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Altera_Forum
Honored Contributor I
1,540 Views

Starting FPGA Design

Hello to everyone, 

i want to start learning more about the FPGA systems design. I am a complete n00b on FPGA systems design and i want to start with something simple as far as a development board concerned. My goal regarding the FPGA usage is to try and implement soft processors (even though i don't have any idea whatsoever on how to start with this ! :cry:). My target board is the DE0 Nano board from Terasic. Can anyone please give me any suggestions if this is a good entry board or not ? 

 

Another question i would like to ask is...how many logic elements are roughly needed in order to design a simple processor ? Like 6502 or a Z80. 

 

If my n00b questions sound dump please give me your opinions or suggestions. 

 

Best regards and 

thank you in advance.
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12 Replies
Altera_Forum
Honored Contributor I
32 Views

Probably you can start by looking through some online training courses on FPGA. Check out the following link: 

 

https://www.altera.com/support/training/overview.html
Altera_Forum
Honored Contributor I
32 Views

Hi nic_@, 

thank you for your reply. I will check these training courses. How about a development board ? Can i use any kind of FPGA simulator ? 

 

Best regards. 

 

 

--- Quote Start ---  

Probably you can start by looking through some online training courses on FPGA. Check out the following link: 

 

https://www.altera.com/support/training/overview.html 

--- Quote End ---  

Altera_Forum
Honored Contributor I
32 Views

I'm using a BeMicroMAX10 to learn. I chose the MAX10 because it is the first FPGA from Altera that does not require an external memory to hold your design. It is a bit cheaper than the DE0 nano. Make sure to go through the training like Nic_@ suggested. Don't be discouraged by the amount of information. There are youtube videos, documents, training, etc. People here in the forum are very helpful as long as you try stuff before you ask. You'll need to get familiar with Quartus, Qsys and Nios tool for eclipse. All included in the (free) version of Quartus web edition version 15. Good luck and have fun.

Altera_Forum
Honored Contributor I
32 Views

Hi, 

 

Yes, Rodo said is correct. I think one of the thing to consider to your budget and target application's requirement. You can also double check in https://www.altera.com/products/boards_and_kits/all-development-kits.html for details on available development kits.
Altera_Forum
Honored Contributor I
32 Views

"Can i use any kind of FPGA simulator ?" 

 

Hi,  

 

As for the FPGA simulator, by default the Quartus II should come with a free Modelsim Altera starter edition for functional simulation. You can use this to simulate your logic before testing on hardware. Modelsim Altera generally come with basic pre-compiled Altera libraries to save some of your time to recompile most of the libraries. Note that some of the IPs would require additional library compilation
Altera_Forum
Honored Contributor I
32 Views

Hi to everyone, 

thank you so much for your valuable input. I will have a look at everything and then decide. Actually this week i am planning to place my order !!! :) 

 

Best regards, 

Panos.
Altera_Forum
Honored Contributor I
32 Views

Pay attention, Flash based FPGA have limits on number of rewrite. I think an SRAM based FPGA is better to learn.

Altera_Forum
Honored Contributor I
32 Views

 

--- Quote Start ---  

Pay attention, Flash based FPGA have limits on number of rewrite. I think an SRAM based FPGA is better to learn. 

--- Quote End ---  

 

 

Hi @flz47655, 

can you please give an example SRAM based FPGA board in order to understand better ? 

 

Best regards, 

Panos.
Altera_Forum
Honored Contributor I
32 Views

another useful link if your looking at nios ii 

 

https://www.altera.com/products/processors/support.html 

 

download the embedded documentation one click and it will get you pretty much every bit of info from altera regarding nios, then you can use the html file to find what you want 

 

also you didnt say if you know HDL, if not pick one and learn it.  

 

I have played with the de0 and a couple of other terrasic boards and imo they are good.
Altera_Forum
Honored Contributor I
32 Views

 

--- Quote Start ---  

another useful link if your looking at nios ii 

 

https://www.altera.com/products/processors/support.html 

 

download the embedded documentation one click and it will get you pretty much every bit of info from altera regarding nios, then you can use the html file to find what you want 

 

also you didnt say if you know HDL, if not pick one and learn it.  

 

I have played with the de0 and a couple of other terrasic boards and imo they are good. 

--- Quote End ---  

 

 

Hi @ela05jdc, 

I don't know any HDL but I have already bought some books on Verilog and I am going to watch also the various training video from Altera. 

 

About the Nios II soft processor, would I be able to put it into a DE0 nano board? I don't know exactly the how many logic elements are needed in order to design a simple processor. 

 

I am thinking to buy the DE0 board because I want to start with something simple. If I am about to do a mistake please tell me so because the coming weekend I am planning on ordering. 

 

Best regards and 

thank you to everyone, 

Panos.
Altera_Forum
Honored Contributor I
32 Views

All volatile FPGA like Cyclone series are SRAM (static ram) based.

Altera_Forum
Honored Contributor I
32 Views

If you would like to find something simple, maybe you can consider Atlas-SoC? 

And also I know there are a lot of resources on http://rocketboards.org/ 

Hope this info helps.
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