BlackIce - Low Cost Open Hardware FPGA Dev Board

BlackIce is the fusion of FPGA & ARM - a low cost open source hardware FPGA dev board bound together with innovative open source toolchain

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"BlackIce" is the combination of a 32-bit ARM microcontroller and a versatile low power FPGA – an open hardware platform – brought to life with an innovative open source software toolchain.Low costCompact 75 x 75mmLattice iCE40HX4K – 144pin LQFP package with up to 60 I/O lines PMOD and double PMOD connectors on 0.1″ grid spacing for easy interfacingArduino compatible shield headers – giving 5V tolerant GPIO, 12 bit ADC and peripheralsAn onboard ARM M4 for handling USB comms, GPIO and ADC channels and FPGA loadingFast 10nS 256K x 16 SRAM – allows exploration of soft cpus.All files on GitLab (Aug 2017) we now have 6502 soft cpu and Acorn Atom running

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Sam wrote 07/02/2021 at 05:29 point

Hi, is the board still available for purchase and shipped to Germany?

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monsonite wrote 08/27/2017 at 11:40 point

By way of an update - we have had another batch of BlackIce boards manufactured in China - and these are now on general sale priced $52.50 plus $7 shipping.  Contact me ken dot boak at gmail dot com for details.  

In addition, one of our forum members, Dave Banks, has got an implementation of the 1980s Acron Atom running on the BlackIce hardware - using a soft core 6502 and the internal block RAM available in the FPGA.  The FPGA also provides a VGA output to a screen and interfaces to a PS/2 keyboard.  More details on the forum

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Ed S wrote 08/27/2017 at 12:12 point

6502, FGPA, and ARM - all the elements of an excellent project. Reconfigurable computing is great.

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matseng wrote 08/27/2017 at 14:20 point

I wish there was a downloadable VM with the complete toolchain..... 

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monsonite wrote 08/27/2017 at 14:59 point

Hi Matseng,

This is a case of where the open source community require you to do a bit of detective work.

I found the best way to install the toolchain was using APIO - which is an IDE plug-in that sits on top of the atom editor - and basically provides a development environment for open source FPGA.

APIO was written by our Spanish colleagues at "FPGAwars"  and they are trailblazing these developments.

Might I suggest that you start here and follow their installation guide.

The biggest problem is that this has to work for Linux, MAC and Windows - but slowly we are finding workable solutions for all three platforms.

My familiarity is only with Windows - and I wrote a getting started guide here and a longer version on my blog here:

I hope that some of this will point you in the right direction.



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matseng wrote 08/27/2017 at 15:23 point

Well, I already spent the time and effort to install it all in a VM so I'm currently all set - thanks ;-)

 But imagine the combined wasted time of 10 000 people doing this instead of one knowledgeable guy just every now and then creating a proper VM containing a linux guest with the toolset and some utilities setup that can be run in any host os.

I on a mac host, but I'm using win7 guests for my ARM/Verifone development, and Linux guests for backend development in golang.  There's really no major problems with OS'es when running in a virtual environment.  That's the beauty with VMs - the host OS and the guest OS is completely decoupled.

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darkstar007 wrote 11/07/2016 at 17:38 point

Hi. I have a question after watching the video - you say that the ARM has a 5Ms/s ADC on it - is it going to be possible to move (i.e. stream) that amount of data from the ADC to the FPGA continuously? I mainly do signal processing, so that would have a lot of potential opportunities. Thanks.

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darkstar007 wrote 10/29/2016 at 12:29 point

Thanks for the update! Hope I get to buy one in December.

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monsonite wrote 10/29/2016 at 11:21 point

I should add that we are offering a fully specified System Design Kit - available for $49 plus shipping from early December. 

Early next year we will produce a lower spec version which will sell for $30 plus shipping

In order to keep shipping costs down, we hope to bulk ship from Shenzhen, China, and use local territorial distributors.

We will be announcing discounts for bulk purchase (10+) - for schools, colleges, makerspaces - to be confirmed in the New Year.

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monsonite wrote 10/29/2016 at 11:01 point

DarkStar - thanks for asking. Here is a much needed update. 

 I can only apologise for the delay - but there has been a lot happening behind the scenes.


We had 50 boards made in July - these have all gone out to early birds.

We debuted the board at the Open Source Hardware Camp - OSHCamp in early September - where the first 25 "freebie" boards were used to run a weekend workshop on the IceStorm toolchain and verilog programming

We have presented the board at the Open Source Hardware Users Group in London in mid-October.

There has been an update to the pcb - and we are just building up pcb the sample this weekend (Oct 29/30).   If the pcb is good we will be making a batch off 250 of these in Shenzhen in 2 weeks time, and they will be in the US/UK/EU by early December  - in time for the Christmas holiday period.  If initial sales are good - there will be a follow-up of 250 pieces in January.

The first boards have been released as an SDK and details of this are now on the website.


In early October we attended the open RISC conference ORconf in Bologna, Italy - and were well received.  All of the sample SDKs we took with us were snapped up.

There's a video of Alan's presentation to ORconf :

They have been linked to from the schedule


A YouTube playlist for the talks is also available here:


A friend in Germany has got a Forth soft core cpu running in the FPGA,
and there is progress on several other fronts  both in UK, EU and USA.

James Bowman's J1a Forth core runs on a 1K myStorm - and James and I are working to make full use of the available resources of the 4K (actually 8K) myStorm FPGA and ARM Resources


I will be visiting Northern California between 17th November and 28th November, to speak to various organisations, potential customers and distributors.  I will be attending makerspaces in the Bay Area.

All of our documentation can be found on our website

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darkstar007 wrote 10/29/2016 at 08:23 point

Is there any news - there doesn't seem to have been an update for a while? 

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Ken Boak wrote 08/03/2016 at 15:26 point

Yes - watch this space - hope to have production boards available by mid September

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zakqwy wrote 08/03/2016 at 15:10 point

Neat! I just bought an iCEstick, but this seems like a far better option.. so much more I/O breakout!

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