www.allpcb.com

Author Topic: Altera configuration Flash - crazy prices - alternatives?  (Read 734 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline AndyC_772

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 2790
  • Country: gb
  • Will design for cookies
Altera configuration Flash - crazy prices - alternatives?
« on: April 21, 2017, 06:08:48 PM »
Hi all,

Has anyone looked at the price of Altera's configuration Flash devices lately?

The EPCS4 - described in their own data sheet as a 'low cost' configuration option - has become stupidly, ridiculously, painfully expensive lately:

US$14.95 @ Arrow and Digi-key
£13.20 @ RS
£24.96 @ Farnell  :wtf:  :-DD  :palm:

Sod that, I can buy a complete microcontroller with more than 4Mbits of internal flash for that much. What gives? Price gouging by Intel? A conscious decision to push designers toward Xilinx?

Some years ago I recall designing in a cheap commodity flash device instead, which worked perfectly, but IIRC it went EOL and I can't remember if there was ever a drop-in replacement.

Does anyone have a favourite cheap way to configure these FPGAs?

[Edit]: It's actually cheaper to buy one of these:

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/ALTERA-FPGA-CycloneII-EP2C5T144-Learning-Board1pc-Mini-System-Development-Board-/272274835998?hash=item3f64d84a1e:g:yPgAAOSwnbZYFvic

...and desolder the EPCS4 than it is to buy a new one now  |O
« Last Edit: April 21, 2017, 06:11:00 PM by AndyC_772 »
 

Offline blueskull

  • Supporter
  • ****
  • Posts: 6138
  • Country: cn
  • Final year EE PhD
Re: Altera configuration Flash - crazy prices - alternatives?
« Reply #1 on: April 21, 2017, 06:19:18 PM »
I recall they can be replaced with just normal SPI flash? Correct me if I am wrong.

Here is an app note elaborating the process: http://www.newark.com/pdfs/techarticles/spansion/Configuring_Altera_FPGAs_via_SPI_Flash_AN_01_e.pdf
SIGSEGV is inevitable if you try to talk more than you know.
 

Offline bktemp

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 1504
  • Country: de
Re: Altera configuration Flash - crazy prices - alternatives?
« Reply #2 on: April 21, 2017, 06:20:30 PM »
Most modern FPGAs support SPI flashs, but older ones don't.
I have also used SPI flash with older FPGAs: A small, cheap microcontroller sends the read command to the SPI flash, then switches the control over to the FPGA. Since the flash is now in read mode, it shifts out the data at every clock cycle like a configuration flash does.
This works both in master and slave mode (FPGA generates bitclock or microcontroller generates clock).
 

Offline AndyC_772

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 2790
  • Country: gb
  • Will design for cookies
Re: Altera configuration Flash - crazy prices - alternatives?
« Reply #3 on: April 21, 2017, 09:34:29 PM »
I recall they can be replaced with just normal SPI flash? Correct me if I am wrong.

Here is an app note elaborating the process: http://www.newark.com/pdfs/techarticles/spansion/Configuring_Altera_FPGAs_via_SPI_Flash_AN_01_e.pdf

Thanks, I'm fairly sure it was a Spansion flash I used before.

That app note is quite old now, though, and the specific devices they mention are now EOL. The only single-SPI Flash now available from Spansion (now Cypress) is S25FL128P0XMFIxxx, which is 128 Mbit and about £3. Much more sane!
 

Online FrankBuss

  • Supporter
  • ****
  • Posts: 1612
  • Country: de
    • Frank Buss
Re: Altera configuration Flash - crazy prices - alternatives?
« Reply #4 on: April 21, 2017, 09:59:00 PM »
Winbond makes cheap SPI flash as well:

https://www.digikey.de/short/3n77b2

I've seen such a chip on a cheap dev board from China with a Cyclone IV.

But if you have a microcontroller on board, you can always program it from there at boot (using passive mode instead of active mode for Altera parts). This makes firmware updates easier as well. I've done this for an embedded Linux system with an ARM microcontroller and a Cyclone FPGA.
quadro copter flying, electronics, retro computing and other geeky things: http://www.youtube.com/user/frankbuss/
 

Offline jesuscf

  • Regular Contributor
  • *
  • Posts: 103
  • Country: ca
Re: Altera configuration Flash - crazy prices - alternatives?
« Reply #5 on: April 22, 2017, 12:54:09 AM »
My understanding is that ST’s M25P10-A, M25P40, M25P16 and M25P64 can replace Altera's EPCS1, EPCS4, EPCS16 and EPCS64. A few years back I replaced an EPCS4 in a Terasic/Altera DE1 board (Cyclone II) with a M25P40.  Quartus II/USB Blaster programmed it without problems.  The DE0-CV (Cyclone V) uses a Spansion FL064P.  The DE1-SoC (also a Cyclone V)  uses the Spansion FL128SA.  The M25P40 has been discontinued, but the W25Q40 looks very similar...
Homer: Kids, there's three ways to do things; the right way, the wrong way and the Max Power way!
Bart: Isn't that the wrong way?
Homer: Yeah, but faster!
 

Offline Scrts

  • Frequent Contributor
  • **
  • Posts: 464
  • Country: lt
Re: Altera configuration Flash - crazy prices - alternatives?
« Reply #6 on: April 22, 2017, 12:57:27 AM »
Yep, we've used Winbond and Spansion without issues.
 

Offline AndyC_772

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 2790
  • Country: gb
  • Will design for cookies
Re: Altera configuration Flash - crazy prices - alternatives?
« Reply #7 on: April 22, 2017, 01:56:46 AM »
Interesting, thanks.

ST haven't advertised Flash memory for some time. (Didn't they sell off that whole product line to someone?)

The low density Spansion parts are EOL too. The smallest they now advertise is 128 Mbit. (I wonder whether there's a clue here; maybe Spansion made the EPCS range for Altera, and they're now charging a ridiculous premium to make the part to special order?)

Winbond looks like the one to go with. W25X40CL (4 Mbit) is about US$0.40, just as it should be.

Normally these days I do put the bit stream into the microcontroller, and have it program the FPGA in PS mode as part of the boot process - but for prototyping if nothing else, it's nice to be able to develop for the FPGA independently of the MCU.
 

Offline free_electron

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 6602
  • Country: us
    • SiliconValleyGarage
Re: Altera configuration Flash - crazy prices - alternatives?
« Reply #8 on: April 22, 2017, 02:18:02 AM »
altera never made the proms. they were always fabbed at ST . ( spun off into numonix and borged by micron i believe )
25m10 and family. someone gave the info in this topic.
Professional Electron Wrangler.
Any comments, or points of view expressed, are my own and not endorsed , induced or compensated by my employer(s).
 

Offline marshallh

  • Supporter
  • ****
  • Posts: 1359
  • Country: us
    • retroactive
Re: Altera configuration Flash - crazy prices - alternatives?
« Reply #9 on: April 25, 2017, 12:28:01 PM »
I used the M25P40 with great success until recently when it was EOLd.

Now I use the W25X40 which works great as a EPCS4.

If you want more space, M25P80 used to work, but the winbond quad 80 does not return the right silicon ID. It will still work fine with ASMI though. I haven't tried any 16mbit yet.
Verilog tips
BGA soldering intro

11:37 <@ktemkin> c4757p: marshall has transcended communications media
11:37 <@ktemkin> He speaks protocols directly.
 
The following users thanked this post: invzim

Offline Scrts

  • Frequent Contributor
  • **
  • Posts: 464
  • Country: lt
Re: Altera configuration Flash - crazy prices - alternatives?
« Reply #10 on: April 25, 2017, 10:22:35 PM »
I used the M25P40 with great success until recently when it was EOLd.

Now I use the W25X40 which works great as a EPCS4.

If you want more space, M25P80 used to work, but the winbond quad 80 does not return the right silicon ID. It will still work fine with ASMI though. I haven't tried any 16mbit yet.

There were some issues with Spansion 128Mbit flash, but I've found an app note on Altera website of what checkboxes to tick to make it work in Quartus Programmer. Might be the same for M25P80.
 

Online BrianHG

  • Frequent Contributor
  • **
  • Posts: 703
  • Country: ca
Re: Altera configuration Flash - crazy prices - alternatives?
« Reply #11 on: April 26, 2017, 07:53:06 PM »
My understanding is that ST’s M25P10-A, M25P40, M25P16 and M25P64 can replace Altera's EPCS1, EPCS4, EPCS16 and EPCS64. A few years back I replaced an EPCS4 in a Terasic/Altera DE1 board (Cyclone II) with a M25P40.  Quartus II/USB Blaster programmed it without problems.  The DE0-CV (Cyclone V) uses a Spansion FL064P.  The DE1-SoC (also a Cyclone V)  uses the Spansion FL128SA.  The M25P40 has been discontinued, but the W25Q40 looks very similar...
My video scalers used ST's as bootproms with a Cyclone III EP3C55, program fine with both altera's USB Blaster and third party clones + I also successfully integrated self re-programming of the boot-proms + used the spare space on the proms for software apps, with 1 caveat, when designing a self-modifying firmware for the boot-prom, make sure you have a power supply fault detector feeding the nConfig/Global reset.  Without this, sometimes during loss of power, if you have large caps slowly discharging the rails of the FPGA, if your code accidentally begins a write cycle due to corrupt functionality during the power drop, you may corrupt the data on your boot-prom. 
That bug took me over a month to discover why my boot-prom sometimes corrupted after less than 1% of power down/power up cycles.    |O :scared: It drove me mad. :scared:  |O
Quartus also gave me a little headache configuring the boot-prom lines as IOs for my SPI interface, but I managed to get it to work.
« Last Edit: April 26, 2017, 08:06:14 PM by BrianHG »
__________
BrianHG.
 

Offline Scrts

  • Frequent Contributor
  • **
  • Posts: 464
  • Country: lt
Re: Altera configuration Flash - crazy prices - alternatives?
« Reply #12 on: April 27, 2017, 02:05:49 AM »
I always used a small microcontroller to program the FPGA.
 


Share me

Digg  Facebook  SlashDot  Delicious  Technorati  Twitter  Google  Yahoo
Smf