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19,649 Views
Registered: ‎01-07-2008

Start out with Xilinx

I have several years experience designing and implementing embedded projects but have never used an Xilinx device. I have the need now to use a XCR3064XL or similiar device but don't know where to start.
 
I have searched the Xilinx web site and found what I believe I will need to get started but would like some confirmation. I have also asked a supplier (Nu Horizons) through e-mail for support but got a reply to wait ten days for a response. What I think I need is the Xilinx Platform Studio and the EDK, and the Coolrunner II starter kit (I am not at all sure that the XCR3064XL is a member of the Coolrunner II family). The system I am designing will have to synchronize output signals with input signals and do some light processing to calculate timing. I would like to use either C or an assembly language for the software and I guess VHDL for connections.
 
Any general information about the Xilinx family of devices (those related or similiar to the XCR3064XL) and the required development systems and their names would be greatly appreciated.
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10 Replies
Contributor
Contributor
19,646 Views
Registered: ‎10-09-2007

Re: Start out with Xilinx

As for evaluation boards, you may want have a look at Digilent (www.digilentinc.com) - they have an older, inexpensive ($60) board that is based on the XCR3064, maybe that works for you.

You say "light processing to calculate timing" - if that is supposed to happen on the device, then I'm not sure a CPLD is a good choice - you may rather opt for an FPGA which offers many times (approx. 100x to 100000x depending on type) more logic and flip-flops to implement that design, as well as additional features (like on-chip RAM) at basically the same cost (Digilent has a Spartan based board for the same price as their CPLD board). The XCR3064 on the other hand will be extremely limiting. In any case, both boards work with the free Xilinx webpack.

Wolfgang

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19,643 Views
Registered: ‎01-07-2008

Re: Start out with Xilinx

Wolfgang,
 
   Thank you for your reply, I take it the Xilinx webpack is a development package. I will search for it on the seb site.
   
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Contributor
Contributor
19,634 Views
Registered: ‎10-09-2007

Re: Start out with Xilinx

Yes, the Webpack is the free all-in-one development tool from Xilinx. It handles design entry (VHDL, Verilog, and Schematics) as well as the actual implementation (translation, place&route), simulation, and the download into the device. That means it does everything you need to get going, and you don't have to buy any expensive third party tools to get started. Doesn't cost anything for download (but you'll need a fast internet connection since the file is large) and no registration key required, or you can order a CDROM for a fee. The only catch is that only CPLDs and lower-end FPGAs are supported (Spartan, and older Virtex), but that should be more than enough for your needs, and that the simluation tool is restricted in the size of design it will handle (but again, not an issue for smaller designs, and often you should be able to break up a larger design into small stand-alone building blocks, that's good design practice anyway).

Wolfgang

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Observer svenand
Observer
19,628 Views
Registered: ‎08-13-2007

Re: Start out with Xilinx

I have written a blog about my experiences in using Xilinx ISE and EDK software packages.
You find it here: www.fpgafromscratch.com

Sven
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Xilinx Employee
Xilinx Employee
19,626 Views
Registered: ‎07-30-2007

Re: Start out with Xilinx

Hi Robert,

I am not sure how you arrived at the conclusion that you need a CoolRunner-II -- was it the low power aspect, or the cost or both? I want to make sure that you understand that the EDK solution is not free, unlike Webpack - and furthermore the EDK is meant for devices with a powerful processor in them such as the Virtex family (not CoolRunner-II).  If you decided on using CoolRunner-II, your processor option would be a soft processor (built up from CPLD logic, not a dedicated piece of silicon) known as Picoblaze.
Appnote on Picoblaze: http://www.xilinx.com/support/documentation/application_notes/xapp387.pdf

If you needed a more powerful processor, then you'd probably want to consider the Spartan-3 family, and using a soft processor called Microblaze. Again a reminder that there is a cost for the EDK toolkit here.

And one clarification on your post - the 3064XL is in the older CoolRunner XPLA3 family. It is a 3.3V low power CPLD. The CoolRunner-II is the newer, 1.8V low power CPLD. The device on the CPLD starter kit is a 256 macrocell Coolrunner-II device (XC2C256).


Regards,
Arthur
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19,623 Views
Registered: ‎01-07-2008

Re: Start out with Xilinx

Wolfgang,
  Thanks for the clarification, I am in the process of downloading the webpack now. Thanks very much for your help.
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19,620 Views
Registered: ‎01-07-2008

Re: Start out with Xilinx

Sven,
  Thanks for the link, I'll read it and hopefully learn from your experience.
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19,619 Views
Registered: ‎01-07-2008

Re: Start out with Xilinx

Arthur,
  I didn't actually arrive at the conclusion that I need a CoolRunner II, I have to use the XCR3064XL which I guess is a CoolRunner XPLA, which of course I did not know. I am also grateful for the software development tools help, I had noticed that the EDK and the other platform are far from free (I'm glad it turns out I don't need them). I doubt I will need a powerful processor, but keeping in mind the device I plan to use which development board would you recommend?
 
Thanks,
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Xilinx Employee
Xilinx Employee
19,551 Views
Registered: ‎07-30-2007

Re: Start out with Xilinx

Hi Robert,
 
  If you have to use the 3064XL, then this is the development board you'll want to use:
http://www.digilentinc.com/Products/Detail.cfm?Prod=DXCRP&Nav1=Products&Nav2=Programmable

I called thim this morning and they have them in stock.

I would recommend a CoolRunner-II or 9500XL if you still have the option of changing the part. These are newer, faster, and cheaper parts....

One last thing, I don't think you can fit the soft Picoblaze processor into 64 macrocells... so you may have to consider doing your logic in HDL.

Arthur
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7,579 Views
Registered: ‎01-07-2008

Re: Start out with Xilinx

Arthur,
  Thank you very much for the info. I will look into the CoolRunner II parts as I might yet be able to change devices.
 
Thanks again!
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