Working with FPGA-powered IoT developer modules


In a recent development from Avnet, we have the MicroZed development module based on the Xilinx Zynq-7000 SoC. The SoC combines dual ARM Cortex-A9 processor cores with numerous programmable logic cells to provide hardware and software programmability for better developer experience. The abundant resources available on the module make it suitable even for high-end applications.

Developers working on the Internet of Things (IoT) have been seeing an increasing number of development platforms lately, catering to hardware and connected services in a common system. Most of such kits seem to target hobbyist or consumer applications, and even lesser provide a simpler path to production.

Avnet is seeking to change the situation with its latest introduction as the MicroZed Industrial IoT starter kit.

The kit consists of a carrier board for the MicroZed to plug into, which provides developers with an R3 Arduino-compatible expansion slot, two 2×6 peripheral module expansion slots, and a header for connection to the built-in UART, SPI, I2C, and GPIO interfaces.

The carrier makes a wealth of off-the-shelf sensor and control resources available for developers to use. Avnet also partnered with STMicroelectronics and Maxim Integrated to include motion MEMS, environmental, and thermocouple sensor modules in the kit for further development options.

The kit includes sufficient resources for someone designing an Industrial IoT application to develop and prototype their product. At a price point of $300, the kit is intended as a serious product-development platform, and not just a demonstration or experimenter’s board.

Even though the technology has generated a lot of buzz and interest, there is not often a compelling reason to adopt it. Hence for some developers the shine is beginning to come off of the hype of IoT, especially in consumer applications. But same can not be said for the industrial segment. Companies embracing the IIoT find ease with reduced maintenance and downtime costs and better resource utilization. Consumer IoT got hyped a lot, but IoT seems to be the area with the higher use cases and potential.

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