Getting started VHDL, VHDL for Dummies, Easy Steps for FPGA experiments

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Dear FPGA and VHDL Experts,

I am new to FPGA and VHDL. I would like to learn VHDL and start
experimenting FPGA. I beleive I learn faster and better by experimenting.
What would you recommend for beginners like me to getting started with VHDL
and FPGA experimentation ?
Which SW (for WinXP and/or Fedora Linux ) for VHDL?
Which start-up experimentation board for FPGA?
Which URL, books etc for easy to start experiment?

Many thanks for your help.

Kutaj Vamor






Re: Getting started VHDL, VHDL for Dummies, Easy Steps for FPGA experiments

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Go to http://www.fpga4fun.com/ . They have a number of tutorials and
cheap development boards.

Regards
  Anton Erasmus


Re: Getting started VHDL, VHDL for Dummies, Easy Steps for FPGA experiments
Hi Kutaj,

I recommend downloading free Xilinx ISE WebPACK design software from
Xilinx since at least Xilinx gives you a very slow HDL simulator
(ModelSim XE-Starter) unlike Altera, Actel, or Lattice.
I believe ModelSim XE-Starter supports Windows only, so I recommend
sticking to Windows for the time being.
I also recommend learning Verilog instead of VHDL because Verilog is
lighter and simpler language than VHDL. (VHDL is a "heavier" language
than Verilog in my opinion.)
         I know there are many different ways to learn HDL and FPGA, but
one method I recommend doing is to attach your FPGA to a desktop
computer via PCI bus, and experiment with the FPGA.
I myself tried learning HDL (Verilog and VHDL) reading books written
about them, but it didn't work out because either the examples in the
books were too short, boring (Like traffic light or vending machine
state machine example often used in HDL books.), or wasn't something
large enough like accessing an FPGA from a computer.
I always thought that attaching one's own FPGA to a desktop computer
will be an interesting project, so developed my own PCI interface to do
so, and in the process, I learned Verilog HDL. (Learned VHDL later by
porting Verilog HDL code to VHDL.)
PCI bus is a fairly complex bus (PCI Express is even worse.) which is
certainly intimidating for FPGA beginners, but the use of a PCI IP
(Intellectual Property) core can largely solve the problem, allowing the
FPGA beginner to concentrate on the user logic behind the PCI bus.
         BDS XPCI PCI IP core is a Xilinx (TM) LogiCORE (TM) PCI
compatible (replacement) PCI IP core developed by Brace Design Solutions.
BDS XPCI32 PCI IP core is available for as little as $100 for
non-commercial, non-profit, personal use, and the same 64-bit version
BDS XPCI64 PCI IP core (Includes BDS XPCI32 PCI IP core) goes for $200.
Since the pricing starts at only $100, it is ideal for HDL learners,
FPGA beginners, FPGA hobbyists, computer hardware enthusiasts, or
student graduation projects.
BDS XPCI PCI IP core comes with a PCI testbench for Verilog HDL which
allows the user to simulate the design extensively on an HDL simulator
like ModelSim before firing up the FPGA.
VHDL support is currently poor, but VHDL porting of reference designs
and PCI testbench should be available in a month.
BDS XPCI PCI IP core officially supports the following PCI boards.

- Insight Electronics Spartan-II 150 PCI (Already discontinued)

- Insight Electronics Spartan-II 200 PCI Development Kit
http://www.memec.com/uploaded/SpartanII200PCI.pdf


BDS XPCI PCI IP core "unofficially" supports the following PCI boards.

- Avnet Xilinx Spartan-3 Evaluation Kit
http://www.em.avnet.com/evk/home/0,1719,RID%253D0%2526CID%253D7816%2526CCD%253DUSA%2526SID%253D4742%2526DID%253DDF2%2526SRT%253D1%2526LID%253D18806%2526PVW%253D%2526BID%253DDF2%2526CTP%253DEVK,00.html
http://www.em.avnet.com/ctf_shared/evk/df2df2usa/Xilinx%20Spartan-3%20Evaluation%20Kit%20-%20Brief%20022504F.pdf

- Enterpoint Broaddown2 Development Board
http://www.enterpoint.co.uk/moelbryn/broaddown2.html


So with BDS XPCI PCI IP core, almost anyone can make their own PCI
device for about $400 to $500. ($300 to $400 for the board + $100 for
BDS XPCI32 PCI IP core)
For commercial users who want to modify a Xilinx LogiCORE PCI or want to
convert a design that uses Xilinx LogiCORE PCI to an ASIC (FPGA to ASIC
conversion), BDS XPCI PCI IP core is also available in Verilog HDL RTL.
For more information, visit Brace Design Solutions website at
http://www.bracedesignsolutions.com .


Kevin Brace


Kutaj Vamor wrote:

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--
Brace Design Solutions
Xilinx (TM) LogiCORE (TM) PCI compatible BDS XPCI PCI IP core available
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Re: Getting started VHDL, VHDL for Dummies, Easy Steps for FPGA experiments
Kutaj,

Lattice offers the free "ispLEVER-Starter" package for PCs at
www.latticesemi.com. It provides several modules to download Lattice
implementation tools including Precision RTL or Synplify logic
synthesis for Lattice FPGAs.

After you've studied a VHDL text book, I'd recommend the User Guides
from the respective logic synthesis vendors. These will provide
practical examples and style guidelines to write good RTL.

Cheers,
Troy Scott
Lattice Semiconductor


Re: Getting started VHDL, VHDL for Dummies, Easy Steps for FPGA experiments
Another option for a Spartan 3 board can be found at
www.dulseelectronics.com.  There are also a number of tutorials there for
beginning with Xilinx ISE Webpack.

Philip Nowe
"Kutaj Vamor" <kv> wrote in message
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