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Altera_Forum
Honored Contributor I
1,555 Views

Help choosing an FPGA

Hi, 

 

in the next month I have to start my final degree project which consists on programming a RISC-V in VHDL language. I'm confused on what FPGA I should choose. My bugdet is about $1000-$1500 due to I'm going to do this project in a company and they also want to use this FPGA in a nearly future for another projects related with processors or code acceleration. I'm pretty new on that world because in my last project I programmed a 16-bit RISC architecture but the university bringed me the Cyclone II EP2C20F484C7 so I didn't have to think on what FPGA should I use. Also if it have some memory controller would allow me to save much time. 

 

 

Thank you so much and I'm sorry if there are some grammatical errors, 

 

 

Joel
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9 Replies
Altera_Forum
Honored Contributor I
58 Views

With the memory controller requirement, I'd recommend Cyclone V or Arria V, at least, which include hard memory controllers for performance. You don't mention which memory standard you need to support. If it's DDR4, you have to move up to Arria 10.

Altera_Forum
Honored Contributor I
58 Views

Dear, 

For your requirement, you have to proceed with cyclone V. This is much enough for you. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

--- Quote Start ---  

Hi, 

 

in the next month I have to start my final degree project which consists on programming a RISC-V in VHDL language. I'm confused on what FPGA I should choose. My bugdet is about $1000-$1500 due to I'm going to do this project in a company and they also want to use this FPGA in a nearly future for another projects related with processors or code acceleration. I'm pretty new on that world because in my last project I programmed a 16-bit RISC architecture but the university bringed me the Cyclone II EP2C20F484C7 so I didn't have to think on what FPGA should I use. Also if it have some memory controller would allow me to save much time. 

 

 

Thank you so much and I'm sorry if there are some grammatical errors, 

 

 

Joel 

--- Quote End ---  

Altera_Forum
Honored Contributor I
58 Views

 

--- Quote Start ---  

With the memory controller requirement, I'd recommend Cyclone V or Arria V, at least, which include hard memory controllers for performance. You don't mention which memory standard you need to support. If it's DDR4, you have to move up to Arria 10. 

--- Quote End ---  

 

 

Thanks to both of you who responded. 

 

Due to the price of Arria V I will choose Cyclone V, but I have some questions related to their features, if someone can answer me I would be pleased. 

First of all I see that are so many differents models for Arria V and I want to know how can I know what FPGA will fit better with my processor and what parameters should I compare. Should I look into the difference between Adaptive logic modules (ALMs) or Equivalent logic elements (LEs)? I got some confusion looking that because Cyclone II, which I used for my last project,got thousands of logic elements and this models only has hundreds, did ALM work as LE? 

 

The memory standard I will support will be DDR, I don't know yet if DDR3 or DDR4. Also, I have to program a L2 cache use in the RISC-V project. 

 

How can I know what model to choose of Cyclone V, not onnly about ALM or LE, because it also have different transceiver speed and I don't really know how to deal with that. 

 

Thank you, 

 

 

Joel
Altera_Forum
Honored Contributor I
58 Views

Are you also going to design a PCB? If not, I would suggest taking a look at dev boards. See their resources and that might narrow down your target fpga.

Altera_Forum
Honored Contributor I
58 Views

 

--- Quote Start ---  

Are you also going to design a PCB? If not, I would suggest taking a look at dev boards. See their resources and that might narrow down your target fpga. 

--- Quote End ---  

 

 

Thanks for your help. I'm not going to design a PCB so I do what you suggested and looked for a development board, I see some kits, but they are too cheap ($130) and I don't know if they didn't have what I'm looking for, also I found this: 

 

https://www.altera.com/products/boards_and_kits/dev-kits/altera/kit-cyclone-v-soc.html#devkit 

 

I think it will be perfect to test my RISC-V and some other projects in the future, as you can see I don't have so much experience buying FPGAs so if you could tell me that this is the device I should use, I would appreciate it. 

 

Edit: I have been reading some posts and I'm getting more and more confused about how to use SoC and FPGA. My RISC-V will be programmed in VHDL language so I will have to load it into the FPGA hardware, because the SoC can't be programmed, right? I understand that SoC is used to run some software program and it can get more resources using FPGA circuits, or am I wrong? If this is true, in the case I need only a FPGA to test my RISC-V I should buy some FPGA without SoC, but if i want to use that FPGA for running some programms i should buy one with SoC, right? 

 

 

Thank you, 

 

 

Joel.
Altera_Forum
Honored Contributor I
58 Views

A SoC (system on chip) contains both an FPGA and one or more processors on the same chip. This does not mean you need to use the processor, you can leave it unconnected to your hardware, the only thing you need to check is where the peripheralsare connected to. If, for example, you want to use leds, it might be that they are connected to the processor and not to the FPGA part of the chip. I have no experience with Altera SoCs but there might be some trickery you can do to control the CPU peripherals from the FPGA part. But why not create your design first? then you get an estimate of the resources needed, and you can select the chip you need based on those numbers.

Altera_Forum
Honored Contributor I
58 Views

 

--- Quote Start ---  

A SoC (system on chip) contains both an FPGA and one or more processors on the same chip. This does not mean you need to use the processor, you can leave it unconnected to your hardware, the only thing you need to check is where the peripheralsare connected to. If, for example, you want to use leds, it might be that they are connected to the processor and not to the FPGA part of the chip. I have no experience with Altera SoCs but there might be some trickery you can do to control the CPU peripherals from the FPGA part. But why not create your design first? then you get an estimate of the resources needed, and you can select the chip you need based on those numbers. 

--- Quote End ---  

 

 

Thanks for replying.  

 

I will program the RISC-V and estimate the resources needed using Quartus, I don't want to disturb but I have some doubts.  

 

I will have to program L1 and L2 caches and my doubt about that is if I will have to use FPGAs memory or if I can reprogram ARM Cortex-A9 (the processor what SoC FPGAs have) or if I can use some of his memory like cache L1? 

 

 

Thanks you so much.
Altera_Forum
Honored Contributor I
58 Views

I don't think you can access the caches, but ask on the SoC part of this forum.

Altera_Forum
Honored Contributor I
58 Views

 

--- Quote Start ---  

I don't think you can access the caches, but ask on the SoC part of this forum. 

--- Quote End ---  

 

 

Thank you so much for the help.
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