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Linux on a BeMicro SDK

Linux on a BeMicro SDK

This example design is a slight modification of the default FPGA design provided with the BeMicro SDK. It has been updated to include a NIOSII/F with MMU, a TLB memory (required for use with the MMU), and the SDCard interface was changed to use the slower SPI interface for expediencies sake.

Please note that this is purely provided as an example. I strongly urge that you read all of linux related documentation on the AlteraWiki for information regarding building both a SOPC Builder system that meets the requirements for running Linux on the NIOSII, as well as building the linux image.

A good starting point is Linux for the Nios II Processor which covers the NIOSII Linux build flow supported on the AlteraWiki.

For more information on the BeMicro SDK, please refer to BeMicro SDK


10/05/2011 Now Qsys version is available.

10/05/2011 Now CentOS5.4 virtual PC image is available for quick start.


As I mentioned above, the design is only a slight modification of the original BeMicro SDK hardware. Below is a screenshot of the added TLB memory with procesor interface.

CPU_with_TLB_memory.png (Click here for image)

In the diagram above you will also notice that the BeMicro SDK uses a Mobile DDR controller. This controller is provided by Microtonix, and evaluation for the IP core can be requested from the following link ( A license is required to recompile the design, however I have provided a precompiled SOF with the project.


A precompiled image is provided with the files in the download section. To run the design, please follow these steps.

  1. Program the FPGA via quartus or the command line
  2. In an NIOSII Shell, change directory to the path with the precompiled image (zImage.initramfs.gz)
  3. Run the nios2-download command, and open a nios2-terminal : (nios2-download -g zImage.initramfs.gz; nios2-terminal)

The Linux prompt will appear after the boot messages. To bring up the ethernet interface, type "ifconfig eth0 up". The default system does start telnet. Please choose an ip address appropriate to your network.

Currently the following hardware is supported in the precompiled image:

  • Altera Triple Speed Ethernet MAC
  • EPCS Flash interface
  • SDCard interface using SPI mode (The original design used a core provided by SLS which is much faster. )
  • Various User I/O

Virtual-PC image

The Virtual-PC image contains

  • CentOS5.4
  • Quartus 9.0 and NIOS-II SBT 9.0
  • uClinux build tool chain
  • BeMicroSDK Qsys version board layer setting file

The file is about 29GByte, so it will take a time to download this file.

Password of root: password

User: nios2  Password: altera

For more details, please read readme.txt in the folder.

CentOS5.4_BeMicroSDK_Qsys.vmdk    md5sum: b618e4ce63a25aa58a683d2866d1c179     filesize: 29,146,349,568 bytes


  • SOPC version File:BeMicroSDK MMU.tgz
  • Qsys version is here:
  • Virtual PC image for development environment is here:


You are free to use this design in any way you like. If you want to contibute to this project feel free to do so. I'm providing this design as is and Altera will not be supporting it.

Side Note

The hardware project for this system is also provided in the NiosII Linux git repo via board.git . Please refer to the following for more information Git Server

Version history
Last update:
‎06-24-2019 08:47 PM
Updated by: