FPGA absolute beginer question

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Hey guys.

I would like to start learning of programming and how to use FPGA devices.

I have some simple questions.

1. Which company to sellect ?
2. Which tool to sellect (I am an Altium Designer user that includes VHDL and Verilog languages) ?
3. Which language to follow ?
4. Which starter kit to buy ?
5. What else do I have to purchase (JTAG, programmer, debugger, software) ?

Thank you in advance.

Michael.

User of:
IAR Embedded Workbench C/C++ Compiler
Altium Designer

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Which company to select? The two big guns are Altera and Xilinx. You pick.
Which tool? You choose. Verilog is said to be easier but VHDL is probably more common.
What starter kit? Altium have their magic nanoboard in Xilinx or Altera. Digilent have some boards as well. Some boards have the jtag interface built in.
Software? Most companies have free tools normally limited to the smaller devices.
Debugger? You use the simulator or a logic analyser.

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And while we are at it, has anyone tried any of these $10 USB Blaster programmers (Altera) off ebay, like this one?

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Hi there. Thanks for your fast reply.

As I told you before, I would like to purchase a development kit for FPGA experimentation.

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Cyclone-NIOS-II-Altera-FPGA-Development-Board-EP2C8Q208-USB-Blaster-programmer-/261068283772?pt=UK_Computing_Other_Computing_Networking&hash=item3cc8e1df7c

Any opinion would help me.

Regards,

Michael.

User of:
IAR Embedded Workbench C/C++ Compiler
Altium Designer

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PM sent about spare FPGA development kit.

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What little I know about FPGAs I learned on a board from these folks:
http://www.digilentinc.com/Produ...

I got a Xilinx board and downloaded free Xilinx tools. Didn't need a programmer, just a USB cable (included). FPGAs are fascinating!

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I'll put in another mention of both Verilog and the boards from Digilent Inc. I've found both to be easy to use ( or as easy to use as FPGAs get! ) and the free Xilinx tools have been sufficient for my needs. The only issues I've had were related to library version issues with my Linux install... easily fixed.

Martin Jay McKee

As with most things in engineering, the answer is an unabashed, "It depends."

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Since these questions are a matter of opinion, here are mine...

1) Xilinx (Lots of great FPGA offerings).
2) Use the Xilinx IDE. It is free and works well.
3) Verilog. you can learn it in a day.
4) Xess kit. Tons of IO and powerful FPGA.
5) The Xess kit comes complete.

For my work, IO and block RAM was key, and this kit has plenty of both...

http://xess.com/prods/prod035.php

Brad

I Like to Build Stuff : http://www.AtomicZombie.com

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Hey, AtomicZombie!

I've not seen that board before so I took a look. Is the programming really done over a parallel port?

As of January 15, 2018, Site fix-up work has begun! Now do your part and report any bugs or deficiencies here

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"Some questions have no answers."[C Baird] "There comes a point where the spoon-feeding has to stop and the independent thinking has to start." [C Lawson] "There are always ways to disagree, without being disagreeable."[E Weddington] "Words represent concepts. Use the wrong words, communicate the wrong concept." [J Morin] "Persistence only goes so far if you set yourself up for failure." [Kartman]

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Sort of. It comes with a USB adapter and uses their XESS loader. It is extremely fast and works on every workstation I have tried. I have been very happy with the board. I actually lifted the SDRAM and hand soldered wires to an SRAM and it still performs perfectly at 100MHz.

The Lattice MachXo board is nice too, but I have not had too much time on it to try high speed designs yet.

Brad

I Like to Build Stuff : http://www.AtomicZombie.com

Last Edited: Fri. Nov 2, 2012 - 06:59 PM
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I see some really nice things in favour of the Xess card, e.g. the large amount of RAM, and the possibility to have four different bitfiles loaded into the flash on the card, and one of them selected to be loaded into the FPGA at power up. Four apps on one card!

(I already have a Digilent S3BOARD, so the Xess is not for me right now - but thank you for the heads up!)

Slightly related: Have anyone used/read the Digilent book "Digital Design, 2nd ed." (either the VHDL or the Verilog version)? Your opinions?

As of January 15, 2018, Site fix-up work has begun! Now do your part and report any bugs or deficiencies here

No guarantees, but if we don't report problems they won't get much of  a chance to be fixed! Details/discussions at link given just above.

 

"Some questions have no answers."[C Baird] "There comes a point where the spoon-feeding has to stop and the independent thinking has to start." [C Lawson] "There are always ways to disagree, without being disagreeable."[E Weddington] "Words represent concepts. Use the wrong words, communicate the wrong concept." [J Morin] "Persistence only goes so far if you set yourself up for failure." [Kartman]

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Interesting.

I have to admit, I'm here simply because the IDE is free and years ago I could afford to buy the ISP.

Now, to figure out how to make a living with it

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If you know my whole story, you're an accomplice. Keep your mouth shut.