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Altera_Forum
Honored Contributor I
1,136 Views

Updating my FPGA Course

In the near future I will be updating an online Introduction to FPGA course that I teach. This is an introduction course where i spend the first half of the semester covering Verilog. The second half of the class we start putting designs on the board and communicate with the PC.  

 

In the past I've been a Xilinx user and the course ran on the Nexys 2 board. That board has become too expensive. I want to keep the cost down for the students since they are required to purchase all of their own equipment and work from home since this course is online. I am considering a switch to Altera and one of their boards. I have a few questions. 

 

 

  1. It looks like there are 2 boards from Terasic that meet my needs, DE0-Nano and DE0-CV. Looks like CV is brand new and Nano has been around for a while. What is the expected longevity of the Nano? I will students still be able to get it inexpensively for the next few (5) years? Will the CV be replacing this board? 

  2. Neither board mentions UART/RS232. Do they have one or do we need a small RS232/USB board? 

  3. Quartus II has been around for a while. Are there any plans for a big overhaul like Xilinx did when switching to Vivado? 

  4. All of the Terasic daughter boards are pretty expensive. Are there any low cost ones like the Digilent Pmods? Using the Pmods with a Terasic board should be possible, but leads to concerns about wiring them up correctly and requiring the students to also buy the correct jumper wires to connect them. 

 

 

Thanks for you help, 

Phil
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3 Replies
Altera_Forum
Honored Contributor I
36 Views

If 8000 LE are enough for your introductory course, the BeMicro MAX 10 board from Arrow is cheaper than the Terasic boards and has (2) Pmod headers. 

http://www.arrow.com/bemicro/ 

 

In general regarding UART's, if you need a true UART you probably need an off-board adapter (e.g. http://www.digikey.com/product-detail/en/ttl-232r-3v3-2mm/768-1095-nd). But you might be able to get away with the (free) Altera JTAG UART IP core which looks somewhat like a UART in the FPGA, but you need special (Altera) software on the PC to communicate with it. 

 

Regarding board lifetime and Quartus overhaul, you'll probably need to contact the board vendors and Altera directly. You didn't mention "SoC" design, but Altera just dropped it's older SOPC Builder tool and the replacement Qsys is probably here for a while (both tools are installed as part of Quartus).
Altera_Forum
Honored Contributor I
36 Views

Thanks for the link to the BeMicro MAX 10. I am not familiar with that board. 8000 LE is probably enough for the intro course. SoC which I did not mention is a longer term goal. I want to offer and FPGA SoC course as a follow up to this one. The school has yet to agree to this, so I can not say if it will happen or not. The Max 10 looks too small for this topic.  

 

We do not need complete UART functionality, just basic character sending and receiving in a fixed configuration. What are the limitations of this JTAG UART? 

 

Looks like Nios II designs should fit in the Nano and the CV. I would like to set up a follow up course where we use the Nios II, build some custom peripherals, write some custom device drivers and run an RTOS (FreeRTOS or uCOS). Is there anything to be aware of in attempting this on Nano or CV? 

 

Thanks, 

Phil 

 

 

 

--- Quote Start ---  

If 8000 LE are enough for your introductory course, the BeMicro MAX 10 board from Arrow is cheaper than the Terasic boards and has (2) Pmod headers. 

http://www.arrow.com/bemicro/ 

 

In general regarding UART's, if you need a true UART you probably need an off-board adapter (e.g. http://www.digikey.com/product-detail/en/ttl-232r-3v3-2mm/768-1095-nd). But you might be able to get away with the (free) Altera JTAG UART IP core which looks somewhat like a UART in the FPGA, but you need special (Altera) software on the PC to communicate with it. 

 

Regarding board lifetime and Quartus overhaul, you'll probably need to contact the board vendors and Altera directly. You didn't mention "SoC" design, but Altera just dropped it's older SOPC Builder tool and the replacement Qsys is probably here for a while (both tools are installed as part of Quartus). 

--- Quote End ---  

Altera_Forum
Honored Contributor I
36 Views

Hi Phil,  

 

What University do you work for? Altera's BeMicro MAX10 kit is a great option at just $30. Altera also has a course titled "become an FPGA designer in 4 hours". It contains instructions for Cyclone 5 GX starter kit, but this one is more expensive. Altera will soon include a 4 hour fpga design course for the BeMicro MAX 10 kit too.  

 

Training Course: 

http://wl.altera.com/education/training/courses/odswbecome
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