No doubt this subject has been discussed on numerous occasions:
However it seems that it has been a while since the subject has been visited, and since it has been a while, I'm wondering if opinions have changed.
I went to a Xilinx sponsored seminar and was impressed by the capabilities of the tools, product and the knowledge of the local FAE's. I've since purchased a Spartan 3E Starter Kit to investigate the feasibility of using Soft processors to consolidate 4 or so processor boards in one of our products. (couldn't find an Altera Dev kit - not saying that one doesn't exist, just could find one - with similar features [Ethernet/RS232] in the same price range)
However, I would also like to not exclude Altera/NIOS II from consideration based on the fact that I went to a Xilinx seminar and found a cheap & cool Development kit!
My main concern isn't the architecture of either core. More important to me are the following factors:1) Good integration of soft processor with IDE/Tools - intuitive tools 2) Ability to guarantee supply of pin/function compatible parts for long term. 3) Abundance of IP bundled with tools (or open source) [eg. I2C, SPI, UART, Eth MACS, USB MACS, etc] 4) Cheaper IDE/Tools (I understand Quartus & ISE webpacks are free, but neither EDK or Nios II Embedded Design Suite are) 5) Ability to upgrade (Pin/Function compatible) parts with higher/lower density parts. (I know for example Spartan 3's are interchangeable within each family; Could someone please confirm if Altera's FPGAs have this ability) 6) Availability of RTOS/eOS ports to soft processor 7) Abundance of tutorials/how-to's/examples 8) Good community support
My take from what I've read so far is that both Xilinx and Altera are good. Some have said that Quartus is a a little slicker and easier to use than ISE - if you've had the opportunity to play with both recently, do you still think that is true?
Any insight into the Altera(Nios) vs Xilinx(Microblaze) comparison would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks very much for your opinions and insight. PretzelX.