Attendees of Maker Faire Europe saw how FPGAs are being used today to enable innovation in unique and varied ways. Altera offers a wide variety of low-cost, easy-to-use, off-the-shelf development kits for hobbyists and innovators alike.
In its booth, ipTronix showcased an Arduino port on the newly announced non-volatile MAX 10 FPGA starter kit. The ipTronix solution allows makers to run existing Arduino sketches on a soft core Nios II processor embedded in the MAX 10 FPGA using the familiar Arduino IDE with the possibility to integrate the functionality of external shields onto a single board. MAX 10 FPGAs are flash based FPGAs targeted at cost-sensitive, high-volumeapplications which can replace microcontrollers in applications where a high degree of customization is required. ipTronix software integration brings the capabilities of these devices to the larger audience of makers without the steep learning curve of FPGA design practices, making programmable hardware a straightforward and cost-effective solution for everyone at the same time offering the benefits of the Arduino ecosystem to FPGA enthusiasts.
ipTronix implementation leverages a Nios II soft core processor which can be configurable for low footprint or high performance allowing users to finetune processor performance between 33 and 192 MIPS, well above the 20 MIPS delivered by the original Arduino processor. In addition to the Arduino IDE, developers can also take advantage of the comprehensive eclipse based Altera Nios II IDE which provides full support for JTAG debugging and allows expert users to develop more advanced solutions including uClinux and full Linux support.
Along with the open source Arduino port, ipTronix will provide a set of IP blocks that extend the original Arduino peripherals with more advanced devices such as display interfaces, motor controllers, Ethernet ports and more, offering the possibility to fully customize the feature set of the board and reducing the need for additional external components.
"We are pleased to see our DSN partner ipTronix proposing this innovative and creative use of the just release MAX 10 FPGA family", stated Achille Montanaro, Regional Sales Manager in Altera Italy and Maker Faire enthusiast. "The demo showed by ipTronix is able to offer to the maker community an easy way to exploit their creativity with an easy to useprogrammable platform like MAX 10 FPGA."
"We're very excited to show real world applications for Altera's MAX 10 FPGA, which we think is going to provide a new degree of freedom to makers", stated Dario Pennisi, ipTronix CEO. "Empowering Arduino platform with easy to use, open source, fully programmable hardware is going to dramatically extend the reach of the Arduino ecosystem to projects that can be reprogrammed based on what you need, not what the chip designer thought you may need."