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FPGAs - Anyone use them?

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Hello, I was debating getting an FPGA to play with this summer. I was wondering if anyone has gotten one and how simple they found to interface to it. Also, does anyone have any suggestions as to what kind I should get? I am looking in the $100 - $200 range please. It would be nice if it was able to handle Floating point operations and not just basic gates. I'm not sure if those kind are available in the price range I am looking at though. Thanks Dwiel

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Darn it looks like there aren't too many people using these things. I doubt then, that they will be very easy to interface. I do however, know that some people on this board were familiar with them because I saw some people recomend their use in other threads...

If anyone has any info about these things, I would be greatful to hear from you!

Dwiel

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Based on my experiences with them in college, they can be quite tempermental as far as which pins you can and cannot use. Even when the specs say that a pin is free to use it may not work right based on other things like which other pins are in use, the hardware you are emulating or which phase the moon is in. Other than that they are quite good for prototyping hardware and once you get familiar with verilog or vhdl it becomes just another type of programming. The FPGA's I have worked with were from Xilinix (Xilinx?) the 100 pin ones.

I dont know what you are using them for but have you considered looking into CPLD's? They are harder to program because you have to get/make a cable to transfer the program from the computer to the CPLD but they are similar to FPGA's in their purpose.

Edit:
One thing I did want to mention was that when I worked with them the development environment that Xilinx provided with their board was awful. Everyone in the class struggled with the program to get it to work, I think most of it had to do with buggy license checking so maybe that was just because we had a license server.

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I also wanted to play around with them, and see what i could come up with

I found the foundation board at http://www.cmosexod.com/ to be very nice, and to have the best price/feature ratio. i think it cost me $182 in the end, but not sure anymore


I havent done too much with it yet, but so far it has been a pleasant experience.

HTH,
Willem

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I don't know about the hardware off hand but here are some free eda tools that could come in handy.

http://www.staticfreesoft.com/
http://www.geda.seul.org/

You should also check out

www.opencores.org

you'll also find alot of links over at

dmoz.org

computers->hardware->opensource

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Working with a FPGA contractor on my current project - he recommends www.altera.com - the compiler is free and latest version includes a scalable CPU (8, 16, or 32 bit).

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http://www.cmosexod.com/ Looks really cool! I really like the VGA and Audio Output settings. One thing I am worried about is interfacing to other I/O devices like motors, webcams, switches, Infrared, etc. Do you know how to interface things like this?

Thank you.

Dwiel

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"knowing" is a big word, but i do know that almost all fpga pins are exposed in the 2 expansion busses, and there are free pins, so there is noting stopping you from interfacing whatever hardware you want.

HTH,
Willem

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