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'[OT] FPGA programming for Dummies?'
2005\02\25@091905 by William Couture

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Hi!

I was wondering if anyone had an pointers to some sort of
"FPGA programming for dummies" tutorials?

Thanks,
  Bill

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2005\02\25@102031 by ThePicMan

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At 09.19 2005.02.25 -0500, you wrote:
>Hi!
>
>I was wondering if anyone had an pointers to some sort of
>"FPGA programming for dummies" tutorials?

This one is excellent:

http://www.fpga4fun.com

--
TPM

2005\02\25@102358 by Madhu Annapragada

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Someone mentioned a Xilix Spartan Starter Kit for a hundred bucks some
time ago on the list and I went out and bought one (from Xilinx direct).
 It comes with a dev board and is probably the best way, in my opinion,
to get started with FPGAs..is working great for me.
Madhu

William Couture wrote:
> Hi!
>
> I was wondering if anyone had an pointers to some sort of
> "FPGA programming for dummies" tutorials?
>
> Thanks,
>    Bill
>

2005\02\25@103832 by Marc Nicholas

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On Fri, 25 Feb 2005, ThePicMan wrote:

> At 09.19 2005.02.25 -0500, you wrote:
>> Hi!
>>
>> I was wondering if anyone had an pointers to some sort of
>> "FPGA programming for dummies" tutorials?
>
> This one is excellent:
>
> http://www.fpga4fun.com

I also have Jean's (fpga4fun.com) Pluto and Pluto-II boards. Both are nice
little devices if you want a cheap Altera dev board.

As previously mentioned, the Xilinx Spartan-III demo board is a steal at
$99 from Digilent or Xilinx (it's actually made by Digilent). Digilent
also recently released larger capacity (400k and 1m gates) versions of
this board, which are useful if you're looking to do embedded CPU work.


-marc

2005\02\25@120850 by Shawn Tan Ser Ngiap

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> I was wondering if anyone had an pointers to some sort of
> "FPGA programming for dummies" tutorials?

Well, I'm assuming that you're just starting out from the basics.. So, I would
recommend that you do this:

Learn up a language that suits you.. there are many out there but the common
ones are verilog/vhdl.. Most importantly, you'll need to understand how each
segment of your 'code' is synthesized into hardware.. It will save you hours
of debugging if you started coding from a hardware perspective rather than a
software perspective (synthesizable vs non-synthesizable)..

As they're not cheap, I would say that getting a board should come a little
later.. Different FPGA are suitable for different things and different boards
are made for different applications.. So, once you've better understood
things, you'll be able to make a better investment..

What you'll need now is a development environment.. All the major FPGA vendors
give them away for free.. Just download it from their website.. Then hack
away.. Code, Synthesize, Simulate, Repeat... (Just remember to simulate
post-synthesis and not only pre-synthesis)..

There are also open source software.. A good verilog simulator is Icarus
Verilog and also Cver.. They generate standard VCD dump files that you can
view with any waveform viewer.. Icarus can also do synthesis as well..

For lots of code examples, simple and difficult, you may want to visit
http://www.opencores.org.. That's probably the largest open source hardware
repository around..

cheers..

--
with metta,
Shawn Tan.

2005\02\25@122603 by David P Harris

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Marc Nicholas wrote:

> I also have Jean's (fpga4fun.com) Pluto and Pluto-II boards. Both are
> nice little devices if you want a cheap Altera dev board.
>
> As previously mentioned, the Xilinx Spartan-III demo board is a steal
> at $99 from Digilent or Xilinx (it's actually made by Digilent).
> Digilent also recently released larger capacity (400k and 1m gates)
> versions of this board, which are useful if you're looking to do
> embedded CPU work.
>
>
> -marc

I bought one of these packages --- now to do something with it!

David



2005\02\25@124728 by Neil Cherry

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Shawn Tan Ser Ngiap wrote:
>>I was wondering if anyone had an pointers to some sort of
>>"FPGA programming for dummies" tutorials?
>
>
> Well, I'm assuming that you're just starting out from the basics.. So, I would
> recommend that you do this:
>
> Learn up a language that suits you.. there are many out there but the common
> ones are verilog/vhdl.. Most importantly, you'll need to understand how each
> segment of your 'code' is synthesized into hardware.. It will save you hours
> of debugging if you started coding from a hardware perspective rather than a
> software perspective (synthesizable vs non-synthesizable)..
>
> As they're not cheap, I would say that getting a board should come a ...

I'm in the same boat as the OP. I found this for $49 US ($9 S&H):

http://www.future-active.com/eStore/ProductDetails.aspx?ProductIdentifier=CYCLONE-NIOSII-KITPGM4384848

--
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http://linuxha.blogspot.com/                    My HA Blog

2005\02\25@134653 by Padu

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> >> I was wondering if anyone had an pointers to some sort of
> >> "FPGA programming for dummies" tutorials?
> >
> > This one is excellent:
> >
> > http://www.fpga4fun.com
>


I am sorry an even dummier question, but what is the utility of fpgas? Are
they complemental to microcontrollers? Why would I want to use one?

If they are volatile like RAM, then I can only guess that if I was to
include one in a design, then I'd have to have something (a microcontroller)
to program them?

2005\02\25@170247 by Alex Harford

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On Fri, 25 Feb 2005 10:44:49 -0800, Padu <.....padupicKILLspamspam@spam@merlotti.com> wrote:
>
> I am sorry an even dummier question, but what is the utility of fpgas? Are
> they complemental to microcontrollers? Why would I want to use one?
>
> If they are volatile like RAM, then I can only guess that if I was to
> include one in a design, then I'd have to have something (a microcontroller)
> to program them?

Not a dumb question!  

They don't all need a microcontroller to program them, they can
download automatically from flash (which are programmed via JTAG etc),
which is relatively fast.

Alex

2005\02\25@171717 by Marc Nicholas

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Alex touches on an interesting point: most (but not all) FPGAs are volatile
devices. They need to be bootstrapped with code....either from a
complimentary PROM device or from a microcontroller etc.

You *can* get static FPGAs....but they're generally low density devices.

-marc


On 2/25/05 5:02 PM, "Alex Harford" <harfordspamKILLspamgmail.com> wrote:

{Quote hidden}

2005\02\25@172805 by Herbert Graf

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On Fri, 2005-02-25 at 10:44 -0800, Padu wrote:
> I am sorry an even dummier question, but what is the utility of fpgas? Are
> they complemental to microcontrollers? Why would I want to use one?

FPGAs are great for customized, high I/O, high speed and low complexity
operations.

Of course there's nothing stopping someone from putting an MCU core into
an FPGA (and many do it), the more common use of FPGAs are cases where
MCUs just don't have the horsepower/IO for the complexity needed. A good
example is interfacing to PCI: high IO, low complexity (relatively).

A newer example would be interfacing to PCIE, MCUs have no chance (at
the moment), the task is certainly doable with an FPGA (of the right
type).

> If they are volatile like RAM, then I can only guess that if I was to
> include one in a design, then I'd have to have something (a microcontroller)
> to program them?

Most FPGAs offer an easy method to program, i.e. many have a sort of
EEPROM you connect to the FPGA that programs the FPGA on powerup
(probably more accurate is to say the FPGA programs itself fetching the
bit stream from the external PROM).

There are some newer FPGAs with non-volatile memory that don't need to
be programmed on powerup, but those are relativly rare. TTYL


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

2005\02\25@182927 by Mike Harrison

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On Fri, 25 Feb 2005 10:44:49 -0800, you wrote:

>> >> I was wondering if anyone had an pointers to some sort of
>> >> "FPGA programming for dummies" tutorials?
>> >
>> > This one is excellent:
>> >
>> > http://www.fpga4fun.com
>>
>
>
>I am sorry an even dummier question, but what is the utility of fpgas? Are
>they complemental to microcontrollers? Why would I want to use one?
>
>If they are volatile like RAM, then I can only guess that if I was to
>include one in a design, then I'd have to have something (a microcontroller)
>to program them?

Some are flash based. SRAM ones are configured from a serial memory device, or from a host
microcontroller if available.

The main advantages of FPGAs are speed - can be several hundred MHz, large numbers of IO (there are
FPGAs with >1000 pins!) and the ability to do multiple things simultaneously, e.g. parallel
processing of wide data paths.

They are often used in conjuction with micros, as there are many things that are more efficiently
done in software. You can also incorporate micros within the FPGA itself (e.g. Xilinx picoblaze and
Microblaze). Atmel make a combined  AVR and FPGA on one chip.    

2005\02\26@022425 by liam .

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> What you'll need now is a development environment.. All the major FPGA vendors
> give them away for free.. Just download it from their website.. Then hack
> away.. Code, Synthesize, Simulate, Repeat... (Just remember to simulate
> post-synthesis and not only pre-synthesis)..
>


Anyone got some links or names of manufactures which have free
development environments??  I was under the impression I would be up
for some really expensive 3rd party software.

2005\02\26@101529 by csb

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> Anyone got some links or names of manufactures which have free
> development environments??  I was under the impression I would be up
> for some really expensive 3rd party software.

Xilinx has its ISE 6.3 free webpack (200MB download, or inexpensive CD)
Altera has Quartus II, free for download
Atmel has IDS, integrated dev system (I think), also free for download
Lattice semi: I have no idea. their FPGA families are weird.
Actel: Their software seems more modular than xilinx, but it looks
free (not sure though)

Those are the ones I know about, possibly also the biggest and easiest
to find.

Good luck,
Christian

2005\02\26@105245 by Herbert Graf

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On Sat, 2005-02-26 at 17:54 +1030, liam . wrote:
> > What you'll need now is a development environment.. All the major FPGA vendors
> > give them away for free.. Just download it from their website.. Then hack
> > away.. Code, Synthesize, Simulate, Repeat... (Just remember to simulate
> > post-synthesis and not only pre-synthesis)..
> >
>
>
> Anyone got some links or names of manufactures which have free
> development environments??  I was under the impression I would be up
> for some really expensive 3rd party software.

The big ones definitely do, Xilinx has their "web pack", which is
basically the full ISE environment chip limited to parts
hobbyists/students would use (i.e. no 1000 pin Vertex4 support).

I'm certain Altera offers a version of their MaxPlus for free, at least
they used to. Haven't used Altera since school. TTYL


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

2005\02\28@063331 by Alan B. Pearce

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>> Anyone got some links or names of manufactures which have free
>> development environments??  I was under the impression I would be up
>> for some really expensive 3rd party software.
>
>Xilinx has its ISE 6.3 free webpack (200MB download, or inexpensive CD)
>Altera has Quartus II, free for download
>Atmel has IDS, integrated dev system (I think), also free for download
>Lattice semi: I have no idea. their FPGA families are weird.
>Actel: Their software seems more modular than xilinx, but it looks
>free (not sure though)
>
>Those are the ones I know about, possibly also the biggest and easiest
>to find.

On top of that, remember that many PSpice packages have means of simulating
the internals of FPGA's, and may also provide the necessary files to program
them. I believe OrCad does things like this but haven't got as far as
investigating it yet (a "one day" project), or else they have the FPGA
software as an inherent part of the package hooked back into the PSpice
part. OK, this is not free, but if you already happen to have a PSpice
package, investigate it, you might find you already have the tools.

2005\02\28@065024 by ThePicMan

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By the way, please, can anybody suggest a truly valid book on Verilog?
Introductory but advanced as well or, if both can't coexist, only the latter..

Thanks!

2005\02\28@104532 by csb

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> By the way, please, can anybody suggest a truly valid book on Verilog?
> Introductory but advanced as well or, if both can't coexist, only the
> latter..
http://www.eng.auburn.edu/department/ee/mgc/vhdl.html

www-ee.uta.edu/online/hatcher/Spring_2003/
http://www.stanford.edu/class/ee183/
http://www.icarus.com/eda/verilog/
http://www.freehdl.seul.org/
http://www.geda.seul.org/
http://www.opencollector.org/
http://www.fpga4fun.com/links.html

http://www.eng.auburn.edu/department/ee/mgc/
http://www.seas.upenn.edu/~ee201/vhdl/vhdl_primer.html <---
www.people.vcu.edu/~rhklenke/tutorials/vhdl/
http://www.vhdl-online.de/~vhdl/tutorial/

Most of theses are about VHDL (which you might consider), but if you
follow around a few of the links on those pages, you'll find many many
free ressources about PLDs, HDL, simulators, etc. fpga4fun has many
good links, and looks like a good place to start.

Good luck,
Christian


'[OT] FPGA programming for Dummies?'
2005\03\02@090416 by alan smith
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Its at home....big blue book....HDL Coding.....or something like that.....has side by side comparisons of Verilog and VHDL

ThePicMan <EraseMEthepicmanspam_OUTspamTakeThisOuTinfinito.it> wrote:
By the way, please, can anybody suggest a truly valid book on Verilog?
Introductory but advanced as well or, if both can't coexist, only the latter..

Thanks!

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