03-27-2017 10:21 AM
Hi, although I originally studied electronics (in the late 70s, early 80s) I never worked professionally in this field and have spent my career as a software developer. I'm now getting "back into" electronics as a past time and enjoying it.
However the area of FPGA development is very new to me and I'm seeking guidance on a sensible way to explore area of electronics.
So is anyone able to advise me on:
1. A decent FPGA dev board.
2. The ideal software suite/tools to use.
3. Basic PC spec for doing all this.
I want to setup a PC dedicated to electronics work (my main desktop is too good for playing like this (i7-3960X, 64GB RAM etc used for large .Net software work).
I presume Window 10 is fine (I have no desire to use a different OS).?
My main interest with FPGAs is to gain insight into them and the tools, I'm particularly interested in how functional languages might be able to play a role in newer design langauges, eg Clash.
03-27-2017 10:36 AM
Best place to get started is to visit Digilent Inc.
BASYS3 is used by many schools (Artix 7 device).
The Zedboard is another great choice, as you do not have to give up software at all (dual core ARM A9's running Linux plus the programmable logic.
Another even more software centric choice is Pynq.
All three are supported with Vivado tools, which run under Windows, or Linux workstations.
If you enroll in a college course, you could apply to get a student discount from Digilent.
I do not recommend the older devices (anything prior to the 28nm node). They are just too old to be interesting (unless you enjoy using ancient technology). Remember Peter Alfke's age rule: every year technology ages 7 years, A three year old device is 21 now, able to drink, vote, drive, get in trouble, or do useful work.
Spartan 6 is almost 60 "years" old, definitely not a choice to start with ....
03-28-2017 07:33 AM
Thanks for that info, I took a look and was impressed, a lot of helpful info, videos etc, ideal for a novice.
I'll definitely be getting this system now, can I ask if you could possibly confirm/explain for me the correct design software to use?
I'm also potentially more interested in VHDL than Verlilog, but as a novice either will be fine to get going.
03-28-2017 08:08 AM
You need Vivado webpack, logic edition for Basys3. The version should match the course materials (I believe they are up to date to 2016.2). The software is neither forward, nor backward compatible, as it is controlling a complex programmable hardware fabric. The version must match for any applications note, coursework.