When it comes to the world of Microcontrollers, FPGAs, DSPs, or basically anything related to embedded devices, we have traditionally been accustomed to something averagely big (in regards to this domain) and even created some standards like SBCs (Single Board Computers) to categorize devices.
What if we could have development boards that goes beyond the standard norms of the traditional form factor, something about the size of the chip itself. Also, not just small, but powerful as well. Tim Ansell envisioned the Tomu ARM dev boards in late 2017 – a tiny ARM micro-controller board that fits inside your USB port running on the popular Cortex-M0+, but he isn’t stopping there and now presenting an FPGA in your USB port called Fomu.
When it comes to FPGA, micro size is not something you see every day, it’s one of those rare events. An FPGA is an Array of Gates that is Field-Programmable. Unlike CPU where all the logic cells are already fixed in place, FPGA puts everything in your hand. You customize things at the hardware level, connect the logic cells the way you want and get better performance than the average microcontroller.
Fomu is a programmable FPGA device, and it was designed to fit inside a standard USB Type-A slot. It has 4 buttons, RGB LED, two capacitance touch buttons, and an FPGA that is compatible with a fully open source chain and capable of running a RISC-V core. It is based on a Lattice iCE40UP5K with 5k LUTs and DSP tiles, along with 128KB of RAM and 2MB of Flash.