Author Topic: Getting started with FPGAs: choices on HDL and devboards  (Read 19811 times)

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Offline legacy

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Re: Getting started with FPGAs: choices on HDL and devboards
« Reply #75 on: June 05, 2013, 02:02:55 pm »
I am toying with Linux & ISE v10, original Xilinx Usb-Jtag-v1
my target fpga is Xilinx-Spartan3E-100 and S3E-500

so a very little fpga devices, the S3E-500 is ~ 2K LE!

I am coding around a m6809 softcore with just few devices:
- 2 uart, fix baud rate @9600bps (the first is for the Noice-6809's talker)
- 2Kbyte prom (with Noice's Talker inside)
- 30Kbyte of ram
- CGA video array, 1bit color, to drive an old fashion CGA tube at 320x200x1
- HD40780,4bit databus,3.3V

No great issues with Linux/Ise v10
 

Offline Hardcorefs

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Re: Getting started with FPGAs: choices on HDL and devboards
« Reply #76 on: June 07, 2013, 10:12:18 am »
@Hardcorefs

about this issue

Quote
On the VHDL side, WHY O WHY in this day and age to I have to repeatedly COMPILE from scratch, even if I add a blank line?

what about Altera ?

Altera Is better in some respects....
 

Offline fpga

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Re: Getting started with FPGAs: choices on HDL and devboards
« Reply #77 on: June 12, 2013, 03:43:55 am »
Xilinx is the biggest of all of the FPGA vendors in terms of market share, numbers of devices, numbers of cores, etc. However, their GUI tools are basically java IDE that create TCL scripts (make files) to run the command line tools in the background. If your design builds cleanly without issues, then no problem. But if for some reason it doesn't build, or you are doing something that exposes one of their bugs, then you need to waste a lot of time digging through the various log files with misleading messages and 1000's of pages of PDF documentation to find out what's going on. The devices and IP are very capable, but it can sometimes be very frustrating for no good reason.

Altera, the second largest FPGA vendor, is significantly smaller in terms of market share. Their tools are far better designed and a pleasure to use. Altera's approach to IP is different from Xilinx where Altera integrates a lot of externally source IP along with their own. I'd say that their IP is often more refined, but the selection is smaller. Also in terms of devices, their focus is more on the mid-range. Xilinx has much broader choice of FPGAs in terms of price and capacity than Altera.

Lattice is third. They have a good selection of non-volatile FPGAs and a lot of low end FPGAs, but in the mid to high end, they just can't compete with Xilinx and Altera. Also their IP tends to be much simpler, but on the plus side, they have made a lot of their IP open source. Their tools are mostly a collection of licensed 3rd party tools some of which are better than Xilinx and Altera, but they are not as well integrated. Also, since the 3rd party tools are limited versions, some capabilities are purposely limited unless you directly license those tools from the individual vendors.

Lattice also has the iCE40 family of tiny non-volatile, super low power FPGAs from their acquisition of SiliconBlue. This is probably the interesting offer they have since no-one else has anything like it. However, the devices, IP, tools are totally different from Lattice's other devices.

MicroSemi (Actel) is the fourth vendor. All of their devices are non-volatile flash based. They have some interesting SoC devices with ARM Cortex-M3 cores as well as small low power devices. They claim their flash based devices are less prone to single event upsets and so more suitable for aircraft, nuclear, and satellite use. However, their devices tend to be significantly more expensive then the other vendors.

The rest 1% of the FPGA market are either up for acquisition by the larger players or fill very niche markets.

Given a choice, I'd favor Altera due to far less senseless frustration, but Xilinx is what 8 out of 10 clients ask for. I'd consider Lattice and Actel only if their devices offer a better match for a particular application than Altera or Xilinx.

If you are starting out, don't get too particular about the sizes, packaging, and cost of the actual devices. Find a good, well supported, development board with a good size device and all of the interfaces you care for. Once you have done several working designs on that development board, then you'd have a much clearer picture of how to select a device for your own board.
I never did a day's work in my life, it was all fun -- Thomas Edison.
 

Offline TerminalJack505

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Re: Getting started with FPGAs: choices on HDL and devboards
« Reply #78 on: June 12, 2013, 04:09:35 am »
My pet peeve about the Xilinx development tools is all the crap they stick in your project folder.  For the love of Pete!  Put all that stuff in a subdirectory or something!  All I really want to see in a project folder is the source files.  Yes, I know that other stuff is needed but I don't want it to pollute the project folder.
 

Offline fpga

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Re: Getting started with FPGAs: choices on HDL and devboards
« Reply #79 on: June 12, 2013, 05:23:11 am »
My pet peeve about the Xilinx development tools is all the crap they stick in your project folder.  For the love of Pete!  Put all that stuff in a subdirectory or something!  All I really want to see in a project folder is the source files.  Yes, I know that other stuff is needed but I don't want it to pollute the project folder.

Actually its not too difficult to have the Xilinx tools put all their stuff in a build directory separate from the source. Having a separate source, along with separate coregen, constraints, and sim directories makes version control much easier and cleaner. The more recent version permits referencing source files rather than copying them into the "project" aka build directory. I also do this to target different FPGA sizes or packages with one common source.
I never did a day's work in my life, it was all fun -- Thomas Edison.
 


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