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Visitor
Visitor
3,831 Views
Registered: ‎12-20-2016

new to FPGA

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Hi,

I am keen to start with FPGA's.  I am mainly looking to add use them to add some research capability to my flash memory lab.

I have done quite a bit of reading, starting at the very lowest rung with some FPGA101 tutorials, reading datasheets, user forums discussing various dev boards.

 

The first project I want to do seems simple, but I doubt it will be!  I want to be able to read contents of a StrataFlash chip (external to board).  I have seen the PicoBlaze project for the 3E. and forum posts like:

Spartan-Family-FPGAs/Reading-and-writing-to-Flash-on-Spartan-3E-starter-kit

Nexys2-writing-flash-issue-Help

 

These may be helpful, but I don't have enough information to decide yet.  Also, I am wondering if newer FPGA boards, or simpler boards may be a better choice, as I don't want to write config data to onboard flash, I dont need any other functionality, and possibly newer devices may be easier/better supported/better in general to use... 

 

Can anyone suggest a suitable minimum spec board to start with?  Basically I have various StrataFlash chips and I want to read the contents (dump them).  I know there are probably programmers available, but the goal is to also get a step into FPGA's for future similar projects.  Do I really need a 3E based device or is that just what the project author decided to go with?  I see StrataFlash used in places like holding config data for routers, in phones etc, so I am hoping a simple reader shouldnt need a complex/expensive board, or "too hard" of a dev learning curve.

 

It has been very interesting reading through these forums, and thanks to all cluey guys and gals offering their time to us greenhorns!

 

Best regards,

Brian

 

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Scholar
Scholar
7,192 Views
Registered: ‎06-05-2013

bri@n You may get started with an inexpensive ARTY board.

https://www.xilinx.com/products/boards-and-kits/arty.html

 

This board has got 16MB QSPI flash. You can also use the existing designs to learn and perform the read/write on the flash using FPGA. If I were you, I would go for 7 series FPGA and inexpensive board to start with. 

-Pratham

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Xilinx Employee
Xilinx Employee
3,819 Views
Registered: ‎10-24-2013

Hi bri@n

Its all depends on how much logic you want to implement.

I suggest you to get in touch with nearest sales/distributor office for a formal discussion on your requirement and they will be able to help you to choose the board that can cater your future design requirements as well.

https://www.xilinx.com/about/contact.html

Thanks,Vijay
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Xilinx Employee
Xilinx Employee
3,805 Views
Registered: ‎08-01-2008
Spartan 3E are older device and will not be support in future. I would recommend you use Vivado tool and latest device.

StrataFlash information you can find in these documents
https://www.xilinx.com/products/boards/s3e1600e/PicoBlaze_NOR_FLASH_programmer_1600E_rev1.pdf
https://www.xilinx.com/support/documentation/application_notes/xapp1106.pdf
https://www.xilinx.com/support/documentation/application_notes/xapp963.pdf

You can find Vivado information here
https://www.xilinx.com/support/documentation-navigation/design-hubs/dh0002-vivado-design-flows-overview-hub.html

https://www.xilinx.com/support/documentation-navigation/design-hubs/dh0002-vivado-design-flows-overview-hub.html

Board and kits information available here
https://www.xilinx.com/products/boards-and-kits.html
Thanks and Regards
Balkrishan
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Visitor
Visitor
3,767 Views
Registered: ‎12-20-2016

Thank you Vijay and Balkrishan for your answers, I appreciate you taking time to help.  I am wondering if maybe I need to try a forum with a more hobby-based outlook.  I think these forums may be biased more to industry/engineering of a larger scale.

 

Vijay, thank you, I understand the suggestion, and normally it would be probably the wisest choice, but I dont think a sales rep would want to spend valuable time consulting when I really want a pretty basic solution, and have no real possibility of other purchases for a while until I get more, much more! experience in FPGAs.  I was hoping a forum might be able to just give a nudge to a starter/simple board and some SDK to get going.

 

Balkrishan, I also thought to choose a modern, current board and IDE, I agree there.  I had seen all the Strataflash references and read through them.  If I used those as a base reference, I think I would be in trouble as the use case is quite different - simply reading an external strataflash chip and saving dump. I would need to port/modify a lot for a current board, and without FPGA experience I think it would be quite difficult.  Even deciding on a board that only really does what I need, and isnt overkill, but does support my project goal wouldnt currently be possible.

 

I hope I don't appear to be being difficult! I Thank you for the links, I am reading through them.

 

Best regards, Brian

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Scholar
Scholar
7,193 Views
Registered: ‎06-05-2013

bri@n You may get started with an inexpensive ARTY board.

https://www.xilinx.com/products/boards-and-kits/arty.html

 

This board has got 16MB QSPI flash. You can also use the existing designs to learn and perform the read/write on the flash using FPGA. If I were you, I would go for 7 series FPGA and inexpensive board to start with. 

-Pratham

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Visitor
Visitor
3,744 Views
Registered: ‎12-20-2016
Thank You Pratham. I know my question was quite vague in nature. for the price, it looks like a very flexible board. I think it probably has more than I need for what I want to do, but just re-reading the first 2 replies, I think the sentiment of getting something that can also be used in future is smarter.. Thanks everyone for your support.
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