FPGA, SoC, And CPLD Boards And Kits
FPGA Evaluation and Development Kits

Queries on Altera FPGA

Honored Contributor II



I am new here and I hope to get some inputs as well as guidance from the experts around here.  


I am planning to get the Altera DE4 Development Kit which comes with Stratix 4 FPGA. This board comes with USB Host as well which is one of the requirement that I need. Before that I need to flush out some queries to ensure that this board met my requirements: 


I have a few queries here related to embedded process and O/S: 

- Can I configured the FPGA in board into an ARM embedded system?  

- Can I load linux into ARM and NIOS II embedded system? 

- What is the difference if I configured it to be an ARM or NIOS II embedded system if I can load Linux into them? Is there any advantage of one over another? 


Additional queries: 

- I plan to plug a USB Bluetooth into the USB Host connector, can the bluetooth driver works on the Linux that runs on NIOS II? How about ARM for the same question?  


Qsys/ SOPC Builder queries: 

- I read that Qsys and SOPC builder would build the interconnect for NIOS II system. Can they do it for ARM system as well? 


Sorry for the lame queries, I am new to this and hope to get some lights and avoids basic misunderstanding on Altera FPGA capabilities.  


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Honored Contributor II

Altera provides two softcores: NIOS II and ARM Cortex-M1. Both have Avalon interfaces and are available in Qsys. 


NIOS II is probably more efficent than M1. More people have experience with it as well. ARM's advantage is if you're somehow planning to move on to a hard ARM processor. 

Speakng of which, soft processors are *slow*. Mostly, they're used as control with any intensive number crunching being off-loaded to custom components. 

If you need good CPU performance, consider one of the Altera SoC with hard Cortex-A9 processors. 


Both are able to run Linux, but I don't know the state of the design tools for ARM. 

Linux is portable and open source drivers usually work on all architectures. 


Make sure you also check the licensing for the components too. 


I suggest you get the tools first and tinker with them to get a better notion. 

The web edition can't target a Stratix IV, but you can target a smaller FPGA instead. 

You can also get a 60-day evaluation version, I think.
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