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Need experienced suggestion regarding FPGA based processing board

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syedshan

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Dear all,

We have to start our project from next semester and for that we have to find suitable processing board etc. with the following characteristics required. I am myself looking as well for this, but frankly this is my first time so I am little hesitant as well, since things will cost enough budget and there is less chance of error(almost close none, frankly coz of deadline as well)

An FPGA board that supports ethernet output. The ethernet output must be given to Zigbee wifi for wireless transmission.
The board must support ADC with sampling rate over 5-10 Msps. The board should consume less power as possible, (since we are using energy harvesting and not conventional power sources).
The size of board is also considerable, i.e. it should be as small as possible, since it has to fix on the running machine
Any suggestion, if not the exact thing is also welcome.

Bests,
Shan
 

shaiko

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I'm not sure if a board matching your description exists...I suggest you build one yourself - i.e assemble your product from individual interconnected modules.
try sparkfun.com for individual modules.
 

syedshan

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Dear Sheikh,

Thanks that was really helpful but I could not find the items that I required, though I found zigbee, but the individual zigbee module is already with us, but any ways, thanks for that, at least it gives me more idea.

Bests,
Shan
 

syedshan

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Hi,

We do not have any PC, only the module I am talking about, the PC is on the other side of wireless channel which is not difficult part of project, A

Well I find digilent more better and still looking their site for much suitable part.
We also need Ethernet communication, do you have any idea over it, which thing is better, FPGA or u-controller(if possible through it)


Bests,
Shan
 

shaiko

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a u-controller is easier if you wan't to get things working fast. FPGA's allow more flexibility/integration at the cost of development and verification time...
Try PIC/AVR/MSP430/8051 micro-controllers for the fastest project bring-ups.
 

joelby

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I think you might struggle to run most FPGAs from any sort of energy harvesting device (unless it's a wind turbine or nuclear fission power plant)

Rather than outputting Ethernet, you can talk to XBee Wi-Fi devices using SPI and UART serial. This only requires a couple of general purpose I/O pins.

A microcontroller will probably be far easier to do this sort of project with, though your high speed ADC might be a bit of a problem. What exactly are you planning to do with the 5-10 Msps? Transmit them all over Wi-Fi in raw form, or will you be doing some signal processing?
 

syedshan

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That was really helpful from both of you guys,
What exactly are you planning to do with the 5-10 Msps? Transmit them all over Wi-Fi in raw form, or will you be doing some signal processing?
.
We plan to transmit raw data initially, if every thing works fine, then we can do processing on FPGA(if use) if not, then processing will be on the other end of system(i.e. in PC)

I saw at different forums, and found that Xbee is little slow, since we are in finalizing phase, we can change it, any alternative

Well what micro-controller do you suggest, PIC gives us 250ksps and I intend to us it since I have prior experience. Is there some controller-ADC pair in your knowledge (like xilinx fpgas + Texas instrument ADC(s) pairs ^^).

I think we will be using maximum within 200 Khz of adc sampling (about 5-10-Mhz-thing since these are the specs of ADCs, not what we want, they are too highly rated for our part of sampling).

One more thing(about FPGA), I think if we take SOLE FPGA, then can we use soldering etc. to make the circuit, or do we have to do for delicate looking, highly precised PCB board designs...? pardon me if this is too elementary

Bests,
 

joelby

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You'd have to read the specs but I suspect that most inexpensive radio modules with SPI or serial interfaces may not run well at a sustained 10 megabytes/sec. I haven't personally used the Xbee Wi-Fi.

I've used Xilinx FPGAs with Linear Technologies ADCs and they work fine. Anything with a compatible electrical standard should work, though that's not to say it'll be easy.

If 250 Ksps is sufficient, then a PIC + Xbee would be a pretty simple combination - you should be able to get raw data transmission working within a few hours.

Don't use a more advanced ADC than what you need for the sake of it. Interfacing with a 10 MSPS ADC with a parallel or LVDS interface will be considerably harder than one with an SPI interface.

Some of the smaller FPGAs have hand-solderable (TQFP) packages. Unless you have loads of time in which to complete the project, I would seriously consider using off the shelf development boards rather than trying to design boards with FPGAs on them. They are considerably more complicated to use and lay out than a PIC, due to their multiple voltage requirements, bypass requirements, signal integrity concerns, etc. Look very carefully at your power budget, too.
 

syedshan

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Hi every one again

Shaiko and Joelby, Thank you for your help

I have been finalizing the thing for my project. One big mistake that I made was that I thought the 1Khz was signal frequency, actually that was the scanning frequency for our system, and the maximum
frequency of the signal is 1MhZ.
Now we have find the board suitable to our need here, I am using Xylo-LM (just in case you want to see )
of course we are looking for much better since its ADC is 8-bit only.

Now that it is almost finalized that we would use FPGA rather than using micro-controller, since we need at-least > 5Mhz sampling frequency (simply greater than Nyquist theorem, any suggestion!!!)
So what it looks like is that I will use FPGA to integrate ADC, and FPGA is Spartan 3E.
Do you have the idea about using this pair...

Hope 'am not getting much of a head-ache, just need suggestion and experiences... :)

Bests,
Shan
 

joelby

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There shouldn't be any problem with using the Xylo-LM and the Flashy-D together, as they're designed to be used with each other.

However if you still want to transmit raw data, bear in mind that the Xylo-LM only seems to have 10base-T Ethernet, which has a theoretical maximum speed of 1 MB/s (at 8 bit, 5 MSPS is 5 MB/s).
 
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