Author Topic: ALTERA Nios II Embedded Evaluation Kit - who has tried it?  (Read 6220 times)

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Offline TNb

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ALTERA Nios II Embedded Evaluation Kit - who has tried it?
« on: October 07, 2013, 08:56:18 am »
Hello!
I'm studying in university now and we have couple of Nios II Embedded Evaluation Kit from ALTERA. I was thinking to do some projects with it using FPGA(not just processor programming), but I don't know if it is suitable for me. I mean - the kit itself is not so simple circuit and my VHDL and FPGA knowledge are pretty basic.
So, I just wondering if anyone was doing something with it - is this kit architecture too advanced for newbie project?
I just afraid to be lost in it completely.  :(
Thanks!
 

Offline Buga

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Re: ALTERA Nios II Embedded Evaluation Kit - who has tried it?
« Reply #1 on: October 07, 2013, 07:44:16 pm »
That kit has a huge amount of power in it, and a lot of price in it too.

If you want something similar to what your using in class, but just for the FPGA, I'd recommend something like these:
Altera DE0
Altera DE1
Altera DE2

These have lots of FPGA power available, and come with some peripherals that you can play with and practice your coding with.

The Nios II kit is quite expensive, and extremely powerful. Unless you're intending on practicing making entire soft-core processors and the like, you almost certainly wont use or need that power. Especially for the price.

Their are even cheaper solutions available than the DE boards, but they generally are more barebones, with no extra peripherals to play with, which is where I think a lot of the fun of learning to code FPGAs comes from.
 

Offline Valueduser

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Re: ALTERA Nios II Embedded Evaluation Kit - who has tried it?
« Reply #2 on: October 07, 2013, 08:17:02 pm »
I would definitely recommend the DE-2 board.  I've been using it for the past year for courses in digital systems and will be continuing to use it for a yearlong sequence in embedded systems using the nios softcore processor.  What I really like though is that through the altera university program, you can get free lab materials specific to your board (DE-1 or DE-2) and your HDL of choice (VHDL or Verilog). Also if you google de-2 labs, you can find a lot of materials through university websites. 
 

Offline belasajgo

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Re: ALTERA Nios II Embedded Evaluation Kit - who has tried it?
« Reply #3 on: October 07, 2013, 09:27:12 pm »
I would also recommend the DE1 board or the DE2 board, I think that with the DE0 board you will be more limited... But you should know what you plan to do with it in the future. If you plan to do more complex projects with it, then the DE2 board would be the best option for you. If you plan to do advanced but not very complex projects, then the DE1 board will suit your needs. The DE0 board is also a good board for the beginning, but the DE1 and DE2 boards have more peripherals you can use...

I started with a DE1 board from the beginning, also with just basic FPGA and HDL knowledge, and I learned almost everything from the tutorials and lab materials from Altera (like Valueduser mentioned). So I also think that the Altera DE-boards are a good choice for you.
 

Offline TNb

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Re: ALTERA Nios II Embedded Evaluation Kit - who has tried it?
« Reply #4 on: October 08, 2013, 08:43:54 pm »
Thanks a lot for replies!
I will ask university if they have DE1 or DE2. The problem is that I know that we have 2 Nios II kits, I saw them(Altera sells this kits for half-price for university), but I haven't seen DE1 or DE2, though maybe they are lying somewhere...
So, ok, I'll try to find it out, many thanks again :)
 

Offline Valueduser

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Re: ALTERA Nios II Embedded Evaluation Kit - who has tried it?
« Reply #5 on: November 27, 2013, 01:29:54 pm »
Terasic just released a new kit for $179 with a cyclone V:  http://www.terasic.com.tw/cgi-bin/page/archive.pl?Language=English&CategoryNo=165&No=830

It seems like a lot of kit for the price.  I'll probably be grabbing one soon to start some HD-SDI video experiments.

 

Offline motocoder

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Re: ALTERA Nios II Embedded Evaluation Kit - who has tried it?
« Reply #6 on: November 27, 2013, 05:43:03 pm »
I think if you end up buying something, that new kit would be the way to go. I have the DE1 and the DE0-Nano. The DE1 is great, but Altera has dropped support for the FPGA on it (Cyclone II) from the latest version of their tools. It's not a big deal to install the older version of the tools, but since the price is the same, might as well go for the newer board. You get a more powerful FPGA as well.

The DE0-Nano is a standalone board (no peripherals) which uses a newer FPGA (Cyclone V) and is good for small prototyping or one-off projects. It is not as good an option for learning, because it does not have any onboard peripherals.

Note that there are multiple versions of the DE2 (DE2-70, DE2-115), with different FPGAs on them. THey are both significantly more expensive than the DE1, and IMHO not worth the extra money unless your university course requires them.

Either way, make sure you grab the latest version of the labs and tutorials directly from the Altera site. The version that will be on the CD ROM on these older boards (DE1, DE2) is VERY old. And in fact, the labs in the old DE1 CD are actually DE2 labs, and not 100% relevant to the DE1. If you grab the latest from the Altera site, you won't have that issue.

The Altera university program site is: http://university.altera.com

 

Offline free_electron

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Re: ALTERA Nios II Embedded Evaluation Kit - who has tried it?
« Reply #7 on: November 28, 2013, 05:12:10 am »
yes. i've even followed ther 3 day course costong 2k$ ...
useless.
unless you shell out money for the tools the nios will stop working after 1hour of runtime. so you cant really make anything with it.
it is a resource hog, underpowered and an alien core.

far better of taking a standard cpu with real cpu development tools and bonding that to an fpga.
Professional Electron Wrangler.
Any comments, or points of view expressed, are my own and not endorsed , induced or compensated by my employer(s).
 

Offline Zad

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Re: ALTERA Nios II Embedded Evaluation Kit - who has tried it?
« Reply #8 on: November 28, 2013, 05:37:02 am »
I was given one by Element-14 a few years ago when they first started doing road tests. I was looking at getting into FPGAs more seriously, and it seemed ideal. A fairly meaty FPGA with a nice bundle of software, LCD panel and so on.

Even in general terms, FPGA software is probably the most user-hostile stuff you could ever wish to meet. The software supplied in this bundle was no exception to that, and took several hours to install. Only to discover that it didn't work. The solution was to roll it all back and download the latest versions. From what I remember, all the software is in some way limited. Either a time-trial, functionality, or in having to run it permanently tethered to the PC. At the time they were really pushing "soft core" processors and I could see why they never really took off. The whole process was like pushing custard uphill with a fork. Even some of the demos refused to work.

To echo the sentiments of other posters, if you can, get something simpler, with less overhead. The NEEK has so much between you and the hardware that it is difficult to get a feel for what it is doing. There is no "blinking LED" tutorial.

For what it is worth, I did a few simple videos. EEVBlog they aren't; no audio and only short clips of video.








Offline monpjc

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Re: ALTERA Nios II Embedded Evaluation Kit - who has tried it?
« Reply #9 on: December 01, 2013, 07:31:19 pm »
I have Reviewed the NEEK back in 2010'ish, I personally found it more of a top end tool. Something someone very into SoC. I do a bit of VHDL but found this a lot more than just a FPGA. Dons get me wrong it a very nice kit but feel you need to know what your are doing before going after this. I end up selling mine to a FPGA Guru :o)
 

Offline marshallh

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Re: ALTERA Nios II Embedded Evaluation Kit - who has tried it?
« Reply #10 on: December 01, 2013, 07:50:26 pm »
Nios is great when:
1. You have a tools budget
2. Can afford a bigger fpga to contain the core or have extra space in huge one
3. Just need it done yesterday

ZPU,8051,6502 core is great when:
1. No budget (free)
2. Space efficient
3. Can spend time clowning around getting them to work
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11:37 <@ktemkin> c4757p: marshall has transcended communications media
11:37 <@ktemkin> He speaks protocols directly.
 

Offline BBQ

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Re: ALTERA Nios II Embedded Evaluation Kit - who has tried it?
« Reply #11 on: December 03, 2013, 08:04:25 pm »
Blink LED + "Hello World" example instructions are 20 pages long. I guess that says a lot about the efforts needed dealing with Nios II.
 


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