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An Extensive Overview of Intel MAX 10 FPGA Boards

Intel’s MAX 10 FPGA boards are the latest development boards, designed with a focus on connectivity and coherence. With extensive integration of physical and virtual functions, this board gives you a wide range of capabilities. So, you can use it for a myriad of applications.

The Max 10 FPGA Board features an Intel Atom processor with an Integrated HD Graphics Media Accelerator. As a result, it has over four times the memory capacity compared to the XScale SoC used by previous Intel MAX boards.

Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs) are increasingly finding their way into embedded systems. They provide flexibility and innovative capabilities not found in traditional CPUs. However, it all comes at a cost, with FPGAs often requiring complex external interface boards to work. So, Intel wants to change this with their new MAX 10 FPGA Board line optimized for ease of use without sacrificing power or performance.

History of Intel MAX 10 FPGA Boards

In 1980, Intel invented the first commercial x86 microprocessor, or “386.” So, it set the groundwork for the personal computer revolution. Additionally, in the mid-1980s, Intel developed the first microprocessors for IBM’s computer line.

In 1995, Intel joined IBM in co-founding a new standard known as the International Standard Industrial Classification (ISIC). But we use it to classify businesses around the world. In the 1990s and 2000s, Intel devoted a large portion of its revenues to R&D activities, spending $8.8 billion in 2014 alone.

Intel engineers Rakesh Kumar and Aravind Srinivasan designed the products. The project was part of the Intel Computer Society Academy (ISAAC) class. Therefore, it is now sold commercially under the name MAX10. The Supercomputer Education Alliance (SCALE) utilizes FPGA boards for their courses. Some are following the scaling back of a commercial version of MAX 10 since these are programmable.

Intel MAX 10 FPGA Boards features

Intel’s Intel MAX 10 FPGA board has many features that make it an invaluable tool for available applications.

  1. High-performance ARM processor. With a high-performance Intel Atom processor and Intel Graphics Media Accelerator, the MAX 10 FPGA board delivers a wide range of features and benefits. SO, it connects to computer systems through a high-performance bus.
  2. Flexible connectivity. The MAX 10 FPGA board provides a highly flexible platform for applications that require fast data transfer to and from peripheral devices and systems beyond the immediate physical boundaries of the FPGA board.
  3. High-Performance DDR3 memory. The MAX 10 FPGA board provides high-capacity DDR3 memory. It enables designers such as RayMing PCB and Assembly to use advanced data structures. For instance, dynamic arrays and hash tables, to increase performance, improve task throughput and compression.
  4. High-Performance Gigabit Ethernet PHY. The MAX 10 FPGA board provides high-efficiency Gigabit Ethernet wire-speed connectivity over PCI Express. Most importantly, MAX 10 FPGA board enables designers to leverage the system bus as a high-performance data link and a connectivity mechanism for peripheral devices.
  5. Integrated HDMI Video, Audio, and USB 2.0 interface. The MAX 10 FPGA board has an integrated HDMI video, USB 2.0, an audio interface that enables designers to build multimedia-enabled systems with high-resolution video capabilities.
  6. Wide range of physical interface support: The MAX 10 FPGA board supports various physical interfaces such as UART, SPI, I2C, and I2S.
  7. Integrated Dual Video DSP engine. With its built-in multi-media engine, the MAX 10 FPGA board enables designers to build systems with advanced multi-media capabilities. Such as HD Video voice and HD Video data compression and enhanced HD Audio processing.

The difference between FPGA and CPLD

You can think of FPGA as an array of reconfigurable logic blocks connected by the programmable switches.

CPLD is an acronym for “complex programmable logic device” and is a subset of FPGA.

We use FPGAs to implement large digital systems while using CPLDs in the same applications. CPLDs contain fewer gates than FPGAs. Hence, they are less expensive to develop at the early design stages. Both are reprogrammable devices.

CPLD usually contains an internal memory to reduce the pin count, proving more efficient for designing embedded systems.

FPGAs allow for faster switching between states. Moreover, It makes them more attractive when the design requires fast reconfiguration of logic blocks.

CPLD and FPGA are both designed for fast hardware. For clock speed, the differences between them are minimal. However, In terms of latency, they can be quite different. FPGAs allow you to move from one point to another without waiting for a bus cycle time. While CPLDs must wait for a bus cycle time and then enter the next state in the block.

The FPGAs have been around for a while, and CPLDs have only been around since the 1980s.

FPGAs are still a “newer” technology. We frequently use CPLDs in some embedded systems designs, especially when they need real-time functionality.

CPLD and FPGA allow users to design complex systems more quickly. They do this by implementing digital components using a programmable hardware architecture. These devices can do everything from simple arithmetic to complex neural network-based applications.

Why is FPGA preferred over CPLD?

Many embedded systems need real-time reconfiguration. It means we need to configure the system frequently. If there were no onboard FPGA, we would need to reconfigure the system every time the microprocessor boots up or when special events happen. But, the system would not function as designed and could even malfunction.

Real-time FPGAs allow a host processor to communicate with a specific device on a given bus clock cycle. The host FPGA can be a microcontroller, a microprocessor, a DMA controller, an Ethernet MAC, or even a display device.

Choosing the right host is essential to get the best performance possible from an embedded FPGA system. So, we must consider many factors in choosing which type of FPGA to use in your design, including speed and power consumption. Future host devices may require more processing power if they process more data in the same amount of time.

FPGAs help implement complex digital or analog systems. We design these circuits hardware description language (HDL) integrated into the design flow.

Intel MAX 10 FPGA Boards design

The MAX10 FPGA board has three different versions: the MAX10 w/OIO, MAX10 w/IO, and MAX10. These boards use standard FPGA devices from Altera and Xilinx.

If the FPGA board is an input controller board, proper internal digital logic gates may be a useful design feature. For example, a state machine or a flip-flop to handle a timer interrupt.

Specialized digital logic blocks will be useful when handling communication between the host processor and the FPGA board. This communication is possible using a communication protocol.

Designers specially design protocols to allow communication between different devices in different formats. They develop some protocols to communicate over large distances. In comparison, some are for communication close. One example is OpenCores’ TCP server, which allows communication with a remote node using TCP/IP protocol over an Ethernet network. Another example is the SPI master, which allows communication between two nodes using a master-slave protocol over an SPI bus.

The decision to choose the right type of FPGA for an embedded system depends on the system’s

When choosing whether to use an FPGA or CPLD for a particular application, we must consider several factors. For example, the frequency and number of outputs are essential if you need real-time data transmission.

Advantages of Intel MAX 10 FPGA Boards

The advantages of using FPGA for embedded systems include:

  1. Customizable Logic Block Mixing. FPGAs offer the ability to create numerous different kinds of logic blocks to suit any requirement or application. Customizable logic blocks allow users to create custom layouts for their systems.
  2. Internal Digital Logic Blocks. Designers dedicate digital logic blocks to a specific function. They also build some digital logic blocks. In other words, this is to allow more flexibility in design.
  3. High Performance and Low Power. FPGA boards are helpful in applications where we need high performance. You meet Performance requirements using FPGAs due to their high-speed interfaces. As a result, it can transfer data at high-speed rates.
  4. Shifting Technique. Reducing power consumption by 50% means less heat generated during operation and faster system start-up times.
  5. Built-in DMA Controller: The MAX 10, 10+, and 10++ have a built-in DMA controller that lets users program the data transfer between MAX device and memory.
  6. Lowest System Development Cost (SDLC): FPGAs are low-cost compared to other technologies. To save development costs, one can make FPGA boards in volume. So, they can reduce the cost of each board.
  7. Preset PLL Clock Output: It has a preset PLL clock output. In general, many embedded systems require a very stable clock signal. Since it’s connected to digital processors that capture data from the sensor.
  8. Interrupt-Driven I/O at 8 MHz: With the MAX 10, MAX 10+, and MAX 10++ series, you can program up to fifty I/O pins for interrupt-driven use.
  9. Built-in Serial Peripheral Interface (SPI) Master: The SPI Master on the MAX 10, MAX 10+ and MAX 10++ series will work with the DataFlash, SD Card Modules.

Disadvantages of Intel MAX 10 FPGA Boards

The disadvantages of using FPGA for embedded systems include:

  1. Achieving 100% FPGA utilization requires more development effort.
  2. Each logic block requires its power supply, which increases the board’s complexity and cost.
  3. Constraints of the SERDES link cause delays, which in turn limit the maximum data throughput to 2 Gbps.
  4. The current x1 link speed is low compared to Ethernet or USB.
  5. MAX10 uses an internal clock of 8 MHz. Some FPGA boards available on the market use internal clocks of 32 MHz for faster performances but at the cost of lower processing speed.
  6. Bandwidth between the FPGA and host processor requires more complexity than USB or Ethernet.
  7. Using an internal clock requires additional components to generate an external clock signal.
  8. Designing the FPGA system takes longer than using a processor to implement the same system.


Types of Intel MAX 10 FPGA Boards

Intel MAX 10 DCU324 PLCC68 FPGA Module

AP68-10 offers you a functional 68pin PLCC FPGA module with 1×10/100/1000M Ethernet and 1×1, two, and 4x USB2 ports. The AP68-10  also comes with a built-in HDMI port and a powerful audio codec. So, it brings you an ingenious tiny hardware system for combining with Intel Atom x5-Z8300 CPU.

The Intel MAX 10 FPGA boards require hardware such as display adapters or other peripherals such as cameras. They also require the use of the operating system that runs on the computer. This module supports SLVS and is a dual-supply version of the Max 10. Because of its compact size, you can easily use the AP68-10 series in a universal board using DIP PLCC. It only uses a 3.3V single power supply that can accommodate up to 50 user I/Os.

The AP68-10 has two versions which include AP68-10-08 and AP68-10-16.

AP68-10-08 (10M08DCU324I7G) has the following features:

  • 50 max user I/O pins (Board)
  • 246 Maximum user I/O pins (device)
  • 2 PLLs
  • 24 18x18multipliers
  • 1376 user flash memory (kb)
  • 378 M9K Blocks (kb)
  • 8 logical elements

The AP68-10-16 (10M16DCU324I7G) has the following features:

  • 246 Maximum user I/O pins (device)
  • 4 PLL
  • 45 18x18multipliers
  • 2368 user flash memory (kb)
  • 549 M9K Blocks (kb)
  • 16 logical elements

Intel MAX 10 U169 FPGA board (5V I/O support)

It is a high-end FPGA development board for applications. Intel MAX 10 U169 FPGA board requires higher throughput and more limited latency. As a result, you can achieve this by using high-frequency DDR3 memory.

Specifications:

  • Made In Japan
  • RoHS compliance
  • Tested all I/O
  • Credit-Card-Size (86 x 54 mm)
  • High-quality six layers PCB.
  • USB-UART Function(CDC Driver)-USB Mini-B Connector
  • JTAG Connector (10 pin socket) for download cable connection
  • Power-on Reset IC
  • Status LED (Power, CONF_DONE)
  • User LED x1
  • Internal Configuration Device
  • User Switch x1 (DIP)
  • Direction controls for each 8 bit I/Os
  • 5 V user I/O with Bus transceiver ICs
  • 2.54 mm 100 I/O PAD 100 mil grid
  • Power: 5 V single supply

The ACM-031 series has two versions which include ACM-031-08 and ACM-031-16.

ACM-031-08 (FPGA 10M08SAU169C8G) has the following features:

  • 100 maximum user I/O pins (Boards)
  • 130 maximum user I/O pins (Device)
  • 1 PLL
  • 24 18×18 multipliers
  • 1376kb User Flash Memory
  • 378kb M9K Memory
  • 8k Logic Elements

The ACM-031-16 (FPGA 10M16SAU169C8G) has the following features:

  • 100 maximum user I/O pins (Boards)
  • 130 maximum user I/O pins (Device)
  • 1 PLL
  • 45 18×18 multipliers
  • 2368kb User Flash Memory
  • 549kb M9K Memory
  • 16k Logic Elements

Intel MAX 10 U169 FPGA board (5V Tolerant)

The ACM-031Y is Intel’s 5V tolerant version of the popular MAX 10 FPGA development board. This board is a high-end FPGA development kit with a high-performance system-on-a-chip processor. It has a high bandwidth memory subsystem for applications requiring higher throughput and shorter latency. Additionally, the ACM-031Y design uses Intel’s FPGA with hardened logic to ensure the reliable operation of 5V tolerant applications.

The Specifications for Intel MAX 10 10M08SAU169C8G and 10M16SAU169C8G are like Intel MAX 10 U169 FPGA board (5V I/O support) series except for the following feature:

  • 30 MHz Oscillator
  • 3.3V or 5V single power supply

Intel MAX 10 F672 FPGA board

The ACM-207 F is Intel’s high-end FPGA development board, featuring an Intel® Cyclone V SoC FPGA, the largest series, plus DDR3 memory. Additionally, it includes a high-performance system-on-a-chip processor and a high bandwidth memory subsystem. Manufacturers developed the ACM-207F to meet emerging needs for increased capacity in Ultra Large-Scale Systems. Such as next-generation 5G base stations and other large data centers. So, it maximizes successive generations of hardware and software.

Specification:

  • Made In Japan
    • RoHS compliance
    • Credit-Card-Size (86 x 54 mm)
    • JTAG Connector (10 pin socket)
    • Power-on Reset IC
    • User LED x2
    • Status LED (Power, Done)
    • User Switch x3 (Push x1, DIP x2 bit)
    • 30 MHz Oscillator (External clock input pins)
    • User I/O: 296 (HIROSE connectors, 80 pin x2, 100 pin x2)
    • USB-UART I/F
    • SPI-FLASH ROM: N25Q032 (Micron, 32Mbit)
    • Internal Configuration Device
    • MRAM: MR2A16AMA35 (256Kx16bit)
    • 3.3 V single power supply (2.5 V and 1.2 V onboard regulators)

The ACM-207 series has two versions which include ACM-207-40 and ACM-207-50.

ACM-207-40 (FPGA 10M40DCF672C8G) has the following features:

  • 296 maximum user I/O pins (Boards)
    • 500 maximum user I/O pins (Device)
    • 4 PLLs
    • 4 18×18 multipliers
    • 5888kb User Flash Memory
    • 1260kb M9K Memory
    • 40k Logic Elements

The ACM-207-50 (FPGA 10M50DCF672C8G) has the following features:

  • 296 maximum user I/O pins (Boards)
    • 500 maximum user I/O pins (Device)
    • 4 PLLs
    • 4 18×18 multipliers
    • 5888kb User Flash Memory
    • 1260kb M9K Memory
    • 50k Logic Elements

[ACM-110] Intel MAX 10FPGA board

The ACM-110 is a low-cost board that is useful in various applications requiring a low-power FPGA solution. So, this board meets the needs of many embedded system designers. It is also suitable for use in low power gate-array applications.

Specification:

  • Made In Japan
    • RoHS compliance
    • Tested all I/O
    • Compact size (43 x 54 mm)
    • High-quality eight-layer PCB
    • JTAG Connector (10 pin socket) for download cable connection
    • Power-on Reset IC
    • User LED x2
    • Status LED (Power, Done)
    • User Switch x2 (Push x1, Slide x1)
    • Onboard Oscillator (30MHz)
    • Internal Configuration Device
    • MRAM (MR2A16AMA35 256Kx16bit)
    • A/D Conversion Input : 9 (12bits/1Msps)
    • 128 user I/O (with two 80pin HIROSE connectors)
    • Power: 3.3 V single-supply operation

The ACM-110series has two versions which include ACM-110-08 and ACM-110-50.

ACM-110-08 (FPGA 10M40DCF672C8G) has the following features:

  • 128 maximum user I/O pins (Boards)
    • 250 maximum user I/O pins (Device)
    • 17 ADC Channels (12bit/1Msps)
    • 2 PLLs
    • 24 18×18 multipliers
    • 1376kb User Flash Memory
    • 378kb M9K Memory
    • 8k Logic Elements

The ACM-110-50 (FPGA 10M50DCF672C8G) has the following features:

  • 128 maximum user I/O pins (Boards)
    • 360 maximum user I/O pins (Device)
    • 9+9 ADC Channels (12bit/1Msps)
    • 4 PLLs
    • 144 18×18 multipliers
    • 5888kb User Flash Memory
    • 1638kb M9K Memory
    • 50k Logic Elements

[AP68-08] Intel MAX 10 PLCC68 FPGA Module

The AP68-8 is Intel’s low-cost PLCC68 FPGA module, featuring a low-power FPGA with 1×10/100/1000M Ethernet and 1×1, two, and 4x USB2 ports. With its built-in HDMI port and powerful audio codec, this product is for the high-performance embedded system market. Therefore, the MAX 10 FPGA board has several components that provide interfaces to other parts of the system design.

Specification:

  • Made In Japan
    • RoHS compliance
    • Tested all I/O
    • Compact PLCC size
    • High-quality eight layers PCB
    • Power-on Reset IC for stable FPGA configuration
    • One Status LED (Config Done: Green)
    • Onboard Oscillator, 50MHz (LVTTL)
    • SPI-FLASH-ROM: M25P16 (Micron, 16Mbit)
    • Separated Vccio (VIO(A) and VIO(B))
    • 3.3 V single power supply operation
    • PLCC 68pin package

The AP68-8 (FPGA 10M08SAU169C8G) has the following features:

  • 50 maximum user I/O pins (Boards)
    • 130 maximum user I/O pins (Device)
    • 17 ADC Channels (12bit/1Msps)
    • 1 PLL
    • 24 18×18 multipliers
    • 1376kb User Flash Memory
    • 378kb M9K Memory
    • 8k Logic Elements

[ACM-030] Intel MAX 10FPGA board

The ACM-030 design uses Intel’s FPGA with hardened logic to ensure the reliable operation of 5V tolerant applications.

Specification:

  • Made In Japan
    • RoHS compliance
    • Tested all I/O
    • Credit-Card-Size (86 x 54 mm)
    • High-quality six-layer PCB.
    • JTAG Connector (10 pin socket)
    • Power-on Reset IC
    • Status LED (Power, Done)
    • User Switch x2 (push x1, slide x1)
    • Onboard Oscillator (30MHz)
    • Internal Configuration Device
    • User LED x2
    • MicroSD Card Slot
    • MRAM (MR2A16AMA35 256Kx16bit)
    • A/D Conversion Input : 8 (12bit/1Msps)
    • 2.54mm 100 I/O PAD 100 mil grid
    • Power: onboard 2.5V/1.2V regulators

The ACM-030 (FPGA 10M08DAF484C8G) has the following features:

  • 50 maximum user I/O pins (Boards)
    • 130 maximum user I/O pins (Device)
    • 17 ADC Channels (device)
    • 8 ADC Channels (board)
    • 2 PLL
    • 24 18×18 multipliers
    • 1376kb User Flash Memory
    • 378kb M9K Memory
    • 8k Logic Elements

[ACM-306] Intel MAX 10FPGA board

This board comprises the ACM-306-08 and the ACM-306-25 products. The ACM-306 contains the MAX 10 FPGA and several integrated interfaces. For example, multiple USB ports, Ethernet, and I2C.

Specifications:

  • Made In Japan
    • RoHS compliance
    • Tested all I/O
    • Compact size
    • User LED x1
    • High-quality four-layer PCB
    • JTAG Connector (10 pin socket)
    • Power-on Reset IC
    • Status LED (Power, Done)
    • User Switch x2 (Push x1, Slide x1)
    • On-board 30MHz Oscillator
    • Internal Configuration Device
    • A/D Conversion Input: 9 (12bit/1Msps)
    • 56 I/O (100 mil (2.54 mm) grid)
    • 3.3 V single power supply operation

The ACM-306-08 (FPGA 10M08SAE144C8G) has the following features:

  • 56 maximum user I/O pins (Boards)
    • 101 maximum user I/O pins (Device)
    • 9 ADC Channels (board)
    • 1 PLLs
    • 9 ADC Channels (device)
    • 24 18×18 multipliers
    • 1376kb User Flash Memory
    • 378kb M9K Memory
    • 8k Logic Elements

The ACM-306-25 (FPGA 10M25SAE144C8G) has the following features:

  • 56 maximum user I/O pins (Boards)
    • 101 maximum user I/O pins (Device)
    • 9 ADC Channels (board)
    • 1 PLLs
    • 55 18×18 multipliers
    • 9 ADC Channels (device)
    • 3200kb User Flash Memory
    • 675kb M9K Memory
    • 25k Logic Elements

Conclusion

In conclusion, the Intel MAX 10 FPGA board is very appealing for developers. As a result, it can work with several complex applications and for any design or computing task quickly and efficiently. So, the Max 10 FPGA board is a great tool to use in many situations. For instance, hardware development and system designs, including multi-media devices and IoT components.