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Getting started VHDL, VHDL for Dummies, Easy Steps for FPGA experiments

Started by Kutaj Vamor September 25, 2005
Dear FPGA and VHDL Experts,

I am new to FPGA and VHDL. I would like to learn VHDL and start 
experimenting FPGA. I beleive I learn faster and better by experimenting.
What would you recommend for beginners like me to getting started with VHDL 
and FPGA experimentation ?
Which SW (for WinXP and/or Fedora Linux ) for VHDL?
Which start-up experimentation board for FPGA?
Which URL, books etc for easy to start experiment?

Many thanks for your help.

Kutaj Vamor





On Sun, 25 Sep 2005 19:33:27 +1000, "Kutaj Vamor" <kv> wrote:

>Dear FPGA and VHDL Experts, > >I am new to FPGA and VHDL. I would like to learn VHDL and start >experimenting FPGA. I beleive I learn faster and better by experimenting. >What would you recommend for beginners like me to getting started with VHDL >and FPGA experimentation ? >Which SW (for WinXP and/or Fedora Linux ) for VHDL? >Which start-up experimentation board for FPGA? >Which URL, books etc for easy to start experiment? > >Many thanks for your help. >
Go to http://www.fpga4fun.com/ . They have a number of tutorials and cheap development boards. Regards Anton Erasmus
Hi Kutaj,

I recommend downloading free Xilinx ISE WebPACK design software from 
Xilinx since at least Xilinx gives you a very slow HDL simulator 
(ModelSim XE-Starter) unlike Altera, Actel, or Lattice.
I believe ModelSim XE-Starter supports Windows only, so I recommend 
sticking to Windows for the time being.
I also recommend learning Verilog instead of VHDL because Verilog is
lighter and simpler language than VHDL. (VHDL is a "heavier" language 
than Verilog in my opinion.)
         I know there are many different ways to learn HDL and FPGA, but 
one method I recommend doing is to attach your FPGA to a desktop 
computer via PCI bus, and experiment with the FPGA.
I myself tried learning HDL (Verilog and VHDL) reading books written 
about them, but it didn't work out because either the examples in the 
books were too short, boring (Like traffic light or vending machine 
state machine example often used in HDL books.), or wasn't something 
large enough like accessing an FPGA from a computer.
I always thought that attaching one's own FPGA to a desktop computer 
will be an interesting project, so developed my own PCI interface to do 
so, and in the process, I learned Verilog HDL. (Learned VHDL later by 
porting Verilog HDL code to VHDL.)
PCI bus is a fairly complex bus (PCI Express is even worse.) which is 
certainly intimidating for FPGA beginners, but the use of a PCI IP 
(Intellectual Property) core can largely solve the problem, allowing the 
FPGA beginner to concentrate on the user logic behind the PCI bus.
         BDS XPCI PCI IP core is a Xilinx (TM) LogiCORE (TM) PCI 
compatible (replacement) PCI IP core developed by Brace Design Solutions.
BDS XPCI32 PCI IP core is available for as little as $100 for
non-commercial, non-profit, personal use, and the same 64-bit version
BDS XPCI64 PCI IP core (Includes BDS XPCI32 PCI IP core) goes for $200.
Since the pricing starts at only $100, it is ideal for HDL learners, 
FPGA beginners, FPGA hobbyists, computer hardware enthusiasts, or 
student graduation projects.
BDS XPCI PCI IP core comes with a PCI testbench for Verilog HDL which 
allows the user to simulate the design extensively on an HDL simulator 
like ModelSim before firing up the FPGA.
VHDL support is currently poor, but VHDL porting of reference designs 
and PCI testbench should be available in a month.
BDS XPCI PCI IP core officially supports the following PCI boards.

- Insight Electronics Spartan-II 150 PCI (Already discontinued)

- Insight Electronics Spartan-II 200 PCI Development Kit
http://www.memec.com/uploaded/SpartanII200PCI.pdf


BDS XPCI PCI IP core "unofficially" supports the following PCI boards.

- Avnet Xilinx Spartan-3 Evaluation Kit
http://www.em.avnet.com/evk/home/0,1719,RID%253D0%2526CID%253D7816%2526CCD%253DUSA%2526SID%253D4742%2526DID%253DDF2%2526SRT%253D1%2526LID%253D18806%2526PVW%253D%2526BID%253DDF2%2526CTP%253DEVK,00.html
http://www.em.avnet.com/ctf_shared/evk/df2df2usa/Xilinx%20Spartan-3%20Evaluation%20Kit%20-%20Brief%20022504F.pdf

- Enterpoint Broaddown2 Development Board
http://www.enterpoint.co.uk/moelbryn/broaddown2.html


So with BDS XPCI PCI IP core, almost anyone can make their own PCI 
device for about $400 to $500. ($300 to $400 for the board + $100 for 
BDS XPCI32 PCI IP core)
For commercial users who want to modify a Xilinx LogiCORE PCI or want to
convert a design that uses Xilinx LogiCORE PCI to an ASIC (FPGA to ASIC
conversion), BDS XPCI PCI IP core is also available in Verilog HDL RTL.
For more information, visit Brace Design Solutions website at
http://www.bracedesignsolutions.com.


Kevin Brace


Kutaj Vamor wrote:

> Dear FPGA and VHDL Experts, > > I am new to FPGA and VHDL. I would like to learn VHDL and start > experimenting FPGA. I beleive I learn faster and better by experimenting. > What would you recommend for beginners like me to getting started with VHDL > and FPGA experimentation ? > Which SW (for WinXP and/or Fedora Linux ) for VHDL? > Which start-up experimentation board for FPGA? > Which URL, books etc for easy to start experiment? > > Many thanks for your help. > > Kutaj Vamor > > > > >
-- Brace Design Solutions Xilinx (TM) LogiCORE (TM) PCI compatible BDS XPCI PCI IP core available for as little as $100 for non-commercial, non-profit, personal use. http://www.bracedesignsolutions.com Xilinx and LogiCORE are registered trademarks of Xilinx, Inc.
Kutaj,

Lattice offers the free "ispLEVER-Starter" package for PCs at
www.latticesemi.com. It provides several modules to download Lattice
implementation tools including Precision RTL or Synplify logic
synthesis for Lattice FPGAs.

After you've studied a VHDL text book, I'd recommend the User Guides
from the respective logic synthesis vendors. These will provide
practical examples and style guidelines to write good RTL.

Cheers,
Troy Scott
Lattice Semiconductor

Another option for a Spartan 3 board can be found at 
www.dulseelectronics.com.  There are also a number of tutorials there for 
beginning with Xilinx ISE Webpack.

Philip Nowe
"Kutaj Vamor" <kv> wrote in message 
news:43366eea$0$21885$afc38c87@news.optusnet.com.au...
> Dear FPGA and VHDL Experts, > > I am new to FPGA and VHDL. I would like to learn VHDL and start > experimenting FPGA. I beleive I learn faster and better by experimenting. > What would you recommend for beginners like me to getting started with > VHDL and FPGA experimentation ? > Which SW (for WinXP and/or Fedora Linux ) for VHDL? > Which start-up experimentation board for FPGA? > Which URL, books etc for easy to start experiment? > > Many thanks for your help. > > Kutaj Vamor > > > > >