FPGA devices are rapidly gaining popularity in the maker community, because they’re an interesting way to programmatically create hardware circuits. Many people are using them like an alternative to microcontroller development boards, but what they were originally intended for is prototyping chips and other integrated circuits. That’s particularly true for PicoEVB, which is a compact FPGA development board for prototyping PCI Express designs.
PicoEVB fits into your laptop’s M.2 slot, or in an M.2-to-Mini PCI Express adapter. However you plug it in, it will be powered by your laptop and you can begin configuring it without any additional cables. On the board is a Xilinx Artix-7 FPGA chip, and it can programmed directly using Xilinx’s free Vivado IDE. From there, you can begin designing and testing your PCIe card, with output through three LEDs and four analog and digital I/O pins.
If you want to prototype PCIe designs, the PicoEVB looks like a great option. A single board will cost you $219. That’s quite a bit more expensive than standard Xilinx Artix-7 FPGA boards, but the form factor of PicoEVB puts it in its own category.