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RISC-V based ICE-V Wireless board includes a Lattice ICE40 UltraPlus FPGA

Jul 17, 2022 — by Giorgio Mendoza 4,285 views

The ICE-V Wireless from QWERTY Embedded Design is a tiny board that combines a Lattice iCE40 UltraPlus FPGA and a ESP32-C3-MINI-1 Wi-Fi/BLE module from Espressif Systems. This device supports popular programming platforms such as Arduino and MicroPython for easy software development.

The FPGA featured on this board is the low-cost ICE40UP5K-SG48 from Lattice Semi which provides up to 120 Kbits of EBR RAM, 1024 Kbits of SPRAM and 5280 LUTs. According to Lattice, this FPGA has been optimized for Machine Learning and AI implementations.


ICE-V Wireless board
(click image to enlarge)

The ESP32 module integrated on this device is the ESP32-C3-MINI-1, which according to its datasheet is a RISC-V based single core processor and it provides 384KB ROM, 400KB SRAM and 4MB of embedded flash. The Wi-Fi is IEEE 802.11 b/g/n-compliant and it supports speeds up to 150Mbps. 

For display support, there is one HDMI, one DSI output, and LVDS supports via pin headers next to the LAN pins. See below for details. 

ICE-V Wireless board top (left) and back (right)
(click images to enlarge)

The design of the ICE-V Wireless offers three dual PMODS which are routed to the Lattice FPGA. On the opposite side of the board, there is an I/O connector to get access to seven GPIO lines from the ESP32-C3 module and one FPGA line. There are Power and GND pins located on every PMOD connector as well as the I/O connector. 

ICE-V Wireless pinout
(click image to enlarge)

Other peripherals included are two buttons used for reset and boot mode, an RGB LED, a LiPo battery charging circuit, a USB type-C for debugging and power and a few indicator LEDs. 

According to the product GitHub which can be found here, the ESP32 firmware has been written in C using the ESP-IDF V5.0 toolchain and libraries. The GitHub for the ICE-V Wireless also provides documentation for FPGA gateware and a command-line Python script to communicate over TCP with the ESP32C3. The device also seems to support ICE-V-MicroPython based on the latest firmware update. 

This board has been developed by a company called QWERTY Embedded Design and the product has been 66% funded via GroupGets at the time of writing. 

Specifications listed for the ICE-V Wireless include:

  • Processor System:
    • ESP32-C3HN4 32-bit RISC-V single core processor (up to 160MHz)
    • Lattice ICE40UP5K-SG48 FPGA 
  • Memory/Storage:
    • 64Mbit QSPI PSRAM
    • 400KB SRAM (ESP32-C3) 
    • 384KB ROM (ESP32-C3)
    • 4MB flash (ESP32-C3)
  • Connectivity:
    • IEEE 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi with 2.4GHz band support
    • BLE 5.0 (up to 2Mbps) 
  • Expansion:
    • 3x PMOD 
  • USB:
    • 1x USB (Type C)
  • I/O Interfaces:
    • I/O connector with seven ESP32-C3 GPIO lines, one FPGA line and power, ground and reset
    • 1x RGB LED
    • Tactile buttons, LED indicators 
  • Power:
    • 5V (Type-C)
  • Operating temperature:
    • 0C to 70°C 
  • Dimensions:
    • 170×170×35 mm

 Further information

The ICE-V Wireless has a campaign funded via GroupGets. The board costs around ~$75 and the campaign will end on August 16 2022.


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