The SoC packed on USB port targets AI applications at IoT edge

Article By : Majeed Ahmad

The availability of Qomu development kit on Crowd Supply stock marks an important step in the democratization of SoCs designs.

The forward-looking worlds of system-on-chip (SoC) design and artificial intelligence (AI) applications continue to converge and collide, and the availability of Qomu SoC development kit on Crowd Supply stock is the latest manifestation of this remarkable design journey. Qomu, housed in an injection-molded case, holds the board for port fit and USB contact.

Early this year, QuickLogic unveiled the Qomu development kit that combines a microcontroller with an embedded FPGA (eFPGA) in a form factor that can fit into a USB Type-A port. It also includes four capacitive touch pads, one RGB LED, and configurable SPI and I2C controller interfaces.

The MCU—featuring an Arm Cortex-M4F core with 512 KBytes of system memory—is instrumental in software development. Next, eFPGA with 64 Kbits of embedded RAM and 2,400 logic cells can be used to accelerate or offload algorithms from the MCU. Design engineers can also use the FPGA core to implement custom IP or provide glue logic for a new peripheral. The combination of MCU and FPGA enables developers to blend firmware with gateware, the engineering moniker sometimes used for the FPGA code.

The Qomu development kit also uses a variety of vendor-supported open-source development tools to broaden access for design engineers. For instance, besides standard Verilog support with SymbiFlow, Qomu supports nMigen for a Python-to-FPGA design flow. Other open-source tools include FreeRTOSRenode, and Zephyr.

The SoC development kit is broadly aimed at the Internet of Things (IoT) applications at the edge, especially those requiring ultra-low power consumption and AI or machine learning (ML) capabilities. It comes with several example applications and gateware available for free use.

The Qomu development kit’s availability on Crowd Supply, a creator-focused platform that connects backers with exciting design projects, marks an important step in the democratization of SoC designs. That, while exhibiting another interesting milestone in SoC design’s relentless journey, could well be poor man’s AI.

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This article was originally published on EDN.

Majeed Ahmad, Editor-in-Chief of EDN, has covered the electronics design industry for more than two decades.


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