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The ideal dev kit

Altera_Forum
Honored Contributor II
1,100 Views

For my needs, the only Altera dev kit barely flexible & complete enough is the Terasic DE2, but even that falls short. Notably the 8 MiB SDRAM is far far too little and the 2C35 is on the small side. 

 

I hope the A-team aren't too proud to take a look at main competitors offerings. Boards like the ML501 and ML401 offer some really nice features for a fair price, while the S3A starter kit is very good value. 

 

The NIOS dev kits (I have one of those too) are ridiculously expensive for the feature they offer - only 16 MiB!, where is the VGA out, the dual PS/2 in, audio?, etc. 

 

Just my $0.02 

 

Tommy
0 Kudos
4 Replies
Altera_Forum
Honored Contributor II
313 Views

I'll chime in with my 2cents - where's a cheap PCI board, as well? Enterapoint has a nice lineup with the competition's FPGAs - I'd love to see similar low price Altera PCI boards. Anyone care to redo the DE1 (or equiv with a newer Cyclone) in a PCI form-factor for the same $150 ? 

 

\chuck
Altera_Forum
Honored Contributor II
313 Views

The DE2 board is designed primarily for education and offered at the low price of $269. For the features provided, it is an unbeatable price. The board has a plethora of education materials, described here: http://www.altera.com/education/univ/materials/manual/unv-lab-manual.html 

 

It is true that the board does not have a lot of SDRAM, but it has what's needed for education in most cases. We would have liked to add more SDRAM, but this would have increased the price beyond what some shools can afford. 

 

The ML boards from Xilinx are not comparable becauses they don't have the needed features for teaching courses, especially for digital logic, and they are far too expensive. The Spartan-3 board has DDR memory; try that on a student and watch them suffer ;-) 

 

Altera may add memory to the DE2 board in the future (but not to the level of a $1000 board) and may increase the size of the FPGA. This is not really needed for education, but would help some people who wish to prototype products on this platform. 

 

Thanks, 

 

--Steve 

 

 

 

--- Quote Start ---  

For my needs, the only Altera dev kit barely flexible & complete enough is the Terasic DE2, but even that falls short. Notably the 8 MiB SDRAM is far far too little and the 2C35 is on the small side. 

 

I hope the A-team aren't too proud to take a look at main competitors offerings. Boards like the ML501 and ML401 offer some really nice features for a fair price, while the S3A starter kit is very good value. 

 

The NIOS dev kits (I have one of those too) are ridiculously expensive for the feature they offer - only 16 MiB!, where is the VGA out, the dual PS/2 in, audio?, etc. 

 

Just my $0.02 

 

Tommy 

--- Quote End ---  

Altera_Forum
Honored Contributor II
313 Views

Don't forget that the NiosII kit comes with a full Quartus license *AND* a NiosII processor license. 

 

I do agree that 8MB of the DE2 is too small *AND* I wish I had a GOOD driver for the DM9000 network chip. 

 

Mike
Altera_Forum
Honored Contributor II
313 Views

 

--- Quote Start ---  

For my needs, the only Altera dev kit barely flexible & complete enough is the Terasic DE2, but even that falls short. Notably the 8 MiB SDRAM is far far too little and the 2C35 is on the small side. 

--- Quote End ---  

 

 

If it's "far too short", then you're probably trying something that's well outside the board's original target audience -- university (educational) users. 8MB is plenty for teaching and deomnstrating most digital-lab and computer architecture topics. And SDRAM ss good enough for some engeinering specific stuff (like low-speed image-processing, realtime sound processing, etc.) 

 

 

--- Quote Start ---  

I hope the A-team aren't too proud to take a look at main competitors offerings. Boards like the ML501 and ML401 offer some really nice features for a fair price, while the S3A starter kit is very good value. 

--- Quote End ---  

 

 

?!? The Xilinx ML series are industrial boards -- minimal example designs and design-support for them. (though I must admit, Xilinx has greatly improved on this area in the past few years.)  

 

 

--- Quote Start ---  

The NIOS dev kits (I have one of those too) are ridiculously expensive for the feature they offer - only 16 MiB!, where is the VGA out, the dual PS/2 in, audio?, etc. 

 

--- Quote End ---  

 

 

No general-purpose board, which sells in high enough volume to be "cheap" is going to please everyone. And no niche-board with exactly the right features for YOU (and no one else) is going to be cheap enough to please the 1-2 customers interested in it. Product engineering is a compromise, like everything else. Just like you had to accept compromises when you decided to buy the Altera boards, knowing it would satisfy only some of your requirements.
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