Hello from Toronto, Canada. I have far more experience working with microcontrollers (32-bit ARM, and 8-bit AVR, PIC and 8051) than FPGAs. I am equally comfortable in C and assembly, but I tend to write in C for ease of maintainability. The systems I typically work with operate between 10 and 50 MHz to balance performance while minimizing power consumption. My target application would be computers for use in space (low-earth orbit) where the FPGA fabric could be used, for example, to add ECC on off-chip RAM and Flash memory. As such, I'm particularly interested in Microsemi's flash-based Fusion 2 product.
@Seaguard, it's possible I did not understand your original question. But $45 is not too bad compared to some alternatives. The vendor's eval board is usually good for getting started on a trial balloon. I like to get a couple of modules of the design to work and then decide on how to proceed -- and whether it's worth spending the bucks.
@Dave- Just do to the vendors web site and look for the tool download section. You can typically select for a few different options (30 day eval, no bit stream, etc) so you can pick the free evaluation that is best for your project.
Our next project will be work on image processing and we want to select a more powerful FPGA processor. NIOSII data bus seemslly is 100M a little bit lower. So if you can compare these FPGA processors will be very helpful to me. Thanks a lot.
@Sherlock- If NIOS does what you want no need to switch to ARM. Once you run past what NIOS does the dual ARM core devices will be there. may require some conversion if you are migrating an existing design...
@Bob- Knowing you need lots of cache is a good data point. Is it for the processor or for large data buffers? You might be able to use the FPGA as a data processing engine and avoid processor cache requirements.
physicist42- If you have some specific power control algorithms you need to implement (PFC, etc) you can check out the vendors lists of IP and reference designs. You will probably find some good starting points, but they may not have the more advanced functions yet. You might need to build on what they have. You could also check out the Lattice Power Manager devices. They are specifically targeted at power management.
? Slide 16 - As with your previous class, this one is pretty far ahead of my current design work. I'd say my main interest at this point is learning enough about FPGAs to implement a processor design of mine - one that I hope will one day be one of the ones embedded with a GA fabric.
For the purposes of this question, the one unique and possibly problematical thing about my application is that I'm going to want LOTS of silicon for cache memory.
Just posting my app: Sparc LEON3 Fault Tolerant Core for embedded intrumentation control and data processing... using SRAM, SDRAM, MRAM, EEPROM, I/O to other ASICs/FPGA's for specialized processing. Whew...
@phildani7- A simple application that communicates with a PC or laptop is a good starting point so you can begin to play with drivers and peripheral interfaces. The example designs usually include something like this..
@CharlesM, Thanks for posting the slide we are on. If I want to replay a portion of the lecture from archive, I look at your time stamp and to back to that section of the lecture without having to wade through other parts.
@phildani7- The peripherals that come with the MCU are all available 'out of the box'. If you build a peripheral in the FPGA many of those are free to. Some of them like Gb Enet and other high-end blocks might need to be purchased. You should check out their online IP libraries.
@MyanBlood- For SRAM devices you can program them as much as you want. Flash devices to have a limit to reprogramming but the number is so high (I don't know it off the top of my head) it isn't ever a real issue (unless it is a very unusual application). I'd be interested in knowing more about an application with very high reprogram requirements.
@rshankle- Many drivers now come for free and are included in example designs on eval boards. Some higher level protocol stuff may cost some $ (stacks for example) but today most drivers are free (since you need them with the MCU!).
?? Would drivers for RS232, Ethernet Interface and/or PCIe interfaces be usually free with the Developement board? (I'm thinking of Xilinx Development boards such as one for the Spartan 6.) I know IP tends to be a addon for a fee.
@78RPM- The FPGA fabric is the combination of logic blocks and interconnect that make programmable logic work. I think there is a good intro to programmable logic class on CEC from Max Maxfield. Try and find that as a good into.
I've just started using Spartan 3 FPGA with PIC32/Arduino/Raspberry Pi/IOIO etc. I'm interested in finding something that combined uContoller & FPGA at the chip level. Also, I don't want to have work with designing my own BGA board. I'd like to work with a modular board that had 0.1" headers. I'm looking for a board that has an FPGA/embedded controller already to interface to - that's below $200. Something lke the Smartfusion Dev kit Digikey's A2F-EVAL-KIT-2
@George- There are several different kits available from manufacturers. I'm not sure on current pricing so it is best to visit the web pages I list in the Reference slide to check them out. Some are very high priced with lots of features, so skip over those. Also- Distributors are good at stocking the least expensive boards so check out Digi-Key too!
My application is to create a device to light up an LED or power a buzzer to alert a homeowner they have a water supply leak. The water has a meter that communicates with the water company through a wireless connection, and also has a dial that can be read manually.
While currently have no designs and have never done on board micro with VHDL when I did hi power design we did hybrid designs with FPGA for rapid response to shorts and surges rather than relatively slow interrupt response time. Having said that, on my horrizon I am contemplating a solar system with lightning protection which needs a rapid response to a strike. Do you have any insights into fast interrupt times and FPGA times? I am looking to gain experience with this.
Question 2 I have more experience with assembly at the micro level but I have more experience with C, C+ in the application arena. I am becomming comfortable with either.
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