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Need Help for Newbie Questions about FPGA & VHDL

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innovationhut

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newbie

Hi,

I am a newbie to the world of FPGA. I do have some experience with the micro controllers, but now I want to work with FPGA and VHDL.

I have some questions if somebody can answer them.

1: What is the best way to start learning FPGA and VHDL.
2: What is the difference between VHDL and Verilog.
3: Where Can I get information or source for a "HELLO WORLD" project in FPGA.


Thanks in advance
 

farhada

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Re: newbie

1 - Buy a cheap FPGA board and start coding in VHDL there are 100s of nice tutorials on the web you can use for learning VHDL.

2 - The same difference it is between French and English :) 2 different languages

3 - Helllo world is a bit tricky for a FPGA. Sure you can do it but that is not the best way to learn how FPGAs work.

FPGA is not SW, you may think of something more HW related like blinking an LED or changing the LED based on the input of a switch or something like that.
 

bigdogguru

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1. IMHO, buy a nice board from a reputable company. The cost is usually only a few dollars more than a fly-by-night firm, but a well documented development board with good support can mean the difference between an enjoyable learning experience and an exercise in frustation.

Digilent - Great company academic pricing on several FPGA boards

KNJN - Neat Little Company with FPGA Development Boards for as little as $50

Digilent boards are my favorite, they manufacture many of Xilinx's official dev boards, they also have a wide range of inexpensive add on modules.

2. There are a lot of comparisons of VHDL and Verilog on the net:

Comparison of C, VHDL and Verilog

TechOnline Paper

Farhada is absolutely right, they are as different as night and day. Personal preference is probably a major factor in your selection of a language of choice.

3.Farhada is correct again, this simple program is quite complex to implement on a FPGA. However, several Digilent boards have a "Hello World" program as a test program precompiled into a bit format for direct download into the FPGA. Understanding its complexity can be a future goal.

Digilent Spartan 3E Starter Board

Hope these tips and opinions help in your quest.
 

innovationhut

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Thanks for your help:


Is there any good book that you can recommend for the beginner ?
Can I import a Xilin FPGA design to Altera?
 

bigdogguru

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I have an extensive library however IMHO these are two excellent VHDL oriented textbooks to get you started:

Circuit Design with VHDL - An absolutely fantastic book for just a few $$

FPGA Prototyping by VHDL Examples: Xilinx Spartan-3 Version

Start with Pedroni's book, Amazon's current price $28.40! After you master Pedroni, Chu will take you to the next level.

There are several good websites, besides edaboard.com of course, which specialize in FPGA design and programming:

FPGA4Fun - Good beginner site

OpenCores - More Advanced IP Projects

Download the free versions of the development software:

Xilinx's ISE Webpack

Altera's Quartus Web Edition

And yes, both verilog and VHDL are portable across Xilinx and Altera FPGAs. However keep in mind there have been many different standards released over the recent decade and not all design tools support the latest features and revisions, 2008 for VHDL. I've concentrated on VHDL, because frankly that is what I'm most familiar with and my language of choice.

That should keep you busy!
 

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