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What is a good starting point for FPGA design?

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May 9, 2001
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What is the good starting point for the FPGA design ?
which tool , which book , which hardware etc.


i think taht you must decito how work, schematic, VHDL or Verilog.
if schematic decide whic family you wold use and try it.
else chek the very good bokks in elektroda for vhdl or verilog


FPGA is dependent on FPGA Vendor

normally, people use major FPGA vendor

1. Xilinx 2. ALTERA 3. ACTEL

and their vendor have their own tool.

Xilinx => foundation 5.1i , foundation 4.1i
altera => Quarus 2.1 , max2plus 10.1
actel => Libero 2.1

sometimes , 3-rd part vendor have better efficency.

sythesis => mentor FPGA advantage ( leonardo)
synplicity synplify_pro
synosys FPGA compiler II
simulation => mentor modesim
aldec active HDL.
todays, almose people use HDL than schematic.
schematic is limit to vendor libraray. but HDL is flexible to vendor.
namely, if you design FPGA with schematic in Altera , it is very hard to
migrate this design to Xilinx FPGA.
but HDL design don't need to consider migration.

so, I suggest use HDL ( verilog or VHDL).
according to my experience , VHDL is good for Hareware design
Verilog is good for simulation.
so, I design HW with VHDL and make test_bench with Verilog.

and about BOOK.
you can see so many many book in this forum and E_book.


WebPack (for Xilinx devices) and Quartus Web Edition (for Altera devices) are free software packages that you can download from the vendor's websites.

I think Libero from Actel has version 2.2
and if you get the license, you will have
SYnplify for Actel as well.

Most of the free download version has gatecount limitation.

FPGA design

I use Modelsim to do the simulation, I think it is good.
I have used different synthesis tools such as Leonardospectrum, synplify pro, FPGAexpress, FPGA compiler, I think Leonardospectrum is not good for the result analysis, FPGA Compiler is good to locate the critical path, Synplify pro is easy to use and is very efficient, I prefer to use Synplify Pro.

Just my own opinion...

Xilinx is good for more flexible FPGA design. Altera has high performance, but more expensive as well.

For VHDL - begin with
A Designers Guide to VHDL by Peter Aschenden
VHDL -Douglas Perry
Digital logic Design with VHDL- Kevin skahil

A book I can recommend for learning VHDL for synthesis is "VHDL for logic synthesis (2nd edition)" by Andrew Rushton.
It also covers testbenches in brief but is more related to writing code for synthesis.
Hope it helped,

I recommand the book, VHDL by Ben Cohen.
It seems to me that the book explains more friendly on Vhdl.
It is good if you read along with Ashedan's book.
That is how I did it.

Some good tutorials - Esperan from esperan.
Evita from aldec

Make a board yourself !


For Lattice devices you can download design software tools from Lattice site. You can also get free limited license. This is enough for begining. If you need only less complex Lattice devices or SPLDs this is very good solution.

I think you can learn to use FPGAdvantage. It's a series softwares of pld. It include the code writer(can use hdl,sch,flow chart,state true table,diagram),simulate and synthesis tools.

FPGA-Advantage (from Mentor Graphics) is a front end FPGA design tool. It incorporates Leonardo-Spectrum synthesis, Modesim simulator tool and HDL designer. In addition one needs a separate back end tool. That is the vendor specific place and route tool.

An interesting option is the zero-cost flow (in tools) 8) .

1) editing, completly up to you but em@cs for Win/Unix is the best for me, is free and includes VHDL/Verilog menu.
2) Simulation, Models!m XE/Starter 5.6a (or the latest), downloadable from X!l!nx site, it's bloody slow but does the job and it's free.
3) Synthesis, ISE which is free includes XST (X!l!nx Synthesis Tool), not very reliable yet but quite improved in 5.1 sp3.
Also in synthesis if you re targeting @lter - @ devices you get for free Leon@rdo Spectrum from the @lter - @ website, no RTL view but full functionality.
4) Build, ISE - Webpack is free downloadable from X!l!nx supports most of the devices, not all of them (read notes).
5) Download image, Imp@ct for X!l!nx and similar for @lter-@, L@ttice... are generally free included with the front end tool.

It would be interesting to get a free version of S-y-n-pli-fy with reduced functionality but something.

For some small companies which can't afford several licenses this is an interesting flow.


I use FPGAAdvantage...

My only FPGA is ALTERA....
I use FPGAAdvantage and MAX2PLUS both...
I think it's easy and fast....

I think


I think if you starts with FPGA Design the best development line is:

Translogic Ease/Eale (for VHDL input), ModelSim (for Simulation), Synplify (for Syntesis) and Quartus (for Programming).
I'm using the tools for a long time at work and I think you can very good start with them!


i use altera's FPGA and maxplusII 10.2.
maxplusII may be the easies tools to
develop altera's FPGA.


where can i get many good E-book about FPGA design?

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