Hello, I am looking for an ultra-cheap way to program Xilinx CPLDs and FPGAs. On Ebay they sell Altera USB Blaster JTAG programmers that ship from China and are fake copies I assume, they cost less than $7 inc shipping. If I download and install Altera Quartus II software can I use that to JTAG program my device file compiled in Xilinx ISE? Thanks for any help.
Xilinx dropped support for the Parallel cable 3 in recent versions of Impact. It still supports Parallel cable 4. That being said, it's getting harder to find a PC with a parallel port, and the Xilinx software doesn't like USB to parallel adapters, so at a minimum you'd need either a motherboard with the parallel port or a PCI add-in card with a legacy-compliant parallel port.
Forget the Altera cable, because Xilinx software doesn't work with anything they don't make or authorize. A lot of small cheap FPGA demo boards use an FTDI chip that is compatible with Digilent's Adept software. It might actually be cheaper if you can find such a board on eBay and just put wires on the JTAG lines to go to your own board (you'd have to cut the TDO connection from the on-board FPGA).
If you can still get the Chinese clones for $30 that might be the cheapest way without jumping through a lot of hoops.
Yes I know that Xilinx software would not work with an Altera programmer but my question is what if I used Altera's Quartus II software with the Altera programmer? I don't know much about JTAG but would it be possible for the Quartus II software to detect a Xilinx device in the JTAG chain and let me program it with a file of my choosing??
Quartus' JTAG programmer will program flash that's hung off an FPGA, but sometimes you need to load a 'programmer' bitfile into the FPGA first - since often flash doesn't have a direct JTAG port.
Programming FPGAs themselves is an Altera/Xilinx specific protocol - you don't just throw bitfiles at them. JAM/STAPL is an output format for non-Altera tools/programmers to program Altera FPGAs (eg some a host MCU can program its nextdoor PLD) - looks like Xilinx are similar:
This is better supported in the CPLD world than the FPGA world however.
However this is just about programming - you don't get to interact with the device afterwards without the vendor tools (that means things like logic analysers, debuggers, JTAG UARTs, etc require the vendor cable).
Pretty unlikely. i think the FPGAs have the memory divided into blocks, and each block has a CRC that has to match a live one that is calculated as it is loading for the load to be accepted. I guess the CRC is actually present in the .bit file, but there still needs to be a bunch of hand-shaking for it to all work.
The standardisation of the JTAG only goes as far as having several JTAG ports connected in a serial string, and getting a device type ID from each device. So, it would be EXTREMELY unlikely that Altera software would accept a Xilinx .bit file, or know how to set up the internal state of a Xilinx CPLD for programming/downloading.
Now, a Xilinx CPLD is a bit different, they look a lot more like a generic memory, and the programming file is in JEDEC format. So, I think programming them might be a bit more generic.
You may wanna try Lattice's software, provided you have hardware at hand you can use with it.
Of the many different programming schemes, they have what they call "JTAG full VME embedded" system. It consists of a small program that is supposed to be uploaded to a dedicated programmer and which takes as input VME files. VME files are a 1:1 binary format of SVF files. This program can also be used on a PC equipped with random peripherals. You will need to teach it how to use your hardware and you will probably need to severely optimize the program to account for very high latencies of a PC system, but it can be done. If your Xilinx software can produce SVF files, the Lattice embedded programmer is supposed to be able to program devices with it. It even has special provisions for Xilinx devices written into the source (the programmer is open source).
By generating SVF files I've programmed Altera FPGA's using Xilinx impact and cable (or the other way around, can't remember). I would expect it to work both ways as long as you can generate and play a SVF file.
Ok, I went ahead and ordered the fake chinese Altera USB Blaster programmer . It was $6.66 including shipping. When I get it in 3-4 weeks I will repor t on whether it works or not. I am trying to program an XC9572XL CPLD, usi ng Altera's Quartus II software...