Forums

Microsemi SmartFusion2 Field Upgrade

Started by Rob Gaddi August 16, 2017
We're starting a new design, and I again find myself tempted by the 
Microsemi SmartFusion2 as combination FPGA/uC.  It's got a built-in ARM 
Cortex-M3, which is a simple dinky micro instead of some big honking A8 
application processor that you can't even get up and running without 
kilobytes of boot code.  The smallest, cheapest one is about $15 in 
small quantity with 64 kB of data memory and and 128 kB of application 
flash without having to touch the fabric resource.  So, cute chip.

One of my concerns is field upgradability.  There are a couple app notes 
on implementing "Auto-Update Programming Recovery", which seems to be 
what I'm looking for.  You put down an external flash that holds your 
"Golden Image" of what you shipped with, and then an "Upgrade Image" and 
if the upgrade gets its wires crossed then it falls back.  Or that's the 
theory, anyway.

Anyone have any experience with these devices to share for good or ill? 
Especially experience with the field upgrade mechanism.

-- 
Rob Gaddi, Highland Technology -- www.highlandtechnology.com
Email address domain is currently out of order.  See above to fix.
Rob Gaddi wrote on 8/16/2017 2:16 PM:
> We're starting a new design, and I again find myself tempted by the > Microsemi SmartFusion2 as combination FPGA/uC. It's got a built-in ARM > Cortex-M3, which is a simple dinky micro instead of some big honking A8 > application processor that you can't even get up and running without > kilobytes of boot code. The smallest, cheapest one is about $15 in small > quantity with 64 kB of data memory and and 128 kB of application flash > without having to touch the fabric resource. So, cute chip. > > One of my concerns is field upgradability. There are a couple app notes on > implementing "Auto-Update Programming Recovery", which seems to be what I'm > looking for. You put down an external flash that holds your "Golden Image" > of what you shipped with, and then an "Upgrade Image" and if the upgrade > gets its wires crossed then it falls back. Or that's the theory, anyway. > > Anyone have any experience with these devices to share for good or ill? > Especially experience with the field upgrade mechanism.
I've never looked that hard at the parts. I like the idea of the MCU type processor rather than the cell phone type processor, but when I had a use for the part the price was a *lot* higher. I attended a Microsemi workshop for the chip and they gave us a board (or maybe we paid a bit I don't recall). But we got the version without the MCU. I tried to get them to fork over one with the Smartfusion 2, but I guess I didn't register on their radar. I see JL is asking about them too. Must be a full moon. -- Rick C
On 17/08/2017 07:49, rickman wrote:
> Rob Gaddi wrote on 8/16/2017 2:16 PM: >> We're starting a new design, and I again find myself tempted by the >> Microsemi SmartFusion2 as combination FPGA/uC. It's got a built-in ARM >> Cortex-M3, which is a simple dinky micro instead of some big honking A8 >> application processor that you can't even get up and running without >> kilobytes of boot code. The smallest, cheapest one is about $15 in small >> quantity with 64 kB of data memory and and 128 kB of application flash >> without having to touch the fabric resource. So, cute chip. >> >> One of my concerns is field upgradability. There are a couple app >> notes on >> implementing "Auto-Update Programming Recovery", which seems to be >> what I'm >> looking for. You put down an external flash that holds your "Golden >> Image" >> of what you shipped with, and then an "Upgrade Image" and if the upgrade >> gets its wires crossed then it falls back. Or that's the theory, anyway. >> >> Anyone have any experience with these devices to share for good or ill? >> Especially experience with the field upgrade mechanism. > > I've never looked that hard at the parts. I like the idea of the MCU > type processor rather than the cell phone type processor, but when I had > a use for the part the price was a *lot* higher. > > I attended a Microsemi workshop for the chip and they gave us a board > (or maybe we paid a bit I don't recall).
I also attended their Smartfusion workshop and got a really nice prototype board with an M2GLO25 for free. They gave us the option of either an IGLOO2 and SmartFusion chip. Here is the board: https://www.microsemi.com/products/fpga-soc/design-resources/dev-kits/smartfusion2/future-creative-board You might still be able to get it for free or for little money and it is ideal for hacking around with. I had no issues getting the board up and running using Designer and Mentor's Precision. I have always liked Actel/MicroSemi as I get the impression they work that bit harder to satisfy their customer base. Good luck, Hans www.ht-lab.com But we got the version without
> the MCU. I tried to get them to fork over one with the Smartfusion 2, > but I guess I didn't register on their radar. > > I see JL is asking about them too. Must be a full moon. >
HT-Lab wrote on 8/17/2017 4:54 AM:
> On 17/08/2017 07:49, rickman wrote: >> Rob Gaddi wrote on 8/16/2017 2:16 PM: >>> We're starting a new design, and I again find myself tempted by the >>> Microsemi SmartFusion2 as combination FPGA/uC. It's got a built-in ARM >>> Cortex-M3, which is a simple dinky micro instead of some big honking A8 >>> application processor that you can't even get up and running without >>> kilobytes of boot code. The smallest, cheapest one is about $15 in small >>> quantity with 64 kB of data memory and and 128 kB of application flash >>> without having to touch the fabric resource. So, cute chip. >>> >>> One of my concerns is field upgradability. There are a couple app notes on >>> implementing "Auto-Update Programming Recovery", which seems to be what I'm >>> looking for. You put down an external flash that holds your "Golden Image" >>> of what you shipped with, and then an "Upgrade Image" and if the upgrade >>> gets its wires crossed then it falls back. Or that's the theory, anyway. >>> >>> Anyone have any experience with these devices to share for good or ill? >>> Especially experience with the field upgrade mechanism. >> >> I've never looked that hard at the parts. I like the idea of the MCU type >> processor rather than the cell phone type processor, but when I had a use >> for the part the price was a *lot* higher. >> >> I attended a Microsemi workshop for the chip and they gave us a board (or >> maybe we paid a bit I don't recall). > > I also attended their Smartfusion workshop and got a really nice prototype > board with an M2GLO25 for free. They gave us the option of either an IGLOO2 > and SmartFusion chip. Here is the board: > > https://www.microsemi.com/products/fpga-soc/design-resources/dev-kits/smartfusion2/future-creative-board
Yeah, that's the one. They only had Igloo boards at the workshop and said they would get me one with the SmartFusion2. But it never happened. I emailed the person I was given contact info for but never got the replacement board. I don't really have a particular need now.
> You might still be able to get it for free or for little money and it is > ideal for hacking around with. I had no issues getting the board up and > running using Designer and Mentor's Precision. > > I have always liked Actel/MicroSemi as I get the impression they work that > bit harder to satisfy their customer base.
I've been using the Lattice stuff myself, but I don't see a big difference in support. If they don't perceive you as a larger customer you only get so much support. -- Rick C
Den torsdag den 17. august 2017 kl. 08.50.03 UTC+2 skrev rickman:
> Rob Gaddi wrote on 8/16/2017 2:16 PM: > > We're starting a new design, and I again find myself tempted by the > > Microsemi SmartFusion2 as combination FPGA/uC. It's got a built-in ARM > > Cortex-M3, which is a simple dinky micro instead of some big honking A8 > > application processor that you can't even get up and running without > > kilobytes of boot code. The smallest, cheapest one is about $15 in small > > quantity with 64 kB of data memory and and 128 kB of application flash > > without having to touch the fabric resource. So, cute chip. > > > > One of my concerns is field upgradability. There are a couple app notes on > > implementing "Auto-Update Programming Recovery", which seems to be what I'm > > looking for. You put down an external flash that holds your "Golden Image" > > of what you shipped with, and then an "Upgrade Image" and if the upgrade > > gets its wires crossed then it falls back. Or that's the theory, anyway. > > > > Anyone have any experience with these devices to share for good or ill? > > Especially experience with the field upgrade mechanism. > > I've never looked that hard at the parts. I like the idea of the MCU type > processor rather than the cell phone type processor, but when I had a use > for the part the price was a *lot* higher. > > I attended a Microsemi workshop for the chip and they gave us a board (or > maybe we paid a bit I don't recall). But we got the version without the > MCU. I tried to get them to fork over one with the Smartfusion 2, but I > guess I didn't register on their radar. > > I see JL is asking about them too. Must be a full moon.
you didn't notice Rob's www.highlandtechnology.com signature? ;)