As you may recall, a few weeks ago I wrote about GreenPAK 1 chips from Silego (Click Here to see that article). As I said in that column: “The way I think of the GreenPAK 1 is as a super-small mixed-signal FPGA that you can design and program in just a few minutes and that costs only a few cents.”
GreenPAK 1 chips come in the form of an 8-pin 2mm x 2mm surface mount package. Containing a mix of programmable digital logic and programmable analog functionality, these little rascals (the chips, not the folks from Silego) are ideal for many designs for replacing 4 and 8-bit microcontrollers, integrating glue logic, implementing level shifters, power-on resets, voltage monitors, analog comparators, and a wide range of other utility functions while reducing the component count of a design.
Now, when I say “mixed-signal FPGA”, I’m not talking about a honking big device that could fly a space shuttle and consumes a corresponding amount of power. What I’m talking about is a really tiny chip that can be used to gather up and replace the functionality of a bunch of other simple chip son the board, thereby saving cost, power, and board real estate. In a typical usage scenario, a GreenPAK 1 will replace 10 to 15 components, but one of Silego’s customers actually managed to replace 36 components, which is pretty significant whichever way you look at it.
Well, the exciting news is that Silego recently announced their GreenPAK 2 devices. These are a little larger (12-pins in a 2.5mm x 2.5mm package) and provide a substantial increase in functionality:
Development board and design software
But wait, there’s more, because the folks at Silego have also introduced a GreenPAK 2 Mini Development and Programmer Board along with their GreenPAK 2 Designer software.
The new GreenPAK 2 Designer software follows the same “tried and true” formula that made the GreenPAK 1 Designer software so easy to use – that is, a 100% graphical user interface that allows engineers to capture their circuits without requiring any code, compilers, or library files. The folks at Silego say that using the GreenPAK 2 Designer software is as simple as drawing your design on a whiteboard – and having played with it I would agree with them.
Snapshot of the GreenPAK 2 Designer graphical user interface
In addition to capturing the circuit, GreenPAK 2 Designer also allows users to create test platforms for their designs without having to actually program the device.
Snapshot of the GreenPAK 2 test development interface
After capturing the circuit, the user can create a testbench that uses the external switches and the small microcontroller on the GreenPAK 2 Mini-Development and Programmer Board to verify the design. The designer can continue to modify the design and retest the device until he or she is satisfied, at which time the Mini Development and Programmer Board can be used to fully program the device.
GreenPAK 2 Mini-Development and Programmer Board
As an aside, the folks at Silego are really targeting large production runs, but the GreenPAK 1 and 2 chips are also of interest for people doing smaller runs or even working on hobby projects. My chum Brian found a company that sells little surface mount to DIP adapters – and they will even solder the surface mount chips on the adapter for you for a small fee (Click Here
for more details).
Brian also tracked down something called SchmartBoards that allow regular folks to solder surface mount components by hand (Click Here
and Click Here
to see videos of this).
But we digress – if you are interested in learning more about GreanPAK 2 chips, Designer Software, and the Mini-Development Board, please visit http://greenpak2.silego.com
The Designer software can be downloaded for free and the Mini-Development board can be purchased from the Silego Store for $49.00.
For additional questions regarding the GreenPAK 2 Designer software, Development tools and hardware please contact Silego via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
or via phone: 408-327-8800.
Alternatively, you can email the following folks (just say “Max” sent you):
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