Howdy, I'm looking at Xilinx FPGA boards in the $300 range. In a grad school course I worked with a Memec Virtex II-Pro board (V2P4 single PPC core) using EDK. I'd like to continue developing my skills, broaden to either or both HDL languages, Linux or other OS, and DSP implementations/applications.
Additional vague requirements:
-I'd *like* to have access to accessory boards to make development simpler.
-I'd *like* to have a decent variety of peripherals (serial, ethernet, video, compact flash if possible) on board.
-I'd *love* to have app notes and reference designs ready to run and dissect.
What I want is an Virtex 4 FX based board. Like the ML 403, but that starts at $500 with no cable or development tools and it has a smaller FX12 chip on it. Avnet and Nu Horizon/Digilent also have a board at the $300-350 price point but the boards are similarly limited and the Digilent board doesn't seem to have a library of sample projects or app notes.
If I check my ego, I would probably do very well with the Digilent XUP V2P board. Lot's of documentation out there, sample projects, good peripherals, accessory boards, larger FPGA (XC2VP30), good peripherals, etc, etc...
BUT (and you know there's always a but) there is NO support from WebPack. Should this be a deal killer if I can't afford ISE or don't want to be limited to a 30-day license? I guess it's meant to be used in a university lab where all the tools are free to the school but I don't want to be limited by my access to a lab.
How is one expected to use the board with no WebPack?
Finally, would EDK only be available to me via an evaluation?
What's the lone experimenter to do?