I first wrote about Silego and their GreenPAK (GPAK) devices a couple of years ago. (See: Silego’s GreenPAK – Design and program a custom chip in minutes.) The way I think of GPAK chips is as super-small mixed-signal FPGAs that you can design and program in just a few inutes and that cost just a few cents each.
At that time, Silego's GPAK1 devices were presented in tiny 8-pin 2mm x 2mm surface mount packages. With an operating voltage of 3.3V, GPAK1 components contained one 8-bit SAR analog-to-digital converter (DAC), two analog/digital comparators, one internal voltage reference, seven lookup tables (LUTS) (2 x 2-bit, 4 x 3-bit, and 1 x 4-bit), three flip-flops/latches, one pulse-width modulator (PWL), three counters/delays, and one internal oscillator.
Sometime later, Silego introduced its GPAK2 devices. (See: Yes! Silego’s GreenPAK 2 chips and mini-dev boards are here!.) These are a little larger, with 12 pins presented in a 2.5mm x 2.5mm package. Supporting an operating voltage of 1.8 to 5.5V, these devices offered increased functionality, including three analog/digital comparators, eleven LUTs (4 x 2-bit, 6 x 3-bit, and 1 x 4-bit), four flip-flops/latches, three PWMs, four counters/delays, and an SPI interface.
Now, I'm delighted to hear that Silego has just unveiled its GPAK3 family. The new SLG46721 and SLG46722 devices allow designers to integrate up to 30 discrete and passive components into a single device in a tiny package (2mm x 3mm).
The 20-pin (18-I/O) GPAK3 devices offer increased capacity, functionality, performance, and precision. These new devices can support a host of applications, including power supply sequencing, sensor interfaces, programmable resets, and lighting control. Targets include medical devices, scientific instruments, industrial control systems, telecom systems, and consumer devices like digital cameras, smartphones, and tablet computers.
The associated GPAK Designer software is a 100% graphical user interface (GUI) that allows engineers to capture their circuits without requiring any code, compilers, or library files. There's also an associated development board.
If you want to discover more about GPAK devices and the GPAK Designer software -- including pricing, samples, datasheets, and technical information -- visit Silego.com.
Personally I think the GPAK concept is wonderful. I love the idea of an incredibly low-power mixed-signal FPGA that allows me to quickly and easily implement the same functionality as 30 discrete components, thereby offering dramatically savings in terms of cost, power, and PCB real estate.
Of course, these devices really shine when it comes to large production runs. However, since I just discovered that the minimum order is now only 10 parts, I'm seriously thinking of using some of these in my Inamorata Prognostication Engine project (I can use a SMT to LTH adapter if necessary). Maybe Duane and I should add a special landing area / pad footprint on our Bodacious Screw-Block Proto-Shield for Arduino. Meanwhile, I'd be very interested to hear what you think about the GPAK concept.
— Max Maxfield, Editor of All Things Fun & Interesting