ICE40 hand held

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codifies
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ICE40 hand held

Unread post by codifies » Sun Jan 13, 2019 3:27 am

I have an odroid-go and while messing around with it, it occurred to me that the ICE40 FPGA could make an interesting system, and because of its open source tool chain would fit in quite nicely with odroid...

While the ICE40 is more capable than you'd think (with loads and loads of GPIO's) its internal bram is rather limited (16KB) but as it can behave like dual port memory it might be better used as cache and scratchpad, so any system would really need some external RAM, (static ram might be nice for ease of programming but its not cheap)

the ICE40 is quite capable of outputting VGA signals (I know because I've used it for this) so could easily either continuously refresh a LCD or at the very least its got plenty of pins for a parallel interface.

As with FPGA's you're in effect creating a custom circuit, you don't need 100's of mhz to emulate a system as you're not actually simulating so you don't have that overhead.... so even if the main clock only has quite a modest clock speed it shouldn't be a problem.

add in some decent buttons like the silicon ones the go has and an SD card slot and you could have an interesting system to play with. It may be worth adding some simple dedicated sound hardware as this shouldn't need to change too much and would save FPGA real estate.

an adventurous design could include two FPGA's one for sound and video processing and another for general processing, but this would surely ramp up the price...

codifies
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Re: ICE40 hand held

Unread post by codifies » Tue Jan 15, 2019 9:47 am

I've just found out that another lattice FPGA (the ECP5) has now also got an open source tool chain!
This is a much more capable chip such that someone has already got the famous minimig (amiga simulation) running on an open ECP5 board this would be great for retro gaming as large catalogues of games like GBA games should also be playable
https://www.latticesemi.com/Products/FP ... /ECP5.aspx
https://hackaday.com/2019/01/14/ulx3s-a ... -fpga-pcb/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mPIfhLXsYkQ minimig (yes that TINY board hanging off the monitor is the whole hardware used!)

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Re: ICE40 hand held

Unread post by odroid » Tue Jan 15, 2019 11:37 am

I don't think the GBA ARM7TDMI core with cache/system RAM can be implemented on a small FPGA.

codifies
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Re: ICE40 hand held

Unread post by codifies » Tue Jan 15, 2019 5:46 pm

its *not* a small FPGA (the ECP5) if you can implement a complete Amiga with all its attendant chipset (copper, blitter etc) you can certainly implement an ARM cpu (instead of 68000) and the 2d acceleration on the GBA

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