GreenPAK mixed signal array

in components by the machinegeek | 17 comments


Knowing of our interest in programmable logic, Mike writes to inform us of a PLD by Silego:

Silego programmable mixed-signal arrays are a combination of a very small programmable logic device (10 LUTs) plus some common functional blocks (flops, SPI, counters, PWMs), an ADC and couple of comparators.

From the Maker perspective, the packages are a bit fiddly, but the design tools are free (Windows and Mac OS X), and the parts ($0.29 @ 100pcs) and programmer ($50 incl. 50 OTP devices) are very affordable.

You can find the Designer User Guide which describes the programming IDE along with more information on these components at the Silego GreenPAK webpage. We note that unlike conventional CPLD/FPGAs, these are one-time writeable. You cannot reprogram them to correct or update code. Also, they come in a 2.5mm x 2.5mm TDFN-12 package. On the upside, they operate over a supply range of 1.8 – 5.5 V.

Via the contact form.

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Comments

  1. Willemite says:

    There was a write up of this in eetimes or edn. Been trying to find an excuse to get it. The IDE is fairly straightforward.

  2. DwayneR says:

    Note that the GreenPAK I and II are RAM-based. That means that you can change your program as many times as you want. When you are satisfied that the chip works as you intended, THEN you issue the command to write the NVRAM. Once that has been done, the program can not be changed any more.

    Upon power-up, the stored program is transferred to the RAM cells. This is part of the aprox. 7ms initialization process.

    I have two projects (so far) that I intend to build using the GreenPAK II. Note that GreenPAK I is 1.8V – 3.3V operation while the GreenPAK II is 1.8V – 5.0V operation. I need 5V operation for most of my projects.

    dwayne

    • Willemite says:

      Thanks for pointing out that voltage difference. For me that’s a reason to use the II’s.

    • Rubu says:

      Any idea if they’re also programmable by an external eeprom? Looked in the docs but couldn’t really find an answer there..

      • DwayneR says:

        Any idea if they’re also programmable by an external eeprom? Looked in the docs but couldn’t really find an answer there..

        Nope. But you really wouldn’t want to, anyway. The GreenPAK I has a total of 8 pins, the GreenPAK II has a total of 12 pins. You would lose at least 2 of those pins if using an I2C eeprom, going up to as many as 4 pins with a SPI device.

        Question: why would you want to use an external eeprom? Is it just for the re-programmability? If so, remember that you can just use the RAM cells for debug.

        dwayne

    • Sjaak says:

      Can you tell me where to find the testing in ram? I can’t find it in the datasheet :(

      Would be a fun to play with these babies.

  3. Colin says:

    Seems damn cool, but why would you put a digitized voice in the video!? I can’t bear to watch it all.

    • Victoria says:

      Hi there,
      cool to see you guys discussing GPAK, thanks for your interest.
      And i couldn’t help replying to ur comment, Colin. You know why?
      Since the voice in the video is mine, and it is definitely not digitized :/
      Perhaps the quality in this one makes it sound weird.
      For instance, look at this one:
      http://www.silego.com/uploads/greenpak2files/gp2_logic_cells.html

      So..just wanted to say that we make it real, not fake :)

      Sincerely,
      Vita
      Silego MarCom

      • Sjaak says:

        Hi welcome to our blog!

        The chip is indeed very interesting! I love to try them out here on the blog, except the shipping cost are too expense for me (to Europe the shipping costs are the same as the programmer :/). Do you have plans to sell the development-kits and chips though mouser or digikey or provide some kind of economy shipment? I realize you focus on large corporation instead of hobbyists and it may not be feasible, but i had to ask :)

      • Victoria says:

        Hi Sjaak,

        Well…you are right. The only option for you is to provide us with your shipping account number noting the shipping courier that you prefer. Usually large corporations use Fedex or UPS service.

  4. DwayneR says:

    Something else that I should mention is that their tech support is EXTREMELY responsive. I noticed some issues with the development software and Silego got back to me immediately. They were able to duplicate my issues at their end and they intend to have them looked as soon as the dev team comes back from Christmas vacation.

    The problem I noticed is strictly a display issue that occurs if software is run in a window less than about 1300 pixels wide. No issues if it is run in a window wider than that, which is why most people (including Silego) would never notice it.

    Also note that Silego recommends that the software be run on Win7 rather than XP because of potential USB driver issues. They didn’t say NOT to run it on XP, only that there might be a driver issue that would need to be resolved. Apparently, this doesn’t happen on Win7.

    I’m currently running the software on both my desktop and netbook machines (Win7 Pro) with no problems.

    dwayne

  5. Willemite says:

    Any one look at the SPI capabilities? It seemed to me the serializer/deserializer module in the IC could only go one direction? In other words I could not send commands to device and read back data?

  6. Torwag says:

    Great….
    another company who sticks to Windows and Mac despite the fact that most developers work/would like to work under Linux-based Systems…

    I can’t believe that cooperates still do not get this.
    Windows is for gaming / Macs looks nice / Linux is for dev …

    If you have running it for Mac (a Unix clone) its probably a weekend job to get it running under Linux…. unlike for sure you licence stuff from 3rd parties which prohibited to do so ?!

    • MikeSmith says:

      @Torwag – I think Silego get the picture just fine; their paying customers want Windows and Mac OS ports of the design tool, so that’s what they produce.

      If you want a Linux port, find (or be) a potential customer whose purchasing decision depends on the existence of tools for your favourite platform.

      It wouldn’t hurt, either, if you spent some real time using other platforms yourself; your characterisations make it clear that you haven’t.

      • torwag says:

        @MikeSmith:
        Huh why attacking me… had a bad day? Don’t want to start a flamefest.
        However, you are plain wrong and guess you where sitting under a stone for the last decade or so.
        Luckily there is a clear movement towards supporting Linux in the last couple of years and many big vendors do already or working on it. All I see is that Linux is taken a more and more important role of being a target and dev platform. Thus, esp. smaller companies should be aware of this.

  7. Jay says:

    Willemite, I’ve used the SPI to control the GreenPAKII’s PWM duty cycle and direction (for a really cheap dc motor controller). You’re assumptions are correct. These are really simple devices and the S2P is really just a shift register with limited options of where the output is routed to.

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