Is the tinyFPGA enough?


#1

I’m considering buying the tinyFPGA, mostly to learn about how to work and program one. My eventual goal is to make it into a fully capable microcontroller, and hopefully a good one. is this an option, or will the chip’s low gate and LUT count limit me at some point?


#2

Well, there are 3 sizes to choose from. (I’ve only got an AX1. Ahh!) (How’s the EX coming along?) https://tinyfpga.com/


#3

It depends how fast you want the microcontroller to be. You can run a Risc-V based microcontroller on a TinyFPGA BX using its clock speed of 16MHz, or faster using a PLL, perhaps about 30MHz.

The TinyFPGA BX is also limited by memory - 16KB of BRAM, and no external RAM.

You are unlikely to run out of LUTs creating a microcontroller, unless you add a huge number of features to it. You are much more likely to find the lack of memory a problem.

The creator of this board is no longer active, and the TinyFPGA EX is unlikely ever to appear.

The TinyFPGA BX does not have any built-in I/O or direct support of Pmods, unlike some other boards.

There are now better supported FPGAs, such as the iCEBreaker series - https://1bitsquared.com/collections/fpga/products/icebreaker-bitsy

The bitsy version uses a up5k ice40 which has fewer LUTs, but an extra 256KB of single-port RAM. The bitsy also has 8MB of SPI PSRAM.

There is also the Blackice series of boards - https://www.tindie.com/products/folknology/blackice-mx/. The Blackice Mx has 2MB of SDRAM and lots more I/O, although the HDMI connector does not work.

If you need more LUTs and more memory, there are Ecp5 devices, such as the Ulx3s - https://radiona.org/ulx3s/

Some of these boards are hard to get hold of at the moment.