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FPGA add-on boards support Raspberry Pi, BeagleBone Black

May 25, 2015 — by Eric Brown — 9,447 views

[Updated: June 1] — Newark Element14’s new ValentFX Logi-Pi and Logi-Bone FPGA add-on boards for the Raspberry Pi and BeagleBone Black feature Arduino and PMOD hooks.

We first covered the Logi-Pi and Logi-Bone Logi-Boards back in Sept. 2013 when ValentFX showed off prototypes at the New York Maker Faire. The Logi-Boards, which integrate Xilinx SPARTAN-6 XC6SLX9 FPGAs, and plug into the Linux-based Raspberry Pi or BeagleBone Black hacker boards, respectively, reached market last year, thanks to a partnership with Newark Element14. They also launched a Logi-Edu educational board add-on that purports to teach everyday hackers the mysteries of FPGA. Now, Newark Element14 has released slightly updated models of all three.

Logi-Pi (left) and Logi-Bone FPGA board prototypes at 2013 New York Maker Faire
(click images to enlarge)

Improvements over the previous Logi-Board versions include a new I2C GPIO expander, as well as a micro-USB port for power. SPI flash was updated from 16Mbit to 32Mbit. There’s also a new SPI Buffer to FPGA and flash, and on the Logi-Pi version, new mounting holes to support more recent RPi models. The Logi-Edu, meanwhile, can now be used with the Logi-Bone by using dual PMOD ports simultaneously.

With the Logi-Boards, ValentFX has built a complete “open-source closed-loop” development platform called the Logi Ecosystem, designed to ease the difficulties of FPGA development. Those difficulties are said to include expensive programming tools, non-standard expansion hardware interfaces, the need to create wiring interfaces to existing embedded platforms, and the high learning curve with HDL (hardware description language) programming.

Logi-Pi (left) and Logi-Bone production boards
(click images to enlarge)

The Logi-Ecosystem offers three development environments aimed at different experience level:
  • LOGi Apps – command line interface that lets you run existing applications with a single terminal command such as “sudo”
  • LOGi Skeleton – web-based graphical HDL composer for customizing and configuring projects using graphical components
  • LOGi Stack — a set of software, drivers, and HDL drivers for “seamlessly” integrating FPGA functions into existing MCU applications

Logi-Board architecture
(click image to enlarge)

The Logi Ecosystem provides APIs and Wrappers for easy access to the FPGAs custom hardware peripherals using the wishbone bus standard, says Newark Element14. Open source application examples are available on the Logi repository at the Element14 community site. Applications can be written using C and C++ or in conjunction with Python.

Logi-Pi (left and Logi-Bone detail views
(click images to enlarge)

The Logi-Boards combine the Spartan-6 LX9 FPGA with 256MB RAM. Both models use I2C and SPI signals to communicate between boards, but the Logi-Bone also depends heavily on GPMC.

Both models provide an Arduino expansion header with optional I2C and SPI access from the SBC. In addition, dual PMOD expansion ports support up to 50 PMOD-compatible peripherals, starting with options provided by ValentFX: a Logi-Cam and a Logi-Edu (see farther below).

Displays are supported via 10 length-tuned LVDS pairs, and storage is handled with a SATA port. Pushbuttons and DIP switches are also supplied. A total of 32 (Logi-Bone) or 44 (Logi-Pi) FPGA I/O signals are accessible via the Arduino and PMOD expansion ports.

Logi-Pi (left) and Logi-Bone block diagrams
(click images to enlarge)

Specifications listed for the Logi-Boards (Logi-Bone and Logi-Pi) include:

  • FPGA — Xilinx Spartan-6 LX9 (XC6SLX9-3TQG144C); TQFP144 package
  • Memory — 256MB SDRAM
  • ARM support:
    • Logi-Bone — connects with (optimized) BeagleBone Black (1GHz Cortex-A8 TI Sitara AM3359) or original BeagleBone White (720MHz Sitara AM3358)
    • Logi-Pi — connects with Raspberry Pi (700MHz ARM11 Broadcom BCM2835)
  • Arduino expansion:
    • Arduino header for 200+ Arduino shields
    • Optional I2C, SPI access
  • PMOD expansion — 2x PMOD ports (Digilent) for 50 modules including Logi-Cam and Logi-Edu
  • Display — 10x length tuned LVDS pairs
  • Storage — 1x SATA x1 connector
  • Other I/O:
    • 2x pushbuttons
    • 2x DIP switches
    • 2x LEDs
    • 32x (Logi-Bone) or 44x (Logi-Pi) FPGA I/Os (via PMOD and Arduino connectors)
    • Unpopulated JTAG interface
  • Other features — 50MHz MEMS oscillator
  • Power — 6V max., 4V min. via BB Black of RPi connector; 1A external power supply for SBCs recommended

Logi-Edu and Logi-Cam

The optional Logi-Edu plugs into one of the Logi-Board PMOD connector to provide an educational platform for learning the basics of FPGAs and HDL design. Specific examples include a graphic controller, PicoBlaze, VGS controller, and external memory devices.

(click images to enlarge)

The Logi-Edu board offers features including:
  • 4x seven segment character display
  • VGA output (9-bit)
  • 2x PS/2
  • 2x PWM or delta sigma audio outputs
  • 2x NES (Nintendo original) controllers
  • 2x Servo connectors
  • Breadboard area utilizing 10x shared GPIO pins

The Logi-Cam PMOD add-on module was not mentioned in the Newark announcement, but is listed on the product page. The Logi-Cam offers a plug and play connection with Omnivision OV7670 and OV7725 modules. It features an expansion port to add a flash or external light with pass transistor and series current limiting resistor.

Further information

The Logi-Pi and Logi-Bone is each available for $94.72. The Logi-Edu goes for $45.48, and the Logi-Cam sells for $31.32. Extensive documentation may be found at the Newark Element14 Logi-Boards product page, as well as at ValentFX.

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One response to “FPGA add-on boards support Raspberry Pi, BeagleBone Black”

  1. John Beetem says:

    Newark element14 sold earlier versions of LOGI-Pi, LOGI-Bone, and LOGI-Edu last year. They’ve just introduced new versions of the three boards. According to the element14 product page, the pricing is US$89.99 for LOGI-Pi or LOGI-Bone, and US$39.99 for LOGI-Edu.

    There are a number of ‘blogs and discussions about the LOGI boards at element14’s FPGA group:

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