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“Smartphone” with FPGA at its core, physical keyboard and incredible capabilities. Precursor will reach buyers only next year



Modern smartphones can usually stand out in design, some particular feature or function. The Precursor mobile device, presented last year, may not be correctly called a smartphone at all, but if it is still a smartphone, it is clearly the most unusual.

The bottom line is that Precursor is an open hardware development platform for secure mobile computing and communications. This is exactly what the company’s website says. One of the main features of the device is its heart. This is not the usual single-chip system, but the Xilinx XC7S50 FPGA. That is, a smartphone can be reprogrammed, including at the hardware level, turning it into a specialized device for some specific tasks.

Last year, the creators of the device successfully raised more than $ 400,000 for its release, promising deliveries in December 2021. However, the consequences of the pandemic and the shortage of chips have made adjustments to these plans. It is now reported that deliveries are unlikely to begin earlier than February 2022. However, this has a plus. While Precursor was originally planned to ship with a demo version of the software, now developers will have more time to complete the Xous operating system.

Returning to the device, it is worth noting dimensions 138 x 69 x 7.2 mm, display with a resolution of 336 x 536 pixels, a battery with a capacity of 1100 mAh, which should be enough for 5-6 hours of screen operation, a physical keyboard, adapters for wireless interfaces, 16 MB SRAM, 128MB flash, a couple of pseudo-random number generators, and more.

As for the FPGA itself, by default it emulates a 32-bit RICS-V processor with a frequency of 100 MHz, but you can emulate a whole range of different CPUs, controllers, and so on.

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