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Looking for a free project kit emulator

BrownBear1968

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Please consider a hypothetical software with two sections:
  • The first one being a copy of an IDE, like ISE, Vivado, or Quartus with at least two windows: edit code window and processes (synthesize, implement, generate bitstream, etc) window
  • And the second one, below the first one, with a virtual board, trying to copy some known pattern, like basys, spatan, DE-2, etc with all their stuff (leds, switches, buttons, etc)

Before covid we already faced financial restrictions, enough to say that even the little low-cost kits were not possible to afford.
Now, besides this, we need to pass to the students some knowledge of VHDL, but above the simulation level. Something more exciting like dealing with boards.
So, I am looking for some free project with such idea.

Do you guys know if there exists such software?
Regards
 

barry

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It’s not clear what you’re looking for. You talk about boards and then you ask if there’s software.
 

BrownBear1968

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Hi, berry,

I am looking for a free (belonging to a free project) software which has a development board emulator (the second section).
 

danadakk

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There is a free version of Quartus Prime, Lite version, for IDE and a starter version
of ModelSim .....



Regards, Dana.
 

FvM

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I doubt that there are any ready to use emulator applications, free or commercial. You can write your own app and link it to the simulator utilizing the foreign programming language interface.
 

BrownBear1968

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It’s not clear what you’re looking for. You talk about boards and then you ask if there’s software.
There is a free version of Quartus Prime, Lite version, for IDE and a starter version
of ModelSim .....



Regards, Dana.
Dear barry and dana, many thanks for your feedback.

I will post here two pictures to better describe what I am looking for.
The first one I call the common environment for work with FPGAs and the second one is the software that I am looking for.







Best regards
 

BrownBear1968

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I doubt that there are any ready to use emulator applications, free or commercial. You can write your own app and link it to the simulator utilizing the foreign programming language interface.
Thanks FvM, I was think about such thing due to the huge advances Proteus already made. We draw a complete microprocessor system inside that tool!

And I am struggling to provide VHDL classes more atractively than only simulations. But we are facing huge restrictions in terms of financial resources.
Providing an emulator environment, students could realize how great and flexible works can be done with FPGAs.
--- Updated ---

There are some wonderful projects like LabsLand (https://labsland.com/en/labs/fpga-llstd1). By few dollars per student/year they can remotely program, remotely press (virtual) buttons, check led status, display messages, etc on popular FPGA development kits. But you see: these are real boards, remotely controlled by an interface which is provided to the community. They can easily reach an allocation overflow of remotely classes.

So, an environment with an emulator would be the top solution for me, or, who knows, for a lot of people who are facing problems like mine.

Regards
--- Updated ---

I that not writing a test bench for the board ?


Regards, Dana.
Sorry Dana, I didn't understand you question.
 
Last edited:

dpaul

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Nice idea. Unfortunately I am unware if such a thing exists!
All undergraduate EE labs have them and students who can afford about $80 con buy their own dev board. But in the era of Covid restrictions and online classes, it would be excellent to have an FPGA dev board emulator.
I think you can take up this idea directly with Xilinx or Intel(Altrea) or Microchip(Microsemi), using the official channels. Probably they will like the idea and may partner up with interested start-ups to build and deliver a board-emulator in the near future.
 

TrickyDicky

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The problem is the Xilinx and Altera (and other manufactoruers) bitfiles are propretary and so couldnt be decoded. It would also emulate extremly slow (you're using an FPGA to accellerate what would have been slow in a CPU!).
Then theres the problem that developing such an emulator would probably be more costly than just buying a dev board.

I can see the problem, but maybe you could create a project to run on the cheaper dev boards, which are cheap (as dpaul suggested).
 
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