From good-old ISA bus cards to PCI bus

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I'm one of that "old" engineer with a bit of experience on ISA bus cards.
Over the years I've designed and manufactured various cards for the ISA bus.
But as the technology runs faster than I'm, my good-old cards become
obsolete.

I would like to ask what would be the simplest way of learning and
experimenting on PCI bus ?




Re: From good-old ISA bus cards to PCI bus

Hi,

I'm assuming you are interested in implementing your
PCI interfaces in an FPGA because you posted to this
newsgroup.

As for learning about PCI, you can buy the PCI System
Architecture book by Mindshare.  That's a good book,
especially if you don't have a copy of the spec itself.
If you can get a copy of the spec, that's an added
bonus.  Check out http://www.pcisig.com

Also, Xilinx offers PCI and PCI-X classes through the
Customer Education group.  If you are willing and able
to enroll, they are not free but I think a great value.

As for experimentation, you have a lot of options.  It
comes down to finding hardware you like and can afford.
For example, several Xilinx distributors sell low cost
(less than $500) PCI prototyping boards.  You can also
get one from http://www.fpga4fun.com for less than $300.
If you have easy access to manufacturing and assembly,
and want to build a batch of boards for a project, try
http://www.engr.sjsu.edu/crabill/projects/nxm/readme.htm

To use the hardware, you'll need the logic for a PCI
interface.  You can buy one from Xilinx, other vendors
have similar products.  You can write your own from the
spec.  I think there are some people on this newsgroup
that have written their own and sell it.  Also, there
is http://www.opencores.org which has a PCI interface.

Finally, you will need some kind of software tools to
write a device driver.  Perhaps someone else can give
some recommendations on this topic.

Good luck,
Eric

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Re: From good-old ISA bus cards to PCI bus
Thank you for your posting.
The board on www.fpga4fun.com looks VERY interesting BUT it is out of
stock..

...
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Re: From good-old ISA bus cards to PCI bus
<isa -->PCI> writes:
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Have a look at PCI-to-"simplebus"-bridges, like PLX90xx (www.plxtech.com). They
are very easy to use and quite flexible...

The PCB-layout on the PCI side is not that critical for experimenting,
Vero-Wire-wrapping from a PCI breadboard to a QFP-adaptor-PCB works absolutely
flawless. I don't know what generic drivers PLX has for Windows, for Linux you
don't need one (if you can live without busmaster DMA or IRQs).

Doing an PCI-interface on your own in an FPGA is possible, but for a start
(getting the driver stuff right) a ready-made chip is IMHO better.

--
         Georg Acher, snipped-for-privacy@in.tum.de
         http://wwwbode.in.tum.de/~acher
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Re: From good-old ISA bus cards to PCI bus
From another "old" engineer who had to update some ISA cards, you might want
to consider a USB interface. If your quantities are small (as mine are)
there are some nice USB products that will do wonders for your "time to
market". Especially from a software/firmware standpoint. The software
requirements for PCI compared to ISA is like comparing a bicycle to a
Porsche.

--
Greg
snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com.invalid
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Re: From good-old ISA bus cards to PCI bus
I also tought about the USB,  but its packet structure (1ms) and not being
able to use IRQ (and DMA)
make the USB less appealing.



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Re: From good-old ISA bus cards to PCI bus
"PCI>" <isa --> wrote in message
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bus.


As a 'not quite so old, but getting there' engineer I have done a
couple of ISA based designs but realised that the ability to
implement a PCI interface is becoming essential.

I designed my 'EASY PCI' core to be as easy to integrate as possible.
The PCI side of things is taken care of, the local bus side gives
you an address bus, data bus in and out, 4 * CS lines and a
Wr and Rd line.

It's target only, a master version has been on the cards for a year
but I haven't had the time to design/test it yet. The target will
give 10MBytes/second write performance, about 8MBytes/second read.
(The PCI bus allows burst transfers, but all the data I have found says
that PC PCI bridge chips don't implement burst reads from target
devices. If you want to get near to the theoretical PCI
transfer bandwidth with a PC you have to use a device which can
act as a bus master then transfer the data in bursts).

The core's targeted at an Altera Cyclone, but is written with no
architecture specific features implemented so could easily be
re-targeted at Xilinx devices.

It builds smaller than the Altera target only core so should be a
good fit with the new MaxII development boards, I'll probably
produce a cut-down version for that.

I have also designed a proto-board to accompany the core, but
again haven't had the time to get this produced in quantity.

There's a core/board description on my web site if you want a
look.

I haven't finalised costs for the core, but it's _v_cheap_
compared to the Altera equivalent and the board space/design
risk of a specific PCI interface IC.

Good luck with the transition!


Nial Stewart

------------------------------------------------
Nial Stewart Developments Ltd
FPGA and High Speed Digital Design
Cyclone Based 'Easy PCI' proto board
www.nialstewartdevelopments.co.uk






Re: From good-old ISA bus cards to PCI bus
<....>
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That's not entirely true. PCI bridges can of course do burst reads. They do
it only if requested by the CPU and that depends on the MMU-attributes of the
memory "behind" the PCI device. If the memory space is marked as prefetchable or
cacheable, a burst read is issued to fill a cache line even for a single read.  

--
         Georg Acher, snipped-for-privacy@in.tum.de
         http://wwwbode.in.tum.de/~acher
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