Papilio DUO, the amazing drag-n-drop FGPA
Some time ago I talked about the Papilio Pro. This amazing FPGA-based board is still one of my favourite and least understood boards. The reconfigurable "fabric" of an FPGA can be moulded, by means of a hardware description language, into almost any digital hardware you can concieve. This makes the Papilio Pro capable of replicating a Pacman Arcade Board, or even a powerful 32bit Arduino-compatible the ZPUino,
Brilliant though it was, where the Papilio Pro failed was in making this technology approachable by mere mortals. The Papilio DUO aims to change this.
By far its key selling point is the drag-and-drop software that GadgetFactory are working on to allow you to "draw" your circuits with basic components and then have all the HDL taken care of by the software.
Basically, you draw it, compile it, flash it and the FPGA reconfigures its internal structure to match your design. As mind-blowing as it may seem, this gives you the ability to rapidly put together real hardware components to back up your Arduino sketches.
The idea is that the DUO provides a "circuit lab", limitless opportunity to explore, debug, tweak and tinker with real digital hardware that you've created with the enhanced Arduino IDE. Features like the built-in, drop-in Logic Probe ( equivilent to an OpenBench Logic Sniffer ) make it much easier to debug the results, and incidentally make it easy to use the DUO as a logic probe in its own right.
The Papilio DUO is currently on Kickstarter, and almost certainly destined to be funded. If you want to start drawing your own hardware and talking to it from an ATmega, then get on over and grab one: Papilio DUO kickstarter campaign.