Looking for deign/engineering consulting for IoT system board design

(Evan Taylor) #1


I am trying to find consultants/engineers (or firms) with experience or interest in working with designing system boards with E2 or E3 series SiFive chips for developing a RISC V-based replacement for our current remote monitoring sensor instrument mainboards.

I work on some DoE-funded research and development projects based out of Arizona around custom sensor technologies. We have reached the limits of what our 8-bit ATMEL-based embedded hardware designs can really do (and our EE who is semi-retired and supports them has asked us to find a long-term replacement solution). We’re looking for a consultant/engineering firm that has industrial IoT background and can help us put a IoT system board design that satisfies some sensitive design criteria.

While we’ve been able to leverage a fairly flexible AVR codebase and minimal hardware changes for previous sensor research projects (mostly around remote monitoring of hazardous waste sites), IoT capabilities have finally caught up with and and surpassed (from a communications standpoint) what my organization had been doing for decades.

We like the idea of basing our next-generation communications boards on a fully open-source platform (including even fully open-sourcing the design/firmware and allowing other researchers to use it or get it made) that can handle all the general-purpose stuff (communications over ethernet, wifi, cellular, etc.) and has a modular connector for interfacing with our more specialized electronics for custom sensor technologies.

We do enough of these projects where the measurement sensitivities require custom board designs, and we literally develop the underlying sensor technologies and most OTS IoT hardware is just not compatible with the accuracy needs of of our measurements (example: our measurement for one instrument is similar to high impedance pH instruments if you’re familiar). We use Raspberry Pis throughout R&D that interface with our custom measurement instruments over USB/Serial, but they are not suitable for industrial applications or remote monitoring. They are great lab tools and toys.

We would prefer if the company were AZ based as we’re based in Tempe, AZ, but have monitoring sites in both CA and AZ and frequently travel to CA.

We’d like to get an E2 or E3-based design developed for Industrial/Scientific applications to handle all the major communications and alert logic and interface with our sensing technologies through a replaceable/changeable daughterboard (imagine a SO-DIMM that has some of our isolated measurement electronics). We have a lot of experience developing 8-bit AVR systems, but want to move to more flexible and modern 32bit micro-controllers with better security baked in (now that we’re connecting things to the internet).

We know this kind of project could take 6-12 months or longer, and don’t have a pressing need, but want to transition to a long-term solution in the next year or two.


(Atif Zafar) #2

Good morning:

We have just finished the development of a new board called the FireFly that uses a Lattice ECP5 FPGA in an Arduino form factor. We can ship with 25K, 45K or 85K LUT devices based on need. It will support the Arduino shield ecosystem so you can add Wifi, BT4, cellular modems or other connectivity options via a shield. We are working on an HDMI graphics shield that will allow you run a 1280x1024 HDMI LCD or other display.

We are working on supporting robust, open-source RISC-V cores and development tools on this board, which is the primary reason we built this. Although initially aimed at Universities to teach the RISC-V architecture to engineering students we feel this board has immediate applications in IoT, Maker Spaces, industrial control settings and many other areas.

Our website is at http://www.pixilica.com. Please send me your contact info and I will send you more information and a sample board for you to test. Thanks!

Atif Zafar, MD
Pixilica, LLC

(Troy Benjegerdes) #3

Atif, does https://github.com/SymbiFlow/prjtrellis work for your boards yet?

I would be very interested to see an FPGA-shells target for the SiFive Freedom repos that uses SymbiFlow and then I can test things without having to deal with license managers for fpga tools.

(Atif Zafar) #4


We have not tested it yet but have been in contact with Clifford Wolff. We would love to have people work with us to test our boards with various tools. We have full support from Lattice for these boards so that we can create a nice open-source ecosystem for them. I would be happy to discuss this further with you or anyone else interested in testing our boards.


(Evan Taylor) #5

Shooting you an e-mail Atif, thanks for the reply.