Everything is moving faster and faster these days. When it comes to designing electronic products, there is a constant race to get the latest and greatest version out the door.
Now, it's difficult, time-consuming, resource-intensive, and risky to design a completely new product from the ground up, so a very common scenario is to take an existing product and augment it with new functionality and upgrade it with a new look-and-feel.
In order to address both types of scenarios -- upgrading an existing product or introducing a new product -- Lattice Semiconductor has just announced its new iCE40 Ultra FPGA family.
In addition to programmable fabric, these small, low-cost FPGAs also contain a suite of hard IP cores that improve performance while reducing power consumption. Take the three 24 mA constant current sinks, for example. These pulse-width modulated (PWM) outputs can be used to control three regular LEDs or one tri-colored LED, and to provide the sophisticated effects -- like "breathing" -- that today's users have come to expect.
If an ASSP got married to an FPGA, then the members of the iCE40 Ultra family would be their children. These devices are ideal for creating interface and protocol bridges, implementing timing and control systems, realizing state machines and process algorithms, and providing "instant-on" and "always-on" functionality without having to wake the main power-guzzling application processor.
The folks at Lattice are so enthusiastic about this new family that they've created a special infographic that captures all sorts of information:.
The smallest iCE40 Ultra device comes in a WLCS (wafer-level chip-scale) package measuring just 1.7 x 2.1 x 0.45 mm. In addition to consumer handheld devices -- including, but not limited to, smartphones, tablets, and wearables -- iCE40 Ultra FPGAs also target industrial, over-the-counter medical, and scientific handheld devices that can benefit from their small size and high performance.
For those who want to experiment, a breakout board is available with the 36-ball WLCSP package on board along with LEDs to run the RGB LED and infrared LED functions.
Lattice says iCE40 Ultra FPGAs are available for less than $0.50 each in volume, but they don’t say what type of "volume" we're talking about. Based on the fact that Lattice is really starting to target high-volume markets, I'd guess that we're talking about typical smartphone-type volumes here, which would be... hmmm... I'm guessing 1 to 5 million units, maybe?
All previous iCE40LM reference designs are available for use with the iCE40 Ultra, along with a new iCE40 Ultra System demonstration platform on the website. Click here for more information.
— Max Maxfield, Editor of All Things Fun & Interesting