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Visitor buyukcolako
Visitor
11,613 Views
Registered: ‎12-20-2011

Using SPI flash with FPGA(not configuration)

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Hi,

I have a project that needs to use DNA, multiboot, SPI flash etc. I  am stuck at using SPI flash. I have a board apart from xilinx's products. The company does not provide enough info about the board. I used multiboot functionality with the SPI. In my project aside from configuration data, i need to write to a specific location(most likely  the ending empty 64 bits of flash)and read that 64bits of data from SPI flash. I couldn't figure out how to do so. In short i need some pointers and hints to how to use a SPI flash with Verilog.(i want to avoid using microblaze)
First question is does it possible to use SPI flash by using simple state machines?

If so, how the protocol should be?(i used SPI on a microcontroller platform with a master and slavebut i can't say i fully understand it)
Do i need a microblaze core at all cost?

My board has a 16Mbyte SPI flash(x4) , i found out that the chip is from numonyx, but i don't know the specific chip number so i don't have the datasheet either.

 Any  help is appriciated. Thanks for your attention

 


Edit: Btw the board has SPARTAN-6 chip on it, i could provide more info if needed.
Edit2: i suppose the spi flash is Numonyx N25Q128

Best Regards
Colak 

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Instructor
Instructor
14,826 Views
Registered: ‎07-21-2009

Re: Using SPI flash with FPGA(not configuration)

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I have a project that needs to use DNA, multiboot, SPI flash etc. I  am stuck at using SPI flash.

 

SPI is a very simple interface.  At a low level, it is little more than an 8-bit shift register.  An SPI interface is one of the very first lab assignments given to beginning FPGA design students -- because it is so simple.  Your first step, assuming that you are proficient in FPGA design and Verilog, is to learn more about SPI.  There is an abundance of information on the web.

 

I have a board apart from xilinx's products. The company does not provide enough info about the board.

 

Of course, we probably cannot help you there.  Is it a proprietary board or is it a commercially available FPGA development board?

 

I used multiboot functionality with the SPI. In my project aside from configuration data, i need to write to a specific location(most likely  the ending empty 64 bits of flash)and read that 64bits of data from SPI flash. I couldn't figure out how to do so. In short i need some pointers and hints to how to use a SPI flash with Verilog.(i want to avoid using microblaze)

 

Is this a school project?  If so, your instructor should be the one to give you instruction and guidance.  If this is not a school project, I don't understand why you are taking on this assignment without the training and confidence required to solve the problem on your own.

 

Are you expecting this user forum to train you?

Is the memory device datasheet insufficient for your purposes?

 

First question is does it possible to use SPI flash by using simple state machines?

 

Yes.  Implementing the low level interface (read or write a byte, given a specific address) is typically implemented as a small state machine.

 

If so, how the protocol should be?(i used SPI on a microcontroller platform with a master and slavebut i can't say i fully understand it)

 

There is always a 'first time' for everything. Do you need encouragement from us to learn how SPI works?

 

Do i need a microblaze core at all cost?

 

No.

 

My board has a 16Mbyte SPI flash(x4) , i found out that the chip is from numonyx, but i don't know the specific chip number so i don't have the datasheet either.

 

Stop acting helpless.  Read the number printed on the device on your board.  Read the board schematics.  Contact the board's manufacturer.  Engineering is an endeavour which requires active participation, it is not a spectator's sport.

 

Any  help is appriciated. Thanks for your attention.

 

First off, you must help yourself.  If you don't have enough confidence to take on this challenge, then start with a smaller and simpler project to build some confidence.  Accessing a SPI configuration memory after the Spartan-6 FPGA has been 'booted' from it is a simple and straightforward function which is being designed and implemented every day, by beginners.

 

If the FPGA can use the SPI memory device for configuration, then you should have no problem whatsoever designing a controller to access the same SPI memory device from the same FPGA.

 

-- Bob Elkind

SIGNATURE:
README for newbies is here: http://forums.xilinx.com/t5/New-Users-Forum/README-first-Help-for-new-users/td-p/219369

Summary:
1. Read the manual or user guide. Have you read the manual? Can you find the manual?
2. Search the forums (and search the web) for similar topics.
3. Do not post the same question on multiple forums.
4. Do not post a new topic or question on someone else's thread, start a new thread!
5. Students: Copying code is not the same as learning to design.
6 "It does not work" is not a question which can be answered. Provide useful details (with webpage, datasheet links, please).
7. You are not charged extra fees for comments in your code.
8. I am not paid for forum posts. If I write a good post, then I have been good for nothing.

View solution in original post

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Teacher rcingham
Teacher
11,600 Views
Registered: ‎09-09-2010

Re: Using SPI flash with FPGA(not configuration)

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"is it possible to use SPI flash by using simple state machines?

Yes. It might be difficult, but it is possible. Especially now that you have sourced the datasheet for the flash IC.
UNLESS the flash is connected to FPGA pins that cannot also be used as User I/O.

------------------------------------------
"If it don't work in simulation, it won't work on the board."
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Instructor
Instructor
14,827 Views
Registered: ‎07-21-2009

Re: Using SPI flash with FPGA(not configuration)

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I have a project that needs to use DNA, multiboot, SPI flash etc. I  am stuck at using SPI flash.

 

SPI is a very simple interface.  At a low level, it is little more than an 8-bit shift register.  An SPI interface is one of the very first lab assignments given to beginning FPGA design students -- because it is so simple.  Your first step, assuming that you are proficient in FPGA design and Verilog, is to learn more about SPI.  There is an abundance of information on the web.

 

I have a board apart from xilinx's products. The company does not provide enough info about the board.

 

Of course, we probably cannot help you there.  Is it a proprietary board or is it a commercially available FPGA development board?

 

I used multiboot functionality with the SPI. In my project aside from configuration data, i need to write to a specific location(most likely  the ending empty 64 bits of flash)and read that 64bits of data from SPI flash. I couldn't figure out how to do so. In short i need some pointers and hints to how to use a SPI flash with Verilog.(i want to avoid using microblaze)

 

Is this a school project?  If so, your instructor should be the one to give you instruction and guidance.  If this is not a school project, I don't understand why you are taking on this assignment without the training and confidence required to solve the problem on your own.

 

Are you expecting this user forum to train you?

Is the memory device datasheet insufficient for your purposes?

 

First question is does it possible to use SPI flash by using simple state machines?

 

Yes.  Implementing the low level interface (read or write a byte, given a specific address) is typically implemented as a small state machine.

 

If so, how the protocol should be?(i used SPI on a microcontroller platform with a master and slavebut i can't say i fully understand it)

 

There is always a 'first time' for everything. Do you need encouragement from us to learn how SPI works?

 

Do i need a microblaze core at all cost?

 

No.

 

My board has a 16Mbyte SPI flash(x4) , i found out that the chip is from numonyx, but i don't know the specific chip number so i don't have the datasheet either.

 

Stop acting helpless.  Read the number printed on the device on your board.  Read the board schematics.  Contact the board's manufacturer.  Engineering is an endeavour which requires active participation, it is not a spectator's sport.

 

Any  help is appriciated. Thanks for your attention.

 

First off, you must help yourself.  If you don't have enough confidence to take on this challenge, then start with a smaller and simpler project to build some confidence.  Accessing a SPI configuration memory after the Spartan-6 FPGA has been 'booted' from it is a simple and straightforward function which is being designed and implemented every day, by beginners.

 

If the FPGA can use the SPI memory device for configuration, then you should have no problem whatsoever designing a controller to access the same SPI memory device from the same FPGA.

 

-- Bob Elkind

SIGNATURE:
README for newbies is here: http://forums.xilinx.com/t5/New-Users-Forum/README-first-Help-for-new-users/td-p/219369

Summary:
1. Read the manual or user guide. Have you read the manual? Can you find the manual?
2. Search the forums (and search the web) for similar topics.
3. Do not post the same question on multiple forums.
4. Do not post a new topic or question on someone else's thread, start a new thread!
5. Students: Copying code is not the same as learning to design.
6 "It does not work" is not a question which can be answered. Provide useful details (with webpage, datasheet links, please).
7. You are not charged extra fees for comments in your code.
8. I am not paid for forum posts. If I write a good post, then I have been good for nothing.

View solution in original post

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Instructor
Instructor
11,587 Views
Registered: ‎07-21-2009

Re: Using SPI flash with FPGA(not configuration)

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"is it possible to use SPI flash by using simple state machines?

Yes. It might be difficult, but it is possible. Especially now that you have sourced the datasheet for the flash IC.
UNLESS the flash is connected to FPGA pins that cannot also be used as User I/O.

 

For Spartan-6 devices, all the necessary  memory device interface pins are available for use as User I/O, so this is not an issue.  The interface is simple enough to be a first-semester homework assignment for students.

 

-- Bob Elkind

SIGNATURE:
README for newbies is here: http://forums.xilinx.com/t5/New-Users-Forum/README-first-Help-for-new-users/td-p/219369

Summary:
1. Read the manual or user guide. Have you read the manual? Can you find the manual?
2. Search the forums (and search the web) for similar topics.
3. Do not post the same question on multiple forums.
4. Do not post a new topic or question on someone else's thread, start a new thread!
5. Students: Copying code is not the same as learning to design.
6 "It does not work" is not a question which can be answered. Provide useful details (with webpage, datasheet links, please).
7. You are not charged extra fees for comments in your code.
8. I am not paid for forum posts. If I write a good post, then I have been good for nothing.
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Visitor buyukcolako
Visitor
11,579 Views
Registered: ‎12-20-2011

Re: Using SPI flash with FPGA(not configuration)

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Well, first of all i'm  gratefull for your answers, rchingham and eteam. Both  answers had enough detail and I found the workaround.

Btw i want to add some personal thoughts for your answers, this part irrelevant from the post. If it is deleted it's fine.

rchigham: your answer is short and it has enough details for further questioning i thank you for that.

eteam: I thank you for your time to answer my post. But i couldn't deny that i feel discouraged and humuliated. I don't want to be rude, but you seem to look down on people easily. I know people like you and i admire your decisiveness on specific issues(like the FPGA issue you  seem well knowledged about the platform).
 I neither want the forum's training nor your's. And i  don't need it. There was a problem i faced. The deadline was 1 and a half day near which is pretty close if we consider that i took the project on THIS morning. And i simply asked if anyone can give some information(like rchigham's answer or this part of yoru answer:"SPI is a very simple interface. At a low level, it is little more than an 8-bit shift register."and also "Yes. Implementing the low level interface (read or write a byte, given a specific address) is typically implemented as a small state machine." Those were all i needed but you made a fuss about this.)

And there is more. I saw LOTS of post on here which are strained, rude, like they are forcing the issue to the forum users. Like the users of this forum HAD to answer it. This kind of messages are really iritating in my oppinion, so i tried to be kind and respectfull against you(all of the users) by using "Any help is appriciated. Thanks for your attention."  senteces like that. This part really  made me mad : "First off, you must help yourself. If you don't have enough confidence to take on this challenge, then start with a smaller and simpler project to build some confidence." Also this "Stop acting helpless. Read the number printed on the device on your board" Believe me if the surface of chip wasn't ERASED i wouldn't be asking that. Since the vendor of my board SUCKS at documentations there were no info about the  extra chips on the board. This was really iritating too: "There is always a 'first time' for everything. Do you need encouragement from us to learn how SPI works?" Oh believe me, i know there is  first times.

First; you don't know me you don't have the rights to use those words.
Second, try to be a  little understanding. There is always newbie users.(i am not a newbie nor an advanced person. I am just new to spartan 6 platform. As i said above i used SPI protocol on a uC. I also used I2C and CAN and USB protocols many times. etc... The only problem  was the absence of chip number,  you didn't have to affront me for that.) What  if somebody asked more basic questions(i'm sure they are asking but anyway)

 

As a final sentence, Many bright young minds became cold on FPGA platform at my university, and the total cause was a person which acted JUST LIKE YOU.

Anyway, i apologize if i was rude to you all, thanks again for your helps
with respect
Colak

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Instructor
Instructor
11,558 Views
Registered: ‎07-21-2009

Re: Using SPI flash with FPGA(not configuration)

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Well, first of all i'm  gratefull for your answers, rchingham and eteam. Both  answers had enough detail and I found the workaround.

 

Thank you for the news of your success.

 

Btw i want to add some personal thoughts for your answers, this part irrelevant from the post. If it is deleted it's fine.

 

Personally, I appreciate your feedback.

 

rchigham: your answer is short and it has enough details for further questioning i thank you for that.

 

rcingham has been very helpful and patient with newbie FPGA designers in these forums, for a very long time.

 

eteam: I thank you for your time to answer my post. But i couldn't deny that i feel discouraged and humuliated.

 

That was not my intent.  I apologise for having put you in this position.

 

I don't want to be rude, but you seem to look down on people easily. I know people like you and i admire your decisiveness on specific issues (like the FPGA issue you  seem well knowledged about the platform).

 

You aren't rude (at least, not by my standards), and I admit to forming judgments of people based on very little information and interaction.  These judgments are sometimes wrong.  I form these judgments to help frame an appropriate and helpful response in these forums.

 

If I had judged you as an experienced power supply designer (for example) with little interest in FPGA design, who needed a quick and brief answer in a field outside your feld of long-term interest, I would have answered you very differently.  I judged you to be a moderately experienced designer, perhaps someone still in school but already moderately schooled in design.

 

I neither want the forum's training nor your's. And i don't need it.

 

I disagree.  If I search the web for the term "SPI', the very first returned item is a Wikipedia article which makes the simplicity of SPI very clear in the first 4 or 5 paragraphs.  I would expect (not hope... expect) a designer posting to a web-based user forum to have spent 1 or 2 minutes of your time engaged in a web search.  Your question whether or not a MicroBlaze processor is required for an FPGA-based SPI controller would (and should) have been answered right there.  Do you agree?

 

It is not my intent to humiliate or embarass you.  One of my highest-priority personal agendas for participating in these forums is to help by training and teaching, rather than indulge someone seeking to avoid learning and growing.  At the risk of embarassing you further, I'll ask you: Did you spend as much time in a web search as you did in contemplating and writing your posts to this forum? (that's a rhetorical question, you need not answer)

 

There was a problem i faced. The deadline was 1 and a half day near which is pretty close if we consider that i took the project on THIS morning.

 

Now you realise the limitations of user forum posts -- the information you do not provide is often unknown to the reader, and missing context and detail can make a very big difference in the message you do or do not successfully convey.  This is a problem for all of us, it is the nature of the user forum which we struggle to overcome.

 

And i simply asked if anyone can give some information (like rchigham's answer or this part of yoru answer:"SPI is a very simple interface. At a low level, it is little more than an 8-bit shift register."and also "Yes. Implementing the low level interface (read or write a byte, given a specific address) is typically implemented as a small state machine." Those were all i needed but you made a fuss about this.)

 

The fuss I made was

 

  • why you didn't or couldn't answer your questions from consulting the memory device datasheet and the abundance of web-based information (the Wiki article is amazingly concise) which should have been available to you
  • why you didn't consult your instructor (if you are a student), thereby helping you while also providing feedback to your instructor.  If I was a paid instructor, I would want to know if my instruction curriculum and teaching were effective, and that the students were receiving consistent and uniform instruction from me (instead of from random web-based sources).

And there is more. I saw LOTS of post on here which are strained, rude, like they are forcing the issue to the forum users. Like the users of this forum HAD to answer it. This kind of messages are really iritating in my oppinion, so i tried to be kind and respectfull against you (all of the users) by using "Any help is appriciated. Thanks for your attention."  senteces like that. This part really  made me mad : "First off, you must help yourself. If you don't have enough confidence to take on this challenge, then start with a smaller and simpler project to build some confidence." Also this "Stop acting helpless. Read the number printed on the device on your board"

 

In many cases, this is entirely consistent with helping you (or others) to be more productive, more confident, more self-sufficient, and better-trained as a designer.  I understand that you don't value or appreciate this sort of help, but in the context of an online user forum it sometimes serves to be both brief and blunt. (note:  being blunt comes naturally to me, being brief does not)

 

If someone sitting next to you in the school library asks you 'what time is it', do you tell him/her the time, or do you point to the clock on the wall so that your colleague can meet his/her needs when you aren't sitting by his/her side?  In your case, I did both.

 

Believe me if the surface of chip wasn't ERASED i wouldn't be asking that. Since the vendor of my board SUCKS at documentations there were no info about the extra chips on the board.

 

Information missing from your post.  By the way (and this occurred to me while writing this), if your board provides access to the FPGA's JTAG pins, you might have been able to use iMPACT software to identify the SPI memory device.

 

This was really iritating too: "There is always a 'first time' for everything. Do you need encouragement from us to learn how SPI works?" Oh believe me, i know there is  first times.

 

Your irritation is self-inflicted.  You said you had used SPI before but did not understand the protocol.  Do you understand the protocol now?

 

First; you don't know me you don't have the rights to use those words.
Second, try to be a  little understanding. There is always newbie users.(i am not a newbie nor an advanced person. I am just new to spartan 6 platform. As i said above i used SPI protocol on a uC. I also used I2C and CAN and USB protocols many times. etc... The only problem  was the absence of chip number,  you didn't have to affront me for that.)

 

From your original post, it was not clear that 'absence of chip number' stood in the way of gaining basic understanding of SPI protocol, or determining the need for a MicroBlaze.  It is still not clear.  Do you agree?

 

What  if somebody asked more basic questions(i'm sure they are asking but anyway)

 

SPI is a frequently mentioned subject in these forums.  I typically refer forum users to:

  • their instructor (if students)
  • fpga4fun.com website
  • the Wikipedia article
  • opencores.org

As a final sentence, Many bright young minds became cold on FPGA platform at my university, and the total cause was a person which acted JUST LIKE YOU.

 

This is a silly assertion.  Design is not a discipline for people with fragile egos or who are too sensitive to personal insult.  There are too many decisions and tradeoffs to be made, too many deadlines and compromises to be negotiated, for the timid or passive designer to thrive.  It is better to confront these issues sooner rather than later.

 

Aside from the apparent insult and humiliation my 'help' inflicted, were you in any measure inclined to run a web search of 'SPI' or consult one of the professsors for assistance, as a result of my post?  Or were the useful points limited to 1 or 2 lines?

 

Anyway, i apologize if i was rude to you all, thanks again for your helps

with respect
Colak

 

If you have the time, I would be interested in your idea of a proper and helpful response to your first posting in this thread.  Given that your questions have been answered, what would have been the help you should have received?

 

Consider this:  In the span of a few hours (and much less than a few hours of effort) you

  • had your questions answered
  • you learned that you could find useful information on the web
  • you learned the need to communicate more effectively in your forum posts

That's quite a bit of value for not much effort or time.  I'd say you've had a pretty good day, so far.  Wouldn't you?

 

I wish you well in your endeavours.  I don't work for Xilinx, and I will be careful not to challenge you in subsequent threads if you find it useful to post again in these forums.  So you needn't be wary of a similar experience (of this discussion) on some future occasion.

 

-- Bob Elkind

SIGNATURE:
README for newbies is here: http://forums.xilinx.com/t5/New-Users-Forum/README-first-Help-for-new-users/td-p/219369

Summary:
1. Read the manual or user guide. Have you read the manual? Can you find the manual?
2. Search the forums (and search the web) for similar topics.
3. Do not post the same question on multiple forums.
4. Do not post a new topic or question on someone else's thread, start a new thread!
5. Students: Copying code is not the same as learning to design.
6 "It does not work" is not a question which can be answered. Provide useful details (with webpage, datasheet links, please).
7. You are not charged extra fees for comments in your code.
8. I am not paid for forum posts. If I write a good post, then I have been good for nothing.
Tags (1)
Visitor buyukcolako
Visitor
11,549 Views
Registered: ‎12-20-2011

Re: Using SPI flash with FPGA(not configuration)

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It seems i made some miss judgements on your post. I should have looked a little deeper in an engineers view not a students view,i am genuinely sorry about that.(I think the choice of words affected me,  and since english is not my native language i do make misinterpretations) but after you explanied your ideas in a different way(at least i think the second post is a very good answer) it all made sense.

I thank you again and again, these post are helpfull for me and for my engineering life in future, and this sentence i couldn't agree more:  "Engineering is an endeavour which requires active participation, it is not a spectator's sport."

I agree with your therotical question too. Since the deadline was close i didn't have the chance to look deeply into it. And i didn't give lots of data, cause i thought that they are useless.


For my instructor, i am working with him for about 2 years. he is a good and very succesfull person. But he does not give enough time to his students. Since the 2 years, the process was always like this: I took an assignment(both relevant to courses and independent issues) I searched and solved or couldn't solve it. With the assistance of another instructor i mostly overcome my problems. But in these weeks both me and the two instructors are busy with papers and cources and also we are in the finals week. This situation is an exception.


I try to think in your shoes. And the answer i would have give would be a little smaller with some different words, but apart from that the idea behind it would be the same. On my behalf i'm sorry for my rudeness(it won't happen again)

 

with respect
Colak

 

Professor
Professor
11,500 Views
Registered: ‎08-14-2007

Re: Using SPI flash with FPGA(not configuration)

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Just in case anyone else reads this thread and wants to know efficient ways to implement

SPI access to external flash memory, I would add that the PicoBlaze is a good alternative

to direct HDL coding.  It has a very small footprint (although it includes a block RAM) and

is easily capable of handling the higher level protocol of writing and erasing the SPI flash.

I have used PicoBlaze in parts as small as the XC2S15 where the PicoBlaze handled

SPI access as well as serial communication to a host and configuration of a larger

Virtex 2 part from the attached SPI flash.  Certainly MicroBlaze could also be used for

this, but at a much higher cost in FPGA resources, and possibly also in design time.

I would only consider MicroBlaze if I already needed it for some other function in the design.

 

Just my $.02

 

-- Gabor

-- Gabor
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Visitor sajeesh
Visitor
11,318 Views
Registered: ‎05-02-2012

Re: Using SPI flash with FPGA(not configuration)

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Hi,

    I am using Digilent Atlys board for my academic project work. It is having Numonyx N25Q128 flash memory. I wanted to read data from flash to FPGA. I had written a VHDL code for reading the flash using Quad COmmand Fast Read mode(all instruction and address send through 4 lines in parallel), but could not read data from Flash. I don't know whether my code is wrong or I am trying wrong mode of reading.

   I saw this post reagring flash reading and came to know that the problem was solved.

   Can some one please tell me in what mode i should try to read the ata. i.e, whether instruction and address in 4 lines or only address in 4 lines, etc.....

   I will be thankful if some one can help me out with working code.

 

Thanks in advance.

 

Regards,

Sajeesh

 

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Professor
Professor
11,312 Views
Registered: ‎08-14-2007

Re: Using SPI flash with FPGA(not configuration)

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The N25Q128 data sheet is probably your best source of information.  For quad-mode readout,

only the read data is 4-bits wide.  The command and address is still presented to the flash

one bit at a time.  The real difference between normal (fast) read and quad readout is that instead

of just one data pin, read data comes out on four pins when the flash is driving the data.  This

means that some pins which are normally unidirectional become bidirectional for quad-mode

SPI flash.

 

-- Gabor

-- Gabor
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Teacher rcingham
Teacher
4,415 Views
Registered: ‎09-09-2010

Re: Using SPI flash with FPGA(not configuration)

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"I had written a VHDL code for reading the flash"

Did you simulate it?
If so, where did you get the model of the N25Q128?

------------------------------------------
"If it don't work in simulation, it won't work on the board."
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Visitor sajeesh
Visitor
4,414 Views
Registered: ‎05-02-2012

Re: Using SPI flash with FPGA(not configuration)

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Dear Sir,
Thanks for your inputs. I will try this mode of reading. I was sending even instruction and address in 4 lines as mentioned for Quad command fast read. Thanks.
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Visitor sajeesh
Visitor
4,411 Views
Registered: ‎05-02-2012

Re: Using SPI flash with FPGA(not configuration)

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Dear rcinggham,
One friend provided me the data sheet of N25Q128 and some code, he also could not read the flash. The code is for Quad command fast read and the simulation results are as mentioned in data sheet. But manufacturer of the board didn't mention in which mode the flash is configured.

Thanks
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Visitor fls50
Visitor
3,929 Views
Registered: ‎12-18-2012

Re: Using SPI flash with FPGA(not configuration)

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I am just getting started with an FPGA on a daq board.  We will be using the n25Q flash for parameter storage.  In the data sheet, it tells you how to set the component configuration registers so command and address are sent on all four data line.

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