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FPGA SoC modules gain networking carrier and new PolarFire SoC model

Nov 30, 2021 — by Eric Brown 902 views

Enclustra’s “Mercury+ PE3” carrier for its FPGA/SoC Mercury/Mercury+ modules can act as an SBC or plug into a PC via PCIe x8. It offers QSFP+, 4x SFP+, FireFly, and 2x GbE. We also examine a new “Mercury+ MP1” module based on the RISC-V based PolarFire SoC.

In May, Switzerland based Enclustra announced a Mercury+ ST1 baseboard for its FPGA/SoC powered Mercury and Mercury+ compute modules. These include a Xilinx Zynq UltraScale+ MPSoC based Mercury+ XU6 module that was announced at the same time. Now the company has unveiled a more feature-rich Mercury+ PE3 board for the Mercury/Mercury+ product line.

Farther below, we report on a similarly “in development” Mercury+ MP1 module based on Microchip’s based PolarFire SoC, which includes RISC-V based CPU cores and Microchip’s PolarFire FPGA.

Render images for Mercury+ PE3 (left) and Mercury+ MP1
(click images to enlarge)

Unlike the Mercury+ ST1 carrier, but like the earlier Mercury+ PE1 baseboard, the Mercury+ PE3 can plug into another computer via a PCIe edge connector, as well as act as a standalone carrier. The baseboard is designed for prototyping high-end networking applications that require FPGA processing.


The Mercury+ PE3 supports any of the dozen Mercury and Mercury+ FPGA/SoC modules, which express I/O via 2x or 3x 168-pin Hirose FX10 connectors, respectively. (It is possible the board also supports Enclustra’s three FPGA-only Mercury/Mercury+ modules.)

All the Enclustra FPGA/SoC entries offer Linux BSPs along with development tools for FPGAs. Mercury/Mercury+ modules lack a standard size but are larger than Enclustra’s SODIMM-style Mars modules. Enclustra also offers a slightly larger, Zynq UltraScale+ powered Andromeda XZU60 module with up to 6x Samtec ADM6-60 high-speed connectors.

There are six different Mercury and Mercury+ XUx modules based on the Zynq UltraScale+, ranging from XU1 to XU9. The UltraScale+ SoCs offer varying levels of FPGA support but the same 1.5GHz quad-core, Cortex-A53 Arm block and Mali-400 MP2 GPU. Earlier Mercury/Mercury+ modules include the Intel Arria 10 based Mercury+ AA, the Intel Cyclone V driven Mercury SA1 and Mercury+ SA1 and SA2, as well as the Zynq 7000 powered Mercury ZX1 and ZX5.

Mercury+ PE3

The Mercury+ PE3 is equipped with a PCIe x8 edge connector instead of the x4 connector on the Mercury+ PE1. The board supplies both an up to 40GbE QSFP+ cage and Samtec’s up to 28Gbps per channel, optical FireFly connector, both of which are found on iWave’s Zynq Ultrascale+ based iW-RainboW-G36S Corazon AI SBC. There are also four more optical networking connections available via a cage with 4x SFP+ interfaces. Rounding out the networking mix are 2x Gigabit Ethernet ports.

Mercury+ PE3, front and back
(click images to enlarge)

The 171 x 112.4mm carrier is equipped with HDMI, USB 3.0 host, and USB 3.0 Type-C with DisplayPort support. For storage there is a microSD slot and an M.2 socket that supports SATA.

Mercury+ PE3 block diagram
(click image to enlarge)

FPGA-related features include an FMC HPC connector, an FTDI USB 2.0 High-Speed device controller, and a low-jitter clock generator. You also get a JTAG connector, a micro-USB system controller with USB JTAG/UART debug, a battery holder, and a DC input. Schematics and 3D models are available.

Mercury+ MP1

We missed the July announcement of the Mercury+ MP1, and apparently so did everyone else. The in-development module showcases the first — and only — RISC-V architecture hybrid FPGA/SoC: Microchip’s PolarFire SoC.

The PolarFire SoC combines its PolarFire FPGA with 4x Linux-driven, 1.5GHz U54-MC CPU cores supplied by SiFive. Available on Aries’ M100PFS module and several development kits including Microchip’s own PolarFire SoC Icicle Kit, the SoC inherits the extensive security features of the PolarFire FPGA.

Mercury+ MP1 block diagram
(click image to enlarge)

The 74 x 54mm module offers up to 4GB DDR4 each for the Arm and FPGA blocks, and the Arm RAM uses ECC. Other memories include 64MB QSPI, 64MB SPI, and 16GB eMMC. The module supports PolarFire FPGA flavors up to the maximum 461K logic elements.

The Mercury+ MP1 enables 2x GbE ports, a single USB 2.0 OTG, and PCIe Gen2 x4. The module offers up to 20x up to 12.7 Gbps MGT interfaces and supplies 294 user I/Os. These include 14x MSS, up to 202 GPIOs, and up to 94 MGT signals. There is a 5-14VDC input, an optional heatsink with fan, and -40 to 85°C support.

Further information

The Mercury+ PE3 and Mercury+ MP1 are “in development,” and there are no details on pricing or availability. More information on the Mercury+ PE3 may be found in Enclustra’s announcement (scroll down) and product page. More on the Mercury+ MP1 may be found in Enclustra’s announcement and product page.

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