Arduino, the 15-year-old startup behind the eponymous open source microcontroller, launched two new products today at Maker Faire Bay Area 2018: Uno WiFi Rev 2, the first Arduino development board with integrated Wi-Fi, and MKR Vidor 4000, a board with a programmable FPGA.
The MKR Vidor 4000, the Arduino flagship product unveiled today, boasts the aforementioned FPGA, or field programmable gate array. Unlike a microcontroller or microprocessor, which has dedicated pins for specific features, FPGAs are programmable at the hardware level and store their configurations in RAM. Developers have the freedom to design the circuit in addition to software.
“We’ve created a simple path for users to create custom behavior with an Arduino board,” Arduino CEO Fabio Violante told VentureBeat in a phone interview.
The MKR Vidor 4000 pairs the Intel Max 10 FPGA with a SAMD21 microcontroller and a wireless chip (the U-blox Nina W102-00B WiFi), plus an ECC508 cryptography platform that encrypts network connections, a mini-HDMI for external displays, and a camera input.
The microcontroller allows for flexibility in using the FPGA, Violante said. Developers can configure it to switch off for power management when it is not being used, for example.
For users who prefer a plug-and-play solution, Arduino is making a set of libraries with predefined circuits available on its website. In the future, members of the Arduino community will be able to contribute designs for unique use cases, like object detection, motor control, or barcode scanning,
“There’s a countless number of possibilities,” Violante said.
If that sounds a little daunting, Arduino is introducing a new visual editor to make things easier. The drag-and-drop app, which will launch on the Arduino website in the second quarter of 2018, will allow programmers to configure the chip by rearranging “blocks” that represent libraries.
“Users will be able to pick the intellectual property [and] libraries they want,” Violante said. “It will be very easy to use. Very accessible.”
Arduino was founded in 2003 in Ivrea, Italy and has an active community of more than 40 million users. Last October, it announced a partnership with British semiconductor and software design company ARM Holdings.