This week’s EYE ON NPI is a super exciting new Feather board that isn’t from us! The Alorium Evo M51 is an FPGA-enhanced embedded module featuring the Microchip SAMD51 32-bit Arm® Cortex®-M4 microcontroller alongside an Intel® MAX 10 FPGA. The Evo M51 board conforms to the Adafruit Feather specification for primary pinout, connectivity, and features – so you can use FeatherWings with this board to add WiFi, OLED or TFT displays, and more!
This Feather has a SAMD51 as a main microcontroller processor – we like this chip because it has a fast 120MHz Cortex M4 processor with lots of peripherals like I2C, SPI, UART, ADCs, DACs, lots of DMA, etc. Our Feather M4 features this chip, and it’s one of our most popular Feathers. Alorium squished it down to a BGA package and used the left over space to wire up an Altera/Intel MAX 10 FPGA that can be programmed through the SAMD51 using a command line downloader.
By using a SAMD51, which we’ve supported for a while, this board comes automatically with Arduino and CircuitPython support – that makes programming easy and fast. On the other hand, when you need to get speed, connect to peripherals like cameras or HDMI displays, or perform exceptional calculations very fast… the FPGA is there to lend a hand. You can send messages between the EVO and SAMD51 using I2C or 10-bit parallel bus, so you can take advantage of the easy-to-integrate SAMD51 and the powerful-and-customizable FPGA. You get the best of both worlds!
Now, in order to pack so much into a Feather format, a few liberties were taken. For example, the classic 12/16 pin headers go to the SAMD51 and are compatible with FeatherWings. Then the FPGA pins are available on a collection of castellated pads. There’s an ‘EvoTray” add on board that you can solder the EVO M51 to in order to get breakouts for all the castellations.
- Intel MAX 10 FPGA
- Microchip SAMD51 32-bit Arm Cortex-M4 microcontroller
- 512 KB Flash / 192 KB RAM
- 2 MB external Flash
- 55 digital I/Os
- 21 through-hole/castellated
- 34 additional castellated-only
- Six analog inputs
- Two analog outputs
- STEMMA QT (QWIIC Compatible)
- Feather footprint
- 0.9 inches x 2.2 inches
- Programmable with Arduino
- Designed for CircuitPython
Alorium is also a digital service provider for Intel/Altera FPGAs so you can hire them to help out with your design or get it optimized for manufacturing (video).
Considering a single MAX10M25 is about $85 per, getting an EVO M51 fully assembled AND with a co-processor AND Arduino/CircuitPython support AND video tutorials for $97 – it’s a great deal. If Digi-Key is out of stock, you can backorder it and they’ll get you one ASAP – being an NPI there’s not a ton of stock right now.
See more in the video below: