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'[EE] Starting with FPGA'
2005\10\26@153713 by Mario Mendes Jr.

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Can anyone recommend an FPGA book, website, dev board for someone with
limited electronics experience (me)?  Not expensive is key.

Limited electronics experience -> self taught, good with digital circuits
but couldn't design much analog stuff from scratch without help.  I can
build pic circuits and program them, but couldn't create a sawtooth
generator.

Thanks.


-Mario

2005\10\26@162206 by Herbert Graf

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On Wed, 2005-10-26 at 15:37 -0400, Mario Mendes Jr. wrote:
> Can anyone recommend an FPGA book, website, dev board for someone with
> limited electronics experience (me)?  Not expensive is key.
>
> Limited electronics experience -> self taught, good with digital circuits
> but couldn't design much analog stuff from scratch without help.  I can
> build pic circuits and program them, but couldn't create a sawtooth
> generator.

If you're completely new to the world of programmable logic I'd start
with a CPLD dev kit. CPLDs are simpler by nature and a little easier to
get your head around. Also there are some available in hobbyist friendly
packages.

After the dev kit you'll need to learn an HDL (hardware description
language). There are two out there: VHDL and Verilog. VHDL is the
oldtimer, it's been around for ages. Verilog is newer and I personally
find it FAR easier to learn then VHDL.

My recommendation? Go with a dev kit from Xilinx (one of the larger
FPGA/CPLD manufacturers). They have software (called the "webpack")
which is completely free and covers most of their low end parts. It
comes with a basic simulator as well (VERY important to have, even if
you're NOT a beginner!).

The following is a CPLD dev board which would be perfect for a beginner:
http://www.xilinx.com/xlnx/xebiz/designResources/ip_product_details.jsp?key=DO-CPLD-DK

It's $49USD + shipping and includes everything you need to get going.

If you've willing to spend a little more I would strongly recommend
getting the following:
http://www.xilinx.com/xlnx/xebiz/designResources/ip_product_details.jsp?key=HW-SPAR3-CPLD-DK

which, aside from the CPLD kit above, also includes an FPGA dev kit:
http://www.xilinx.com/xlnx/xebiz/designResources/ip_product_details.jsp?key=DO-SPAR3-DK

While the bundle is $99USD + shipping I think it's well worth the money
if your serious about going into FPGAs.

You could go with just the FPGA kit if you're willing to try the steeper
learning curve of FPGAs, but for a beginner CPLDs are more friendly.
Plus being able to use CPLDs is nice because sometimes you don't need
the added complexity and gate density an FPGA gives you.

TTYL

-----------------------------
Herbert's PIC Stuff:
http://repatch.dyndns.org:8383/pic_stuff/

2005\10\26@163054 by Denny Esterline

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There's this guy:
http://www.fpga4fun.com/
I haven't bought anything from him, but his website looks interesting.
and this guy:
http://tutor.al-williams.com/pldx-1.htm
Good luck,
-Denny


Can anyone recommend an FPGA book, website, dev board for someone with
{Quote hidden}

>

2005\10\26@163731 by Robert Young

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>From: "Mario Mendes Jr." <spam_OUTmarioTakeThisOuTspammmendes.com>
>Reply-To: "Microcontroller discussion list - Public." <.....piclistKILLspamspam@spam@mit.edu>
>To: piclistspamKILLspammit.edu
>Subject: [EE] Starting with FPGA
>Date: Wed, 26 Oct 2005 15:37:11 -0400 (EDT)
>
>Can anyone recommend an FPGA book, website, dev board for someone with
>limited electronics experience (me)?  Not expensive is key.
>
>Limited electronics experience -> self taught, good with digital circuits
>but couldn't design much analog stuff from scratch without help.  I can
>build pic circuits and program them, but couldn't create a sawtooth
>generator.
>
>Thanks.
>
>
>-Mario

http://www.fpga4fun.com/ has nice tutorials for VHDL and Verilog.  He
describes how to get and install both Quartus (Altera) and ISE (Xilinx) but
information might be a software revision behind.

And he sells at a reasonable price, some fun little FPGA boards.

Site has a forum, moderately active and good advice.


Rob


2005\10\26@185029 by James Humes

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I love the Spartan 3 family of FPGA and use the free xilinx ISE tools for
it. VHDL is a nice language to use, and the book "Designer's Guide to VHDL"
got me far. Also, a great place to buy a nice dev board is
http://www.digilentinc.com <http://www.digilentinc.com> . FPGAs are FUN and I've
used the site FPGA4FUN for reference as I play around.
James

On 10/26/05, Robert Young <.....rwybeakerKILLspamspam.....hotmail.com> wrote:
{Quote hidden}

>

2005\10\26@191732 by Roy Ward

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Herbert Graf wrote:

>After the dev kit you'll need to learn an HDL (hardware description
>language). There are two out there: VHDL and Verilog. VHDL is the
>oldtimer, it's been around for ages. Verilog is newer and I personally
>find it FAR easier to learn then VHDL.
>  
>
I do a fair bit of stuff with FPGA's (yes, they are lots of fun!), and
one thing I have found really valuable in HDL programming is to have a
good simulator - you can put debugging statments in simulator code that
you can't ahve on an actual FPGA.

I'm using Icarus Verilog, and have a makefile set up to code for either
Icarus Verilog or the Xilinx toolchain we use at the flip of an option.

www.*icarus*.com/eda/*verilog*/

(although the website seems to be down at the moment)

Cheers,
Roy Ward.


2005\10\26@192500 by Mike Harrison

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On Wed, 26 Oct 2005 16:50:29 -0600, you wrote:

>I love the Spartan 3 family of FPGA and use the free xilinx ISE tools for
>it. VHDL is a nice language to use, and the book "Designer's Guide to VHDL"
>got me far. Also, a great place to buy a nice dev board is
>http://www.digilentinc.com <http://www.digilentinc.com> . FPGAs are FUN and I've
>used the site FPGA4FUN for reference as I play around.
> James


Here's another cheap Spartan-3 board, which comes with a bigger chip  :
http://www.enterpoint.co.uk/moelbryn/raggedstone1.html

The Xilinx S3 starter kit one is also good.

You can get started with xilinx using schematic entry, although you will probably want to go to VHDL
or Verilog fairly quickly, There is an excellent book called 'VHDL for Programmable Logic" by  a guy
from Cypress, althoiugh it covers all the general stuff.  Not sure if it;s still in print. There are
also a couple of VHDL tutorials online.
One problem with VHDL is that it does a lot of stuff that is not relevant to FPGAs, and so you need
to know the subset that can sensibly be used, and have faith that the software tools will figure out
what you are trying to do & map it sensibly into the logic..

If you're not doing anything too challenging complexity-wise (so compile/place/route time is
reasonable) and speed-wise (so you can assume it will always be fast enough), and are used to a
'write-test-debug' process, it is entirely possible to do without simulation.


{Quote hidden}

>> --

2005\10\27@180646 by Mario Mendes Jr.

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Thanks for the tips guys.

-Mario


2005\10\28@123129 by alan smith

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The biggest difference between FPGA and CPLD is the ability to do more floor planning and timing control.  CPLD's are like PAL, PEELs and PLDs where the timing, meaning the prop delays between registers are fixed.  They typically are cheaper as well.  

Writing code....VHDL, Verilog or SystemC.  I prefer verilog, but there is support for all of it out there.  

In anycase, the basic structures for HDL are alot the same for both CPLD's and FPGAs.  What you find are details with the specific devices that affect the upper level portion of the code, rather than the subroutines that do the work.

Follow the suggestions....Altera and Xilinx are the major players, with Lattic playing catchup and they do have some nice new parts (took the orca line if anyone remembers those parts)



               
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'[EE] Starting with FPGA'
2005\11\06@222014 by k Alexeev (sent by Nabble.com)
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Herbert Graf wrote:
>
> If you've willing to spend a little more I would strongly recommend
> getting the following:
> www.xilinx.com/xlnx/xebiz/designResources/ip_product_details.jsp?key=HW-SPAR3-CPLD-DK
>


Herbert,

Xilinx web site mentions that there is an evaluation of the Embedded Development Kit software included in the kit, but it doesn't give any details about the licesne.  Do you know by any chance, if it includes the license for the PicoBlaze?  How long does the evaluation version last?  

Thanks,
Nick
--
Sent from the MicroControllers - PIC forum at Nabble.com:
www.nabble.com/-EE-Starting-with-FPGA-t454408.html#a1362823

2005\11\06@234055 by Herbert Graf

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On Sun, 2005-11-06 at 19:20 -0800, Nick Alexeev (sent by Nabble.com)
wrote:
>
>
> Herbert Graf wrote:
> >
> > If you've willing to spend a little more I would strongly recommend
> > getting the following:
> > www.xilinx.com/xlnx/xebiz/designResources/ip_product_details.jsp?key=HW-SPAR3-CPLD-DK
> >
>
>
> Herbert,
>
> Xilinx web site mentions that there is an evaluation of the Embedded Development Kit software included in the kit, but it doesn't give any details about the licesne.  Do you know by any chance, if it includes the license for the PicoBlaze?  How long does the evaluation version last?  

Unfortunately I don't know what the Pico-Blaze is or whether the
included version supports it.

I am fortunate enough to have access to the full version of ISE. I did
run the free version at one point a long time ago and was only concerned
that it supported the CPLD I was using at the time.

Best idea would be to contact Xilinx, or download the software and find
out. TTYL

-----------------------------
Herbert's PIC Stuff:
http://repatch.dyndns.org:8383/pic_stuff/

2005\11\07@042834 by Mike Harrison

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On Sun, 6 Nov 2005 19:20:13 -0800 (PST), you wrote:

>
>
>
>Herbert Graf wrote:
>>
>> If you've willing to spend a little more I would strongly recommend
>> getting the following:
>> www.xilinx.com/xlnx/xebiz/designResources/ip_product_details.jsp?key=HW-SPAR3-CPLD-DK
>>
>
>
>Herbert,
>
>Xilinx web site mentions that there is an evaluation of the Embedded Development Kit software included in the kit, but it doesn't give any details about the licesne.  Do you know by any chance, if it includes the license for the PicoBlaze?  How long does the evaluation version last?  

Picoblaze is a free download. EDK is for Microblaze.
Best place to ask about this is the comp.arch.fpga newsgroup - there are a couple of Xilinx staff
who regularly post there.

2005\11\08@174627 by k Alexeev (sent by Nabble.com)

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Actually, I meant MicroBlaze, not PicoBlaze.  I have called-up Xilinx tech support, who told me that the evaluations of the ISE and EDK included in the kit work for 60 days.  Luckily, I have ma-any PCs in my disposal. :)
--
Sent from the MicroControllers - PIC forum at Nabble.com:
www.nabble.com/-EE-Starting-with-FPGA-t454408.html#a1394841

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