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Getting started VHDL, VHDL for Dummies, Easy Steps for FPGA experiments

Discussion in 'Embedded' started by Kutaj Vamor, Sep 25, 2005.

  1. Kutaj Vamor

    Kutaj Vamor Guest

    Dear FPGA and VHDL Experts,

    I am new to FPGA and VHDL. I would like to learn VHDL and start
    experimenting FPGA. I beleive I learn faster and better by experimenting.
    What would you recommend for beginners like me to getting started with VHDL
    and FPGA experimentation ?
    Which SW (for WinXP and/or Fedora Linux ) for VHDL?
    Which start-up experimentation board for FPGA?
    Which URL, books etc for easy to start experiment?

    Many thanks for your help.

    Kutaj Vamor
    Kutaj Vamor, Sep 25, 2005
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  2. Go to http://www.fpga4fun.com/ . They have a number of tutorials and
    cheap development boards.

    Anton Erasmus
    Anton Erasmus, Sep 25, 2005
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  3. Kutaj Vamor

    Kevin Brace Guest

    Hi Kutaj,

    I recommend downloading free Xilinx ISE WebPACK design software from
    Xilinx since at least Xilinx gives you a very slow HDL simulator
    (ModelSim XE-Starter) unlike Altera, Actel, or Lattice.
    I believe ModelSim XE-Starter supports Windows only, so I recommend
    sticking to Windows for the time being.
    I also recommend learning Verilog instead of VHDL because Verilog is
    lighter and simpler language than VHDL. (VHDL is a "heavier" language
    than Verilog in my opinion.)
    I know there are many different ways to learn HDL and FPGA, but
    one method I recommend doing is to attach your FPGA to a desktop
    computer via PCI bus, and experiment with the FPGA.
    I myself tried learning HDL (Verilog and VHDL) reading books written
    about them, but it didn't work out because either the examples in the
    books were too short, boring (Like traffic light or vending machine
    state machine example often used in HDL books.), or wasn't something
    large enough like accessing an FPGA from a computer.
    I always thought that attaching one's own FPGA to a desktop computer
    will be an interesting project, so developed my own PCI interface to do
    so, and in the process, I learned Verilog HDL. (Learned VHDL later by
    porting Verilog HDL code to VHDL.)
    PCI bus is a fairly complex bus (PCI Express is even worse.) which is
    certainly intimidating for FPGA beginners, but the use of a PCI IP
    (Intellectual Property) core can largely solve the problem, allowing the
    FPGA beginner to concentrate on the user logic behind the PCI bus.
    BDS XPCI PCI IP core is a Xilinx (TM) LogiCORE (TM) PCI
    compatible (replacement) PCI IP core developed by Brace Design Solutions.
    BDS XPCI32 PCI IP core is available for as little as $100 for
    non-commercial, non-profit, personal use, and the same 64-bit version
    BDS XPCI64 PCI IP core (Includes BDS XPCI32 PCI IP core) goes for $200.
    Since the pricing starts at only $100, it is ideal for HDL learners,
    FPGA beginners, FPGA hobbyists, computer hardware enthusiasts, or
    student graduation projects.
    BDS XPCI PCI IP core comes with a PCI testbench for Verilog HDL which
    allows the user to simulate the design extensively on an HDL simulator
    like ModelSim before firing up the FPGA.
    VHDL support is currently poor, but VHDL porting of reference designs
    and PCI testbench should be available in a month.
    BDS XPCI PCI IP core officially supports the following PCI boards.

    - Insight Electronics Spartan-II 150 PCI (Already discontinued)

    - Insight Electronics Spartan-II 200 PCI Development Kit

    BDS XPCI PCI IP core "unofficially" supports the following PCI boards.

    - Avnet Xilinx Spartan-3 Evaluation Kit
    http://www.em.avnet.com/ctf_shared/evk/df2df2usa/Xilinx Spartan-3 Evaluation Kit - Brief 022504F.pdf

    - Enterpoint Broaddown2 Development Board

    So with BDS XPCI PCI IP core, almost anyone can make their own PCI
    device for about $400 to $500. ($300 to $400 for the board + $100 for
    BDS XPCI32 PCI IP core)
    For commercial users who want to modify a Xilinx LogiCORE PCI or want to
    convert a design that uses Xilinx LogiCORE PCI to an ASIC (FPGA to ASIC
    conversion), BDS XPCI PCI IP core is also available in Verilog HDL RTL.
    For more information, visit Brace Design Solutions website at

    Kevin Brace

    Brace Design Solutions
    Xilinx (TM) LogiCORE (TM) PCI compatible BDS XPCI PCI IP core available
    for as little as $100 for non-commercial, non-profit, personal use.

    Xilinx and LogiCORE are registered trademarks of Xilinx, Inc.
    Kevin Brace, Sep 25, 2005
  4. Kutaj Vamor

    troy.scott Guest


    Lattice offers the free "ispLEVER-Starter" package for PCs at
    www.latticesemi.com. It provides several modules to download Lattice
    implementation tools including Precision RTL or Synplify logic
    synthesis for Lattice FPGAs.

    After you've studied a VHDL text book, I'd recommend the User Guides
    from the respective logic synthesis vendors. These will provide
    practical examples and style guidelines to write good RTL.

    Troy Scott
    Lattice Semiconductor
    troy.scott, Sep 30, 2005
  5. Kutaj Vamor

    PNowe Guest

    Another option for a Spartan 3 board can be found at
    www.dulseelectronics.com. There are also a number of tutorials there for
    beginning with Xilinx ISE Webpack.

    Philip Nowe
    PNowe, Oct 2, 2005
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