It will be the first FPGA for me. What I want to do is not complex, I have done similar controllers (more complex really)numerous times using logic parts, PLD, CPLD-s etc. I need to put together a display controller, to just do framebuffer memory -> display interface. Framebuffer memory will be some sort of DDRAM (DDR-which depending on the FPGA type), I'll be happy with a 1920x1080 framebuffer, 32 bits per pixel (likely just 24 will be used initially). The framebuffer will be updated via PCIe by the processor so the FPGA has to be large enough to allow me to do say 2k words fifos for access (2 of them). How the output will go is unclear yet; probably HDMI (which adds some complexity of course but looks doable). The LVDS cable drivers are another unknown - is it a good idea (if possible at all) to have them on-chip (chip being the fpga)? Sounds a bit risky but this will not be a consumer product, not initially at least, so it does not have to be the most abuse proof unit in the galaxy (but I don't want it to be too easy to be killed either... I am just looking for people's experience in the area). Which way should I go? The tools must be free, I guess this narrows the choice, we are not a large company. I will have to do plenty of iterations until I have the thing work obviously so I want the processor to be able to initialize the FPGA logic from a file (it has a disk, ethernet, tcp/ip etc.).
I guess I would prefer lower power, too - if I have multiple choices of similar devices. From what I saw there are FPGA-s which come with some hardwired DDRAM interface and PCIe, I'd go for one of these (doing DDRAM myself sounds like a waste of effort unless it proves necessary, having to do PCIe myself would probably make me look at other options).
====================================================== Dimiter Popoff, TGI======================================================