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ARM/FPGA module runs Linux on Arria 10 SoC

Oct 24, 2016 — by Eric Brown 2,840 views

iWave’s rugged, Linux-friendly, 95 x 75mm “Arria 10 SoC Module” expands upon the dual-core, ARM/FPGA SoC from Altera with DDR4 and 24 transceivers.

The iWave Systems Arria 10 SoC Module builds upon Intel/Altera’s Arria 10 SX SoC, a faster, newer sibling to the Cyclone V SX, which iWave tapped for its Qseven based iW-RainboW-G17M-Q7 COM and iW-RainboW-G17D development board combo. Both the Cyclone V SoC and Arria 10 SoC combine dual-core Cortex-A9 subsystems with FPGA circuitry, but the Arria 10 boosts the ARM clock speed to 1.5GHz, up from 800MHz, and offers a higher end FPGA.

Arria 10 SoC Module, front and back
(click image to enlarge)

The Arria 10 SoC Module updates iWave’s earlier, 35 x 35mm iW-Rainbow-G24M, which is apparently discontinued, as the link on the Altera site leads you to the Arria 10 SoC Module. The new module offers an industrial -40 to 85°C operating range, is designed for applications including test and measurement, control and intelligence, diagnostic medical imaging, wireless infrastructure, wireline communication, computer and storage, and broadcast and distribution equipment.

The Arria 10 SoC Module runs Linux 4.1 on a 20nm fabricated Arria 10 SX with an F34 package. The module supports five SX models — the SX270, SX320, SX480, SX570, SX660 — which offer the same ARM hard processor system (HPS), but provide varying levels of FPGA logic elements (LEs) ranging from 220K to 660K. By comparison, Cyclone V SoC LEs range from 25K to 301K LEs, depending on the model.


The Arria 10 SoC Module also supports five GX models with the same naming convention and specs as the SX models. The SX models support up to 48 transceiver lanes while the GX models supply up to 96 lanes.

Arria 10 architecture
(click image to enlarge)

The SoC is based on the earlier, 28nm Arria V SoC, but runs on up to 40 percent lower power despite faster ARM cores, which have advanced to 1.5GHz from 1.05GHz. The Arria 10 SoC also has 500MHz rather than 300MHz logic core performance compared to the Arria V SoC, which has 350LK to 462K LEs. There’s also an Arria 10 FPGA, which is similar to the SoC, but lacks the dual-core, 1.5GHz Cortex-A9 HPS. The Arria 10 SoC offers a 2400Mbps DDR4 SDRAM interface, and an IEEE 754-compliant hard floating-point with 1,500 GFLOPS of DSP performance.

The Arria 10 SoC Module ships with 1GB, 32-bit DDR4 memory for the HPS with optional ECC, and offers optional 64-bit DDR4 and QSPI flash for the FPGA. The module supplies 1GB NAND flash, expandable to 2GB. ARM-related embedded peripherals include GbE and USB 2.0 OTG, both with PHY, as well as SD, SPI, I2C, UART, debug UART, and GPIO. The 5V module supports the interfaces with variable voltage.

The module provides 24 high speed transceivers @ 17.4Gbps, and offers up to “76LVDS/152SE FPGA IOs. All the interfaces and high speed transceiver blocks are available on the board-to-board connector.

Arria 10 SoC Module block diagram
(click image to enlarge)

The Arria 10 SoC Module is further equipped with hardened floating-point variable-precision DSP blocks and hard memory controllers. There’s also a secure boot feature based on AES and Elliptic Curve Digital Signature Algorithm, as well as protocol intellectual property controllers.

In addition to linking to iWave, the Altera page notes two other Arria 10 SoC-based modules. These are Enclustra’s 74 × 54mm Mercury+ AA1, a Linux, Android, and eCos-ready COM, which is listed as being “in development,” as well as a Debian-driven, 95 x 85mm Achilles Arria 10 SoC SoM from Reflex.

Enclustra Mercury+ AA1 (left) and Reflex Achilles Arria 10 SoC SoM
(click images to enlarge)

Altera, which was acquired by Intel Corp. earlier this year, recently began sampling the Altera Stratix 10, a higher end, 14nm SoC that combines 4x Cortex-A53 cores with a Stratix V level FPGA. The Stratix 10 is footprint compatible with the Arria 10 SoC, which is recommended for early prototyping until the Stratix 10 ships in volume

Further information

No pricing or availability information was provided for the Arria 10 SoC Module, which is said to be supported by “quick” customization services. More information may be found on iWave’s fairly bare-bones Arria 10 SoC Module product page, and the company’s earlier announcement.

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