The Alchitry Au+ is the "gold" standard for FPGA development boards and it's possibly one of the strongest boards of its type on the market. The Au+ substitutes a more robust & scalable FPGA chip (Xilinx XC7A100T) that allows for more complex application circuits. The number of Configurable logic blocks (LABs/CLBs), Logic Elements, and total RAM bits are all nearly 3x that of the standard Au; see "Features" for more details.
FPGAs, or Field-Programmable Gate Arrays, are an advanced development board type for engineers and hobbyists alike to experience the next step in programming with electronics. The Au+ continues the trend of more affordable and increasingly powerful FPGA boards arriving each year. This board will allow your project to grow beyond the typical starting points for FPGAs. Finally, now that this board is built by SparkFun, we added a Qwiic connector for easy I2C integration!
The Alchitry Au+ features a Xilinx Artix 7 XC7A100T FPGA with over 100k logic cells and 256MB of DDR3 RAM. The Au+ offers 102 3.3V logic level IO pins, 20 of which can be switched to 1.8V; Nine differential analog inputs; Eight general purpose LEDs; a 100MHz on-board clock that can be manipulated internally by the FPGA; a USB-C connector to configure and power the board; and a USB to serial interface for data transfer. To make getting started even easier, all Alchitry boards have full Lucid support, a built in library of useful components to use in your project, and a debugger!
By adding stackable expansion boards similar to shields or HATs called "Elements," the Alchitry Au is able to expand its own hardware capabilities by adding prototyping spaces, buttons, LEDs, and more!
The SparkFun Qwiic Connect System is an ecosystem of I2C sensors, actuators, shields and cables that make prototyping faster and less prone to error. All Qwiic-enabled boards use a common 1mm pitch, 4-pin JST connector. This reduces the amount of required PCB space, and polarized connections mean you can’t hook it up wrong.
What's different about the Au+?
The Au+ uses a similar Xilinx Artix-7 FPGA IC (same total I/O), but with a more rubust and over 3x scalable architecture that allow for more complex application circuits.
If a board needs code or communicates somehow, you're going to need to know how to program or interface with it. The programming skill is all about communication and code.
Skill Level: Expert - You should be extremely comfortable programming on various hardware in several languages.
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If it requires power, you need to know how much, what all the pins do, and how to hook it up. You may need to reference datasheets, schematics, and know the ins and outs of electronics.
Skill Level: Rookie - You may be required to know a bit more about the component, such as orientation, or how to hook it up, in addition to power requirements. You will need to understand polarized components.
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Based on 3 ratings:
2 of 2 found this helpful:
great very small solution with plenty of room in the FPGA, lots of available IP from Xilinx, and high density connectors. Be careful using the PCB template someone in the forum provided--pin numbers are backwards and connector labels are swapped. Also note that some connector D FPGA pins are committed, don't assume you have 128 IOs. I didn't find the Lucid language preprocessor on Verilog that helpful, seemed pretty limited, although I'm very experienced with FPGA simulation and synthesis tools.
1 of 1 found this helpful:
I bought this to start learning FPGA development. From the description and price, I thought this would be a good way to learn a professional level device while using professional level tools. That is not the case. There were what seemed to be well though out tutorials with examples that accompanied this board. Again, not the case. Nothing from Alchitry has ben updated in a couple of years and I cannot get Alchitry Labs to build even the example program for the Au+ that it comes with. I have built the project in Vivado but when I generate the bitstream and use the Alchitry loader to program the board, I get a success message but nothing happens on the board. Like I said, I am learning FPGA development, so I am not able to figure out what is happening because I have to use the Alchitry specific programs (it seems) to do at least part of the process. There is little to NO support for the board or the Alchitry specific software so there is nothing I can do to figure out what the issue is. It seems like Alchitry had great intentions with this project, but unless there is a trove of information somewhere that I am not finding, they have all but sent this project out to the pasture. My suggestion for anyone wanting to learn how to use a FPGA is they buy a board that uses software that is supported and will continue to be so. The Zed board is not much more than this and comes with a TON of support and examples to get you going. The quality of this board is great, I wish there was more information on how to get it to work. I have tones of ideas on what to do with it but I cannot find the documents I need (as a beginner) to make it work. Another issue that I have it to be able to hook anything up to it, the accompanying parts is breakout board... are out of stock with a note that it is unknown if or when they will be available. Because of that, I have a board with tons of io potential that I can not use. I would love to see a document that gave me enough information to be able to hook up the FPGA directly to Vivado without having to use any of the Alchitry software. This would allow me to use the FPGA in a way that would give me skills used in the industry, which is the reason I bought the board in the first place.
My 2 star rating is due to the lack of information or updates on the software need to use the board. If it were not for the quality of the board, it would only be one star. I would imagine someone that is not looking to learn could make this work.
1 of 1 found this helpful:
It lived up to all my hopes without any problems. Additionally, there's great documentation including the book on lucid.