Newby Getting started with FPGA

I am new to the FPGA and I want to learn by small experiments.
Can some FPGA experts tell me what is the easiest and least expensive way of
getting started ?
What eventually I want to implement (what I'm dreaming) are;
* Communicate with four RS232 devices (115200baud) simultaneously
*
Control 16 parallel I/O lines
* Encode/decode multi channel Radio Control signals
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* Control high speed (5MHz sampling rate, 12-16bit resolution) Analog to
Digital converter to digitise high frequecy signals and being able to
transfer the digitised data to a PC via either USB3 and/or Firewire to
perform FFT
* Decode and count quadrature encoder signals
*
Multi channel PID servo controller with PWM and/or analog outputs
Reply to
<Huianx>
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At least the far aims are not too small. First you should decide whether you also wanted to have a CPU inside the FPGA. To start with I suggest to have one outside. That makes it much easier in terms of getting used to a new development environment and debugging the software. The usual way to get started is to get an evaluation kit of an FPGA from a standard manufacturer. They usually have a free development software. In case the CPU inside the FPGA should also be covered, then the Stratix or Cyclone NIOS kit from Altera comes to my mind. This goes for 495 $ or so with a one year license of the software. Other manufacturers probably have a similar offer.
Rene
--
Ing.Buero R.Tschaggelar - http://www.ibrtses.com
& commercial newsgroups - http://www.talkto.net
Reply to
Rene Tschaggelar
What about Altium's Nexar
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?
Reply to
<Yim>
Take a look here
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Good luck! Jean
Reply to
Jean Nicolle
You should start with an evaluation board for one of the low-cost FPGA lines. Xilinx offers the Spartan-3 family, with evaluation boards from Xilinx or the distributors. Many of them are below $ 150. For your internal microprocessor I recommend the Xilinx PicoBlaze. It is free (!), and it is simple, and allows you to do the control jobs you mentioned. No opeating system, no C compiler, but direct access to the hardware. It uses about 200 LUTs/flip-flops plus a BlockRAM. Real tiny, and real popular. Google it... Peter Alfke, Xilinx Applications
Reply to
Peter Alfke
Nexar's price tag is not really targetted to beginners, I guess.
Rene
--
Ing.Buero R.Tschaggelar - http://www.ibrtses.com
& commercial newsgroups - http://www.talkto.net
Reply to
Rene Tschaggelar
I was in "Embedded World 2005" in Nürnberg last week and the Nexar representative told me that they sell some eval board for 99? only (with the choice between Xilinx or Altera). These boards looked really convenient to get in touch with FPGA.
Bye
"Rene Tschaggelar" schrieb im Newsbeitrag news:42289d44$0$3402$ snipped-for-privacy@news.sunrise.ch...
Reply to
Mouarf
Very interesting.
Rene
Reply to
Rene Tschaggelar
The eval board with a FPGA. Plus the Nanoboard to plug it in for 995Euro plus the Software for 7995Euro.
Rene
Mouarf wrote:
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Reply to
Rene Tschaggelar
Eval board work fine wich ISE.
usmgn
"Rene Tschaggelar" a écrit dans le message de news: 4228a10f$0$3402$ snipped-for-privacy@news.sunrise.ch... The eval board with a FPGA. Plus the Nanoboard to plug it in for 995Euro plus the Software for 7995Euro.
Rene
Mouarf wrote:
Reply to
usmgn
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Very competitive price. Looks the cheapest, and is the most versatile because it doesn't give you features you might not want.
Individual projects tend to have their own requirements, so you build those bits yourself.
Some things tend to crop up often, and you can buy those ready-made as required. (RAM, IDE, CF, KBD, MSE, DACs, VGA, buzzer etc).
Reply to
Kryten
In term of choosing which FPGA board to buy, the best way to do is to write the code for your project FIRST, simulate, synthesize and place and route it. Verify everything works then buy the FPGA board LATER. I said this because by the time you verify that everything works in the simulation environment, you already know what features of the FPGA board you will need for your project. If you buy the FPGA board now, you may overspend your money on the FPGA that has all the bells and whistles you don't need, or underspend your money on the FPGA that doesn't have all the features you want.
Hendra
Reply to
Hendra
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xilinx S3 starter kit is a lot cheaper US$99 verus US$236 but Tony Burch does free fpga replacement if you blow your chip up.
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make the S3 starter kit for xilinx and offer add on modules Also offer the S3 board with up to a 1 mil gate S3 for an extra US$50 (add board to shopping cart and options come up)
also a S3e board on the way from Digilentinc / Xilinx
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quarter3 2005
Alex
Reply to
Alex Gibson
For those (like me) who has no experience in FPGA programming, can you suggest which SW tool(s) (free or low-cost) would be good to start with for vendor independent learning ?
Reply to
<KJ>
I agree with Hendra. Choose your simulator first. For vendor independent design, choose vhdl or verilog design entry. Brands A and X have low cost versions of modelsim for either HDL. Once you have written code and tested in using a simulation testbench (more code), you can port your design to any device on any fpga board. Avoid the wizards and core generators.
For vhdl you can try the free version of sonata at
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and the design and testbench example at
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Good luck.
-- Mike Treseler
Reply to
Mike Treseler
you
with for
Xilinx offers their free version of synthesis tool called Webpack which can be downloaded at
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. In the webpage, you can also download a third party simulator called ModelSim for free. The free software are more than enough for beginners. Webpack supports up to 1.5 Million gates, which is quite HUGE. ModelSim free version simulates at full speed up to 500 lines of code, after that it slows down but still works. If you want to spend a little bit of money you can buy Xilinx 6.3i Student Version from Prentice Hall vig.prenhall.com/catalog/academic/product/0,1144,0131858394,00.html
with the professional version called Xilinx ISE BaseX but at huge discount price. The only limitation is you can not use it for commercial purposes and you are not eligible for tech support. The software are very much vendor independent, as long as you don't use the vendor specific primitive library or the Core Generator. Just use standard Verilog or VHDL keywords. Altera also offers their free old software called MaxPlusII and newer one called Quartus. But the simulator that comes with MaxPlusII has severe limitation, it doesn't supports testbench at all. I won't recommend it for anyone. Perhaps the free version of Quartus doesn't have such limitaton, I don't know, you can try.
Hendra
Reply to
Hendra
Hmm, yes, that is a big difference.
What's the explanation?
Are Digilent selling them at cost price?
Tony seems a fair guy, I doubt he would overcharge.
That's reassuring to know.
Personally I like the physical format of the BurchEd boards.
If I were to make a project with LEDs and switches I would want to have them mounted where I want and in my choice of colours, not fixed on the FPGA board itself. The less pins the FPGA decides to use, the more freedom I have to use them.
Reply to
Kryten
have them
FPGA
I have
That's a very good point, Kryten! I am very dissapointed with the board layout of Digilent S3 starter kit. Its board layout should have been the same with their D2SB and D2FT board. D2SB and D2FT are bare bone FPGA boards. They offer an extension board that has LEDs, Switches and Buttons but since they can be plug in and plug out at will, no I/O pins have been hardwired to the extension board. On the other hand, the Digilent S3 starter kit has 32 I/O pins hardwired already to the onboard switches, LEDs and buttons. Those 32 I/O pins are not available for any other purposes.
Hendra
Reply to
Hendra
Yes, the whole point of buying an FPGA board is because you have your own purposes for those pins.
But there's always some pointy haired sales droid who wants more features.
I never thought I'd object to something having more stuff for less than half the price of a competing product, but I can't help suspecting some unconventional business ethics here. I'd expect the Digilent board to cost at least three times its price, given that it has more bits than the > 210 USD BurchEd board. from typical mark-ups (3x), I'd say the board was being sold at cost price. In which case, who is paying the production costs?
It is okay for Xilinx to give away software only they produce, but if they are paying Digilent to sell boards at cost then it is an underhand blow to the other manufacturers of Xilinx dev kits. Surely that would put them out of business eventually. Maybe Xilinx want to reduce the number of players to just their own favourite?
Reply to
Kryten
Nobody ever got fired for putting more flashing LEDs on aproduct....!
Reply to
Mike Harrison

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