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Author Topic: FPGA Started Kit Recommendation Request  (Read 2348 times)
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biomed12
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« on: October 18, 2017, 06:15:43 18:15 »

Hello dear all,

I started to digital design, so I am newbie on this. I am learning VHDL fundementals now. I decided to buy a new starter kit but Altera's or Xilinx's eval boards looks a bit expensive. I wanna take a beginner-intermediate level eval board, so I found this:

https://www.aliexpress.com/item/FPGA-development-board-ALTERA-IV-EP4CE-four-generations-NIOSII-send-send-remote-control-to-send-video/32534723807.html?spm=2114.search0104.3.33.3xb5OZ&ws_ab_test=searchweb0_0,searchweb201602_5_10152_10065_10151_10068_10344_10345_10342_10343_10340_10341_10540_10307_10060_10155_10154_10056_10055_10054_10539_10538_5370015_10537_10059_10536_10534_10533_100031_10099_10338_10103_10102_10052_10053_10107_10050_10142_10051_10325_10172_10084_10083_10080_10082_10081_10110_5590015_10111_10112_10113_10114_5610015_10312_10313_10314_10078_10079_10073,searchweb201603_24,ppcSwitch_5&btsid=4e262a4f-c620-4e50-85ca-e763bb9db5b9&algo_expid=29c43e05-63b6-4e6c-b4d8-6425dd6413de-4&algo_pvid=29c43e05-63b6-4e6c-b4d8-6425dd6413de

What are your opinions and recommendations?

Thanks.
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bogdantk
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« Reply #1 on: October 19, 2017, 12:16:46 00:16 »

Just look at this links http://www.bdti.com/pocket/pocket.htm  You might consider an integrating microcontroller and fpga http://www.embeddedarm.com/products/arm-sbc.php#ts-7300-fpga-series Depending on your budget and your target application you may choose the board, I think you need a budget around 100 USD for a real platform and around 50 USD for a learning only platform. I started my projects on https://www.xilinx.com/products/boards-and-kits/1-odbhjd.html ( Zynq 7Z007S) mainly for its wireless conectivity
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biomed12
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« Reply #2 on: October 19, 2017, 06:37:57 06:37 »

Just look at this links http://www.bdti.com/pocket/pocket.htm  You might consider an integrating microcontroller and fpga http://www.embeddedarm.com/products/arm-sbc.php#ts-7300-fpga-series Depending on your budget and your target application you may choose the board, I think you need a budget around 100 USD for a real platform and around 50 USD for a learning only platform. I started my projects on https://www.xilinx.com/products/boards-and-kits/1-odbhjd.html ( Zynq 7Z007S) mainly for its wireless conectivity

Right, what do you think about altera-de0 board and what about Xilinx dev environments such as IDE, support etc.?
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ChristosSDR
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« Reply #3 on: October 19, 2017, 12:59:38 12:59 »

Give a look at this entry level Spartan 6 board,

https://numato.com/product/mimas-spartan-6-fpga-development-board

IMHO its just fine for getting into the FPGA world with very low cost.

Got two of them and I'm very pleased.
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Sideshow Bob
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« Reply #4 on: October 21, 2017, 05:42:09 05:42 »

You could of course also get second hand board from say ebay in order to save some money
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Mega32
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« Reply #5 on: November 10, 2017, 02:55:59 14:55 »

What about the Upduino
http://gnarlygrey.atspace.cc/development-platform.html#upduino

http://www.latticesemi.com/en/Products/DevelopmentBoardsAndKits/GnarlyGreyUPDuinoBoard.aspx

You would need either a RaspberryPi , or a FT3232 - For programming the above board.

Mega32
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fpgaguy
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« Reply #6 on: November 10, 2017, 05:10:27 17:10 »

I would not recommend any specific board to for just beginning other than purely by cost of the board, and if you are tending towards a particular vendor.

First off make some sort of decision about what sorts of interfaces you want on the FPGA - IE ... do  you want to talk to DDR3, or SD card, or USB or do you need serdes for HDMI or 1G/10G ethernet , or do you just want a few LED's and buttons and GPIO ? Once you know that it should narrow your choices and price down quite a bit.

You can do quite a lot of work on the vendors tools before actually picking a target or even having a physical target board.

If you have never used any fpga before perhaps something small is the best choice

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weetit
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« Reply #7 on: December 12, 2017, 12:04:32 12:04 »

If the you want to start learning VHDL or Verilog, the cheapest way is to use simulator first.  I will recommend you the online simulator.  Even now, I always test my code when ever I am in doubt. This web site is very useful.
https://www.edaplayground.com/

If you want to buy one FPGA kit and you are a student, you can use your student account buy the kit from digilent.  You can buy the update FPGA model under USD50.
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allegro
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« Reply #8 on: December 12, 2017, 04:15:56 16:15 »

I agree. Start with a simulator. It is not only the cheapest route, but also a wise route - in my opinion. I have done quite a few fpga designs, from small to large, and the simulator is my companion and friend. Spending time to really learn VHDL/SystemC etc and a simulator will save time in the end, and also a good workflow is established. Experiment and simulate the code before running the synthesis. The transition between simulation and synthesis can be interesting - what is simulated might not be synthesizable. It's part of the learning experience! Check the RTL schematic against your intended functionality. Treat warnings as errors until you are sure they can be waived. Point is that you learn a lot doing this:-)

I think the free version of Quartus has a stripped down version of Modelsim included (?) They used to. Maybe Xilinx tools has something similar.

Almost all my fpga designs start with no hardware, and sometimes no hardware at all. I have done fpga designs for customers, and worked with only a spec containing hardware schematics and required functionality. No hardware. Just sent the binary configuration file via email at certain milestones.

Happy coding. When the fpga bug bites you there is no turning back:-)

/Allegro
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weetit
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« Reply #9 on: December 13, 2017, 04:37:23 16:37 »

Xilinx has Vivado Webpack and ISE Webpack.  Vivado made for FPGA series 7 or newer.  And it comes with document navigator which is very handful.  I will recommend anybody to start with anything Xilinx or Altera, they probably similar.  But keep an eye open for new technology, since now most of modern FPGA already embedded ARM processors and it breaks many barriers that FPGA was not good at in the past. 

We can now easily run Ubuntu on FPGA processor, some of Altera sales told that Intel will soon embedded Atom CPU with next generation of Altera.  It is very difficult to predict what will happen but it will be big.
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Dgtslot
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« Reply #10 on: December 15, 2017, 07:24:51 07:24 »

hello all guys,
i suggest you a terasic demo board with CYCLONE IV fpga.

http://www.terasic.com.tw/cgi-bin/page/archive.pl?Language=English&CategoryNo=139&No=593

This is a very simple board and you can add a soft core processor NIOSII. This is a great union because you can use the NIOS II with C and you can make your custom logic in VHDL. I use it every day.
Good vhdl  Smiley
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weetit
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« Reply #11 on: December 15, 2017, 09:26:23 09:26 »

Hi Dgtslot and everybody, How fast is Nios II? I have the deca board from the seminar but I did not have chance to use often.  I like the idea of Max10 that it contain internal flash, do you ever try run Linux on the Nios, and is it possible to have graphics framebuffer?
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Dgtslot
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« Reply #12 on: December 17, 2017, 01:47:57 01:47 »

Hi all,
Nios II is a very fast 32bit processor but i never run linux on it. I think you can run s.o. like lnx, but you need a more powerful hardware CYCV for example. Max10 is limited in ram and logic block. Platform Designer in quartusII development tool have a lot of hardware acceleration IP for graphics take a look. Regards.
« Last Edit: December 17, 2017, 01:50:14 01:50 by Dgtslot » Logged
weetit
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« Reply #13 on: January 01, 2018, 09:26:42 09:26 »

Can we possibly run Linux and play video from the framebuffer with Nios?  I am now using Zynq.  I may switch if it can do the same.
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Carlo
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« Reply #14 on: January 05, 2018, 02:20:51 14:20 »

I recommend lattice MachXO3 or MachXO2 series.
It features good combination of price + code security.

Official Starter Kit board is available @ reasonable price.
http://www.latticesemi.com/en/Products/DevelopmentBoardsAndKits/MachXO3LFStarterKit.aspx

A very good Kick-start tutorial:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SmdEP_ZsBgM

Enjoy  Smiley
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Old_but_Alive
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« Reply #15 on: January 06, 2018, 12:54:04 00:54 »

@carlo,

just watched the video.

very very good, thank you
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weetit
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« Reply #16 on: January 08, 2018, 05:59:19 17:59 »

Lattice MachXO2 FPGA is LQFP, this will allow me to manually install the component!  It is so difficult now a day when most of the chip is BGA.
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HK-Drone
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« Reply #17 on: January 17, 2018, 08:48:32 20:48 »

Might want to try this company they have a lot of starter level boards:
https://store.digilentinc.com/fpga-programmable-logic/

I have one of these:
https://store.digilentinc.com/pynq-z1-python-productivity-for-zynq/
There is an image available that enables you to drive the PL using python which makes it very easy to start hacking away.
Accepts Arduino shields and had both PL(Programmable Logic) and PS(Processor system ARM)

Just recently I have acquired one of these:
https://www.crowdsupply.com/krtkl/snickerdoodle
Nice very compact board with a lot of capability for its size. Good amount of GPIO to work with.

Since these have both PL and PS they are easy to get started with quickly. Both you can get vouchers for SDSOC(https://www.xilinx.com/products/design-tools/software-zone/sdsoc.html) which is a very nice addition.

Hope that helps.
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hexadec
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« Reply #18 on: January 26, 2018, 05:51:37 05:51 »

I've just got into FPGA on a hobby level and to keep the old brain from going stale and after much deliberation and research I finally decided to go with the DE10-Nano from Terasic.
http://www.terasic.com.tw/cgi-bin/page/archive.pl?Language=English&No=1046

The board has good documentation, excellent support and is pretty affordable at $130.

Well worth a look for anyone starting out.
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