I got the MiniZed in the mail yesterday as we can see from the very happy delivery person.

My 2.5 year old daughter holding the Newark package

In the box, we have the MinZed itself and a few pamphlets. We also get a USB Micro with three standard jumpers. One pamphlet is a software license so I can download and Activate Xilinx Design tools and activate them. The other is a quick start guide which I will demonstrate in the second video. I'm not sure yet where the jumpers are supposed to go...

 

Here are some Hi-Rez images of the board:

 

Back of the

 

 

I spent some time reading through a couple of the 40+ page manuals for the board to learn more about it. They have really packed a lot of functionality into this very small device. If the development environment is easy to use, this could easily be a strong competitor to Arduino / Raspberry Pi applications even at the current price point of $88.99 USD from Newark. It seems that an FPGA-based board like this could somehow fit "in between" a Raspberry Pi and an Arduino Uno/ESP8266. The board should be able to process high-speed data like encoders, video streams, have loads of on-board storage, and offer wireless capabilities at a competitive price - since Raspberry Pi's usually end up well over $100 once you add a power supply, a decent sized SD Card, and any other accessories like a camera, touchscreen, etc.

 

FPGAs are generally known for high pin counts, and this one is right up there with over 250 pins in a BGA (Ball Grid Array) package. There are gobs of IO available and dedicated bus lines going all around the board to the various prehiperials like the temperature sensor, Murata wireless interface chip, MMC, Flash, RAM, FTDI, and so on. I don't know how may layers this board is but my guess is at least 8 or 10 to fit all this stuff in such a small package. The power supply chip from Dialog actually appears to be creating power buses of 3.3, 1.8, 1.35, 1.0 and 0.675 VDC. It also features I2C communication to the Xilinx AND a Real time Clock. There are instructions in the manual on how to add a SuperCap in an unpopulated footprint (C157 in the Hi-Res image above; right next to "IO4" which is equivalent to Arduino Digital Pin 4 in the header) on the board to allow the clock to remember across power cycles. The documentation also mentions what some of the other unpopulated components can be used for which I always find interesting - looking a boards and seeing all sorts of unpopulated components and wondering why they are "left" in production-level boards.

 

 

In the video above, I apply power to the board and let it boot up. It seems that the Xilinx is kind of doing two things - running a basic program to illuminate the LED based in microphone input, and also it will boot up a super lightweight blend of Linux.

 

Until we meet again, I'm going to start playing with the IDE from Xilinx and await the curriculum to arrive to start really playing with this device.

 

- James