QWERTY's ICE-V Wireless Packs RISC-V, FPGA, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi Into a Single Handy Board

Designed to provide a platform for FPGA work with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity, this low-power board has a compact footprint.

Gareth Halfacree
2 years agoFPGAs / HW101

UPDATE (6/19/2022): The ICE-V Wireless crowdfunding campaign is now live, with 250 units available at $75 plus shipping each.

Backers ordering the low-cost FPGA development board during the campaign will receive one fully-assembled unit with through-hole pin connectors included but unsoldered, QWERTY Embedded Design has confirmed.

The project's crowdfunding campaign is running through to August 16 2022, with at the time of writing 45 units from the 250-unit production run already sold.

More information, and the ability to back the project, can be found on the ICE-V Wireless GroupGets page; hardware is expected to be delivered following a factory lead time of 28 days.

Original article continues below.

Michael Welling and Eric Brombaugh, of QWERTY Embedded Design, are preparing to launch a new low-cost FPGA development board built around a Lattice Semi iCE40 UltraPlus FPGA and an Espressif ESP32-C3 RISC-V system-on-chip with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity: the ICE-V Wireless.

"This project combines an Espressif ESP32C3HN4 SoC [System-on-Chip] (which includes 4MB of flash in the package) with a Lattice iCE40 FPGA (either an iCE5LP4k or iCE40UP5k or other pin an package-compatible devices) to allow Wi-Fi and Bluetooth control of the FPGA," Brombaugh explains of the project.

"ESP32 and FPGA I/O [Input/Output] is mostly uncommitted except for the pins used for SPI communication between ESP32 and FPGA. Several of the ESP32C3 GPIO pins are available for additional interfaces such as serial, ADC, I2C, etc."

The planned community-driven production variant of Welling and Brombaugh's latest board design packs an Espressif ESP32-C3-MINI module on a custom board alongside a Lattice iCE40UP5k, a compact low-power FPGA designed for edge-AI work and offering 5,280 four-input lookup tables (LUTs), 80kb of embedded dual-port memory, and 1Mb of embedded single-port memory alongside digital signal processing (DSP) blocks with multiply and accumulate functions.

The ESP32-C3, meanwhile, offers a single 160MHz 32-bit RISC-V core with 802.11b/g/n 2.4GHz Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 5 Low Energy (BLE) connectivity — and is, likewise tailored for low power draw. Elsewhere on the board are three PMOD connectors for easy expansion with external hardware, additional pseudo-static RAM (PSRAM), a lithium-polymer battery charging circuit, a USB Type-C connector for data and power, and an RGB LED for on-device feedback.

Welling and Brombaugh are preparing to sell the board through GroupGets at $75 a unit. Full project details, meanwhile, are available on Welling's GitHub repository, where the design files, firmware, and FPGA gateware are published under the permissive MIT license.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire: freelance@halfacree.co.uk.
Latest articles
Sponsored articles
Related articles
Latest articles
Read more
Related articles