Electronics > FPGA

Absolute bare minimum FPGA thats breadboardable?

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brucehoult:

--- Quote from: asmi on January 12, 2022, 07:31:07 pm ---there are cases when you simply can't do certain things with those super low-end toy FPGAs. Since I do a lot of image and video processing, the dividing line for me is ability of FPGA to natively handle 1080p@60 video. None of those toy FPGA can do anything in this regard to any meaningful degree, as simply running all logic and hardIPs like BRAM and DSPs at 150 MHz is often a challenge for them.

--- End quote ---

Well, good for you. Not everyone is using FPGAs to process 1080p@60 video, or implement quad core OoO CPU soft cores with MMU and FPU and all the trimmings.

I don't know if this is easy to believe for you, but there are people out there who want to do things such as re-implement an Apple ][ or C64 using a real 65C02 (still available new), but they'd like to use a small FPGA for the control circuitry instead of a square foot of TTL chips. And it only has to run at 1 or 2 MHz.

256 LUTs might well be enough for that (having enough I/O pins might be more limiting, I don't know).

Why pay for more if you don't need more?

SiliconWizard:
Yep, and even implementing a C64 on FPGA is way, way beyond what a beginner would need to learn an HDL and using FPGAs. So...
And I personally do not agree with starting with the biggest FPGA you can afford. Starting with small and simple parts and tools is IMHO almost always better for learning purposes, and avoids the temptation of working on projects that are way too complex for your skills, which would usually lead to abandoning shortly after, once you have played a little with ready-made projects that you are unable to comprehend.

Now yeah, those small, "feather" form factor boards tend to be expensive for what they are, but that's marketing here. And they're not all created equal. If you want something simple, with few IOs (as those boards would offer), you can consider the UPduino 3.0, for instance. I think it's about $25, and the iCE40 UP5K is large enough (5K LUTs, 128 KB RAM) to learn, and even implement useful stuff with. Lattice Radiant is easy to use and reasonably "lightweight".

dorkshoei:

--- Quote from: SiliconWizard on January 12, 2022, 11:31:16 pm ---Yep, and even implementing a C64 on FPGA is way, way beyond what a beginner would need to learn an HDL and using FPGAs. So...
And I personally do not agree with starting with the biggest FPGA you can afford. Starting with small and simple parts and tools is IMHO almost always better for learning purposes, and avoids the temptation of working on projects that are way too complex for your skills, which would usually lead to abandoning shortly after, once you have played a little with ready-made projects that you are unable to comprehend.

--- End quote ---
It also minimizes the financial cost of the "buy and never get around to using" syndrome :D I have piles of "that looks cool; it's only $50" eval boards I've bought with the best of intentions to do something with and there they sit gathering dust.    Shame on me of course.

RoGeorge:

--- Quote from: cvriv on January 11, 2022, 07:07:35 pm ---I want to get into FPGAs but I dont want a kit with all the bells and whistles. I want the absolute bare minimum so I can do it all myself and learn.

--- End quote ---

See if you like something like this:
https://www.knjn.com/ShopBoards_RS232_Parallel.html

knjn is the shop of the fpga4fun website, a website I found very useful when I first stepped into the FPGA world:  https://www.fpga4fun.com/FPGAinfo1.html

nctnico:

--- Quote from: brucehoult on January 12, 2022, 10:33:13 pm ---
--- Quote from: asmi on January 12, 2022, 07:31:07 pm ---there are cases when you simply can't do certain things with those super low-end toy FPGAs. Since I do a lot of image and video processing, the dividing line for me is ability of FPGA to natively handle 1080p@60 video. None of those toy FPGA can do anything in this regard to any meaningful degree, as simply running all logic and hardIPs like BRAM and DSPs at 150 MHz is often a challenge for them.

--- End quote ---

Well, good for you. Not everyone is using FPGAs to process 1080p@60 video, or implement quad core OoO CPU soft cores with MMU and FPU and all the trimmings.

I don't know if this is easy to believe for you, but there are people out there who want to do things such as re-implement an Apple ][ or C64 using a real 65C02 (still available new), but they'd like to use a small FPGA for the control circuitry instead of a square foot of TTL chips. And it only has to run at 1 or 2 MHz.

256 LUTs might well be enough for that (having enough I/O pins might be more limiting, I don't know).

Why pay for more if you don't need more?

--- End quote ---
Not just that but a typical larger FPGA has loads of documentation; it is not very easy to start with. With a small FPGA (say up to a couple to thousand LUTs) it is still possible to graps what is going on. A CPLD (like the Xilinx XC9500xl series) might even be a better place to get started with programmable logic. Besides being relatively simple the advantage of a CPLD is that the internal delays have much less variation because the building blocks and routing are more rigid. You don't have to worry about setting timing constraints.

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