We are now having our students buy the DE10-Lite boards for a sophomore digital design course. About a quarter of the students go on to take an advanced digital design course and have need to use the on-board SDRAM for that course. I've been hesitant to install newer versions of Quartus due to the SDRAM controller going away. Is there a suitable replacement for the educational boards?
The reason we use Intel Quartus rather than Xilinx is so the students can run free versions of the software on their own computers and not need to physically be in our labs to work on these projects. I'm therefore looking for something that can be used with the lite/web versions of the software. Being able to play with the parameters (latency, etc) would be ideal for this advanced class, but we would settle for just having the ability to use the components on the educational board.
I'm not sure what you mean by "the SDRAM controller going away" in newer versions of Quartus. There should be no issues with using those boards in newer versions of the software.
Intel has indicated that the Qsys component for the SDRAM controller will no longer be available for use with the free software after Quartus V16.1. If you try to instantiate a SDRAM controller (using Qsys) in 16.1 it warns of this in the comment box for the component. I have not installed Quartus 18, but have looked at an install and did not see the SDRAM controller. Have I been mis-informed?
You are correct. But now you would use one of the UniPHY based IPs instead of the old SDRAM controller IP. They're even listed there in the screenshot you posted. Start here for information on EMIF solutions and documentation:
The Design Guidelines handbook shows you how to add and parameterize the newer IP: