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PIF - FPGA for the Raspberry Pi

pif

What is it?

The pif board brings a powerful FPGA to the Raspberry Pi. FPGAs are programmable digital chips - here are some of the features of the pif FPGA:

Firmware determines how the pif FPGA uses these resources. Firmware starts with a program which is then converted into a configuration bitstream and injected into the FPGA. Usually FPGAs are programmed in a Hardware Definition Language (HDL). Most commonly this is VHDL or Verilog, though there are alternatives such as the Python based MyHDL. Here is a tiny fragment of VHDL code:

constant MAX : integer := 55;
signal counter : integer range 0 to MAX := 0;
-- counting happens when the clock ticks
process (clock) begin
  if rising_edge(clock) then
    if resetSignal or (counter=MAX) then
      counter <= 0;
    else
      counter <= counter + 1;
    end if;
    outputSig <= (counter=MAX);
  end if;
end process;

The development process is this:

For the pif board, simulation and compilation software is a free download from Lattice Semiconductor. We supply Python software to inject the bitstream into the FPGA.

FPGAs come in a huge range of sizes, with the latest and greatest FPGAs typically costing as much as a small motor car. Since an FPGA LUT is approximately equivalent to a 10cm (4") square logic board with four TTL logic packages, the 1280 LUTs in the smallest pif board are equivalent to a wall of logic measuring 350cmx350cm (140"x140"), more if SRAMs, PLLs and so on are included in the calculation.

Key features

pif-1200, including software $24.99 Add to Cart

pif-7000, including software $34.99 Add to Cart

Software

Download the software bundle from the Github repo here.

More information

The manual is here and the schematic is here.

Please note that the pif board is designed for users who are familiar with electronic design and debugging, and familiar with the usual safety precautions when working with electronic equipment.