


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