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"Breadboardable" 7 series FPGA with lots of lots of GPIOs



I am searching for an FPGA dev board with lots of available GPIO pins, but unfortunately I can not really find any. 

Almost all of the dev boards are made with unnecessary peripherals connected to it, or just extra (but small) memory and stuff, which takes away I/O. Or if neither is the case then, because of cost considerations, lower number of layers are used for the PCB, which makes it impossible to route all the GPIO pins. 

I would be surprised to see that nobody needs a good Xilinx 7th series based FPGA with as many GPIOs made available on pins as possible. (no, no LEDs, no buttons, just good old fashioned pins)

I thought maybe people want to share their opinion about this, if they would be happy to see something like this, or I am alone and I should design my own dev board...

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I feel your frustration. I'm thinking that you probably have some other requirements other than "lots of GPIO pins". I can think of cost, PC interfaces like USB, Ethernet, DDR memory etc.

As I've posted in other threads I've used the CMOD-A7 and Terasic DE0-Nano (Altera) for many quick and dirty projects. Understand that if you want to drive a lot of signals out of your FPGA board you need a board with a suitable power supply and a way to handle heat dissipation. The previous two boards that I mentioned are, in my opinion, rather weak in this area for a wide range of uses. The Xilinx boards often come with an LPC and HPC FMC connector providing lot's of IO. Opal Kelly has offered FPGA boards with limited functionality but lots of GPIO if you used their breakout boards. Their price point is higher than Digilent's. I've used their boards successfully for rapid prototyping.

There are some crowd funded boards. Crowd Supply has the Snickerdoodle ( Mouser sells an older version of the current board ) and the Syzygy. I have the latter board but so far there are no PODS available to connect to the main board. Digilent's older boards have a lot of IO though you will probably need to create your own PCBs to use the IO connectors. Actel ( formerly Microsemi, formerly Micrel and now Microchip ???) has some boards based on older IGLOO technology with IO. Of course I don't know how many or what kind of IO you need. There are Indian and and Asian outfits offering boards. There is also Trenz boards some of which are inexpensive and available from Digikey.

I am loathe to get into the recommendation game as everyone has their own needs and requirements. I can only speak about what I know from experience.

Keep looking.

P.S. I would recommend that you not only look at data sheets but look at user's forums, vendor support, etc to get an idea of what to expect. It's been my experience with many embedded platforms that what you get is not always what's advertised. Buyer beware as the lawyers are fond of saying....

Edited by zygot

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In my opinion cost and demand for a product are deciding factors. Manufacturers don't want to loose money on something that sits in the warehouse. I am sure they do market research before commiting money for development and production which could be substantial. The point is if it's not on the market it's not profitable. It should be noted that affordable price can be achieve only in high volume (>10k).

From my experience I would suggest to look at Avnet Microzed with the prototyping carrier card. The carrier card has 200 traces wired from Zynq and you can solder 2 headers for using it on a breadboard. It is up to you to use ARM or just PL.

Good Luck!

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