Plug-in-&-go USB iCEstick FPGA evaluation kit from Lattice

22nd August 2013
Nat Bowers

Lattice Semiconductor has introducedan easy-to-use USB thumb drive form factor development board, theiCEstick Evaluation Kit. The new Lattice FPGA evaluation kit allows engineers and system architects to rapidly evaluate and develop mobile solutions based on the Lattice’s iCE40 mobileFPGA family, the world’s first and only FPGAs built to address the mobile devices market.

The iCEstick evaluation kit speeds solution development by including, along with the FPGA, hardware features and reference designs targeting infrared and sensor functions for smartphones, tablets, gaming devices and a host of other applications that have demanding requirements for low-cost, low-power and fast-time-to-market.

Ted Marena, Director of Solutions Marketing at Lattice, commented: The explosion of mobile devices available on the market today is creating challenges for equipment designers, who need to define, implement, and deploy differentiated capabilities in their next generation devices before the next market window closes. The Lattice iCE40 FPGA family provides the programmable technology to enable breakthrough differentiation with the world’s smallest FPGAs. iCEstick development kit takes innovation to a new level by providing a plug-in-and-go development environment that allows designers to innovate and deploy faster than ever before.”

The iCEstick Evaluation Kit allows designers to implement a solutionthat replaces virtually any high-end remote control to interface to TVs, LED lighting systems or other infrared-controlled devices. It also offers a simple starting point to design infrared data transfer between mobile devices such as PCs, tablets, gaming devices, and more, by using the iCE40 FPGA to implement a fully programmable Pulse Width Modulation function and bridge to an infrared LED.

The kit includes reference designs that enable wireless transmission of data or control signals to enable streamlined and accelerated development. This is done via an interface to an IrDA transceiver or a Digilent Pmod Compatible peripheral connector, all while using a minimal number of I/O from the iCE40 FPGA. This is just one example of what the iCEstick enables; more reference designs are included as detailed below.

The iCEstick Evaluation Kit features a Pmod Compatible peripheral connector that enables designers to connect an accelerometer to the board. This means that designers can easily develop solutions for senor interfacing, monitoring and data management. This capability is particularly important for mobile platforms as accelerometers are becoming more mainstream in mobile designs to facilitate measurement of speed and impact for context aware applications such as gaming controllers and smartphones.

Getting started with the iCEstick Evaluation Kit is easy because it simply connects to a laptop or PC like a USB thumb drive, giving users immediate access to the onboard iCE40HX-1k FPGA. The kit is supported by Lattice’s iCEcube2 design software for HDL development and Lattice Diamond Programmer software enabling programming via the device's SPI flash.

Reference designs to accelerate development

iCEstick customers can download free reference designs that simplify the process of developing complete custom solutions. Along with the user guide, these reference designs are available at www.latticesemi.com/icestick and include:

  • Self –check default demo: Plugging in the iCEstick automatically configures and performs self-check which blinks the LEDs in a circular pattern. Customers can immediately validate the HDL design template and modify and add functionality as required.
  • IrDA Tx & Rx reference design: Simplifies the evaluation and development of a wide variety of applications involving wireless transmission of data or control signals.
  • Accelerometer reference design: This HDL design enables designers to evaluate how the iCE40 device can interface to a sensor using a separately-purchased accelerometer. This can be used as a starting point for integrating additional sensors for their particular requirements.

Pricing and Availability

The iCEstick evaluation kit is available now for purchase from Lattice distributors and costs $24.99. For specific details on where to buy, please go to www.latticesemi.com/icestickand order your iCEstick today.

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