Dev Kit Weekly – Microchip Hello FPGA Kit

Don’t know AI? Even less familiar with FPGAs?

Well don’t worry, because this week on Dev Kit Weekly we’re getting acquainted with the Hello! FPGA Kit from Microchip.

The SmartFusion 2 FPGA SoCs on the Hello! Kit is a flash-based FPGA device that packs in 12,000 logic elements, 21 18K LSRAM blocks, 22, 1K µSRAM blocks, 22 math blocks that can be cascaded for DSP functions, and 2 programmable logic libraries and clock conditioning circuits.

But that’s not all. The SmartFusion 2 SoC also integrates an Arm Cortex-M3 that clocks in at 166 MHz and includes a memory protection unit and embedded trace macrocell to let developers reconstruct program execution during debug. The -M3 is accompanied by a complete microcontroller subsystem, which provides instruction cache, embedded Non-Volatile Memory, embedded SRAM, and CAN, triple-speed Ethernet, USB connectivity is supported.

But while all of that hardware is nice, the reality is that this FPGA/AI starter kit all comes down to software for you novices looking to get a leg up. With the kit in hand, users can download the Hello FPGA GUI application that includes an FPGA programmer, of course, as well as a power graph and several demos. One is focused on AI, and executes a convolutional neural network using the parallel processing power of the SmartFusion FPGA fabric. The demo helps users help the Hello FPGA platform recognize hand-written numbers in real time.

Now, with all of that, I’ll let you take a guess at what the cost of this kit is… You’re wrong. It’s way less.

The Hello FPGA kit retails for just $168.75, which frankly is pretty amazing considering all that you get here. Unfortunately, if you want to get your hands on this, you’re S.O.L. as they say, at least for the time being. There are more than 500 of these already on order and the factory lead time is roughly 17 weeks. If you’re a math whiz, that’s getting close to fall.

But, a few of you lucky viewers has a chance to avoid all of that headache, and even the nominal expense. We’re raffling off three of these, and all you have to do to throw your hat in the ring is fill out the form:

That’s all for this week’s Dev Kit Weekly. Good luck in the raffle, and we’ll see you next week.

About the Author

Brandon Lewis

Brandon Lewis, Editor-in-Chief of Embedded Computing Design, is responsible for guiding the property's content strategy, editorial direction, and engineering community engagement, which includes IoT Design, Automotive Embedded Systems, the Power Page, Industrial AI & Machine Learning, and other publications. As an experienced technical journalist, editor, and reporter with an aptitude for identifying key technologies, products, and market trends in the embedded technology sector, he enjoys covering topics that range from development kits and tools to cyber security and technology business models. Brandon received a BA in English Literature from Arizona State University, where he graduated cum laude. He can be reached by email at

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