Help me

Who can give me(A fresh man) some advice about the FPGA learning,and how to become an expert in it.Please recommend some materials to me. Thanks!

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First, even though vendors and some professors may think you can do complex things easily with the modern tools without a whole lot of knowledge about the underlying hardware (a.k.a System Generator), Learning basic logic is ******VERY******* important. I got in an argument with a professor at the college here about these tools. It was stated that even though there is a lack in good engineers coming out of college, "We Scientists" don't need them. In 5 minutes, I can use Xilinx tools to "download" a complete mathematical system to a chip. This is true for the trivial examples that comer with the development tools, but for any real world system alot more work will needed.

So, if you fundamentally don't understand D-Latchs, Synchronous Design, etc, you will never become an expert. You may learn the tools well enough to connect functional blocks together, but you need a solid foundation in logic design, electronics (yes, transistors and all the basic theory) to have a good grasp.

Second, the way I like to learn is to think about something I want to make (i.e. some cool gadget), and then figure out the tools to implement my creation. You will learn more by fixing your own broken logic, badly soldered connections and bad technical documentation than you will trying to come up with the next theory on FSMs (not to say that isn't important). You will also gain some tools along the way to will make yourself useful to an employer some day.

Maybe a good way to start is to get one of those low cost CPLD boards from Digilent and blink some LED's. You can even get you advisor to get a university donation from Xilinx if the stuff is used in class. Don't worry about getting the lastest and greatest Virtex chip, use one of the small CPLDs to get started. Try to some LEDs to blink, see if you can do some things with the switches on the PCB. Fundamentally, if you can't make LEDs blink, it doesn't make sense to try anything else.

Learning an HDL (I like verilog) will be very useful. But for now you can use the schematic entry tools that come with the Xilinx (or Altera, etc.) to make you first simple design.

Hope this helps......


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Eli Hughes

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