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 Forum index » DIY Hardware and Software » Microcontrollers and Programmable Logic
FPGA's and Development Boards
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frijitz



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PostPosted: Mon Jan 07, 2008 8:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

State Machine wrote:
Yes, 10 bits would most likely give you enough resolution to accomplish most control tasks with a fine enough granularity. If going with a PIC, then probably the 18F series may be a good choice Very Happy They sport multi channel 10 bit A/D converter.

Yes! I got one of these pretty cool development boards:
http://futurlec.com/PIC18F458_Development_Technical.shtml

Quote:
Here is a good application note explaining a method to multiboot an FPGA that you may be interested to read. I found it to be very useful .... Very Happy Very Happy

Ahhh ... exxxcccellent! Thanks.

Very Happy

Ian
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State Machine
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2008 6:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Quote:
Yes! I got one of these pretty cool development boards:


What is very attractive about this board is the fact that it contains a bootstrap loader so a separate programmer is not required Cool The 10 MIPS performance is impressive also when the x4 PLL is kicked into drive !!!!

How is the board quality? That price is really very good for what you get.

Quote:
Ahhh ... exxxcccellent! Thanks.


I thought you would find that interesting. Very Happy A great way to change the design definition dynamically from the circuit application. Possibly under the guise of a Picoblaze processor or something. I would like to check the Pico out for a future project just to get my feet wet Very Happy

Thanks,
Bill
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frijitz



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PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2008 7:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

State Machine wrote:
What is very attractive about this board is the fact that it contains a bootstrap loader so a separate programmer is not required Cool The 10 MIPS performance is impressive also when the x4 PLL is kicked into drive !!!!

How is the board quality? That price is really very good for what you get.

I haven't hooked it up yet, so I can't give you a good critique. Physically, the board looks very nice. It's hard to know where anything from Futurlec comes from, but the sense I get is that it is from a company in Thailand. That could explain the price. There was some confusion about the chip I got being a variant of the one in the docs, but I wrote them and they said it is OK. The chip has been superceeded, IIRC, but I bought a stash before they went away. So you might want to check that carefully if you want to use the board with a chip other than the one supplied.

Ian
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JovianPyx



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PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2008 12:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Scott Stites wrote:
I suppose such an endeavour would require something greater than 12 bits, but, again, I suppose there's nothing stopping one from adding higher resolution ADC/DAC's to the inputs and outpts of the FPGA, no?

Cheers and thanks for the new forum, electro-music.

Scott

Hey Scott,

Yes, I think most dev boards have some kind of connector for add on logic. In fact, I just remembered - another friend of mine found a company that makes a _bread_board_, both SMT and through-hole that has a 100 pin hirose plug built in. He added a wider DAC to his (which is also the self same board I have). The board was $20 or $30 about a year ago. There are 320 pins on that particular FPGA, not all of them are committed. In fact, the designers of the Starter Kit did something I hate, they shared FPGA pins between the SDRAM and the DAC. So adding a DAC using other FPGA pins drastically uncomplicates using both the SDRAM and the DAC at the same time (like reverb or delay or phasor/phlanger).

And you'd be surprised what you can do with 12 bits. Cool
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JovianPyx



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PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2008 1:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

frijitz wrote:
Can the flash part be removed to pop in different instruments, or does it need to be reprogrammed for that?

Very Happy

Ian


The flash RAM is soldered. It's configurable via the USB. I've reprogrammed 2 of my boards to power up as a synth instead of the Xilinx demo. If I were to build a musical instrument, it wouldn't be much different than the dev board. I'd change the DAC to 16 bits at least and add a BIG static RAM.

I think the platform flash could be socketed - its an SMT thing with about 50 pins. But I think the way it's designed is convenient, at least for a home studio.

The way I change instruments is to use Impact. There's a command line (batch file) interface that lets you simply send the bit file without having to open the sluggish ISE environment program.
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JovianPyx



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PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2008 1:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

State Machine wrote:
I would like to check the Pico out for a future project just to get my feet wet Very Happy


Picoblaze is fun to use. It runs at 25 MIPS on the 3E board. I've written 2 full featured interrupt driven MIDI receiver and synth controllers using about 450 instructions each, one for a monosynth and one for a poly. 450 is about half the space available. You can cram a whole lot in what appears to be a rather small space of 1024 instructions. I added an LCD controller to both and still I used only some 530 instructions each. EDIT-ADD: I forgot - you can also instantiate the PicoBlaze uC more than once - the 3E FPGA can run up to 12 of them simultaneously.
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Blue Hell
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2008 1:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

ScottG wrote:
the 3E FPGA can run up to 12 of them simultaneously.


Shocked not bad Laughing

Is the code space limited by the instruction set?

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JovianPyx



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PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2008 2:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Blue Hell wrote:
Is the code space limited by the instruction set?


Yes, it's a 10 bit address space limited by design. Jump instructions are 10 bit literal, the target cannot be computed though there are conditional jump instructions. For control applications, I find it a very useful instruction set.

If your control requirements are that heavy, you can split the tasks between more than one instance of PicoBlaze. Each instance can posess it's own 1024 location RAM. In fact, 2 instances can _share_ the same RAM. It all depends on how you wire it up. There are many RAM configurations possible.
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Blue Hell
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2008 2:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

ScottG wrote:
If your control requirements are that heavy


No need to think out escape procedures, was just wondering what would be the limiting factor here Very Happy

Another question comes up ...

Would it be possible to change the architecture of the pico blaze a bit? Or more in general, when you get a piece of IP can you change it, or pull out parts for reuse, or is it configurable rather?

I might be interested in doing my own processor, but it would be pretty convenient to be able to use let's say an ALU for instance from an existing design.

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JovianPyx



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PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2008 2:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Blue Hell wrote:
ScottG wrote:
If your control requirements are that heavy


No need to think out escape procedures, was just wondering what would be the limiting factor here Very Happy

Another question comes up ...

Would it be possible to change the architecture of the pico blaze a bit? Or more in general, when you get a piece of IP can you change it, or pull out parts for reuse, or is it configurable rather?

I might be interested in doing my own processor, but it would be pretty convenient to be able to use let's say an ALU for instance from an existing design.


When you use PicoBlaze, you include it's plaintext source code file in your project. It is written in both Verilog and VHDL. So yes you can. But beware, there's pantload of code there.

Then there's this: http://web.lan/Electronics/FPGA/XSOC/
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Blue Hell
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2008 2:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

ScottG wrote:
But beware, there's pantload of code there.


Laughing I know, I did some simple processor simulations in APL in a far away past.

Quote:
http://web.lan/Electronics/FPGA/XSOC/


The link doesn't work for me, same as http://www.fpgacpu.org/xsoc/index.html ?

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JovianPyx



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PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2008 3:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Blue Hell wrote:
Quote:
http://web.lan/Electronics/FPGA/XSOC/

The link doesn't work for me, same as http://www.fpgacpu.org/xsoc/index.html ?


Yes, me a dunno doofus, copied the local link I have that points to my server...
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2008 3:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Ah well, Google knew Very Happy

Thanks ! Have enough answers for a while I guess ...

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2008 5:49 pm    Post subject:
Subject description: Spartan FPGA
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bugfight wrote:
alright, i feel myself getting sucked into the fpga thing now...
but wouldn't the Spartan 3A DSP be better than the 3e for audio applications?


Yes, I believe so. It includes "integrated DSP MACs", it also has more RAM than the 3E. It is a more expensive part though.

Note that Xilinx also recommends the 3E for DSP applications.

The term "better" here really means "bigger applications". How much bigger? [shrug] Lack of integrated MAC technology in the 3E doesn't mean you can't do DSP, it just means you have to "wire up" MACs where you need them.
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bugfight



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PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2008 6:25 pm    Post subject:
Subject description: Spartan FPGA
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ScottG wrote:

...
Yes, I believe so. It includes "integrated DSP MACs", it also has more RAM than the 3E. It is a more expensive part though.
...


thanks for the input!
i decided to go ahead with the 3e, since it's what all the cool kids are using. we'll see how far i can get with it in all my spare time...
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State Machine
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2008 10:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Quote:
The Spartan board requires a downloader cable such as a Multilinx or something to get a bit configuration into the configuration EEPROM


Above is a quote from myself and it was incorrect. The Spartan 3E development board is supplied with a USB cable. There is logic on the board so that the platform flash memory that stores the FPGA's bit configuration can be programmed via USB from your PC using just the cable and IMPACT programming software. NO ADDITIONAL DOWNLOADERS OR PROGRAMMERS ARE REQUIRED TO USE THE BOARD Very Happy

Sorry about the erroneous information ....

Bill
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State Machine
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2008 10:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Quote:
decided to go ahead with the 3e, since it's what all the cool kids are using. we'll see how far i can get with it in all my spare time...


Good choice !!! I should be getting mine in a few days ........ Very Happy

Bill
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2008 11:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

State Machine wrote:
Quote:
decided to go ahead with the 3e, since it's what all the cool kids are using. we'll see how far i can get with it in all my spare time...


Good choice !!! I should be getting mine in a few days ........ Very Happy

Bill


Just to give credit where credit is due, I found out about this board from a Synth-DIY post by Jim Patchell (for whom I have great respect). Then I went to the Southern California SDIY meeting two years ago and he had it there, with the dev software fired up. I knew _nothing_ about FPGAs and very little about digital sound synthesis at the time, but I was so intrigued by what he said about it's capabilities that I knew I had to get one.

I am not formally educated in electronics at all. As has been stated before, there is a learning curve, but I've found most of what I need to know on the internet. One thing I need to do is gather a list of reading material and post it. I will say this, some reasonable understanding of math is required - I will also say that I don't fully understand the math script of digital filter technology (for example), but I was still able to build two different functional digital filters using this material. I was able to understand it at a conceptual level without fully groking the math, but even that is starting to sink in as I continue to play with it.
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2008 11:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Here's a short list...

Verilog tutorial: http://www.asic-world.com/verilog/veritut.html

DSP information: http://www.dspguide.com/

Digital SVF info: http://www.earlevel.com/Digital%20Audio/StateVar.html

Unfortunately, I've been burned enough times by URLs disappearing that I usually collect and store the actual documents instead of bookmarking URLs. But these 3 are some of the most valuable to me.

I have no link to VHDL information since I don't use it, but it's only a Google away.
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State Machine
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2008 12:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

To go along with Scott's fine post. Of course there are other ways to enter designs to describbe your logic. With respect to "HDL's" or Hardware Description Languaages, there is also ABEL (no very popular anymore) and VHDL (Very High Speed Integrated Circuit Hardware Description Language", probably more popular than verilog but that would be a matter of opinion.

Here is a link to a VHDL tutorial. There are tons out there! Just look for a few that work for you. This is just one example.

http://www.seas.upenn.edu/~ese201/vhdl/vhdl_primer.html

Bill
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2008 12:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

State Machine wrote:
To go along with Scott's fine post. Of course there are other ways to enter designs to describbe your logic. With respect to "HDL's" or Hardware Description Languaages, there is also ABEL (no very popular anymore) and VHDL (Very High Speed Integrated Circuit Hardware Description Language", probably more popular than verilog but that would be a matter of opinion.

Here is a link to a VHDL tutorial. There are tons out there! Just look for a few that work for you. This is just one example.

http://www.seas.upenn.edu/~ese201/vhdl/vhdl_primer.html

Bill


I'd never run across ABEL in my web research, is it no longer actively supported? Verilog is more popular in the USA, VHDL is more popular in Europe (so I have read). I imagine this starts in the universities. Both are capable of the same things, just different syntax. I looked at both before deciding on Verilog, I thought it's syntax looked more "friendly". A nice thing about ISE (Xilinx dev program) and I assume/hope other dev programs is that it will work with a random mix of source code files written in VHDL and Verilog. There are idiosyncratic oddities in both.
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Blue Hell
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2008 12:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

State Machine wrote:
there is also ABEL


Shocked Abel still around, wow amazing. I used that like 20 years ago for PAL thingies. I probably wouldn't recognize it anymore though Very Happy

notalgic link

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2008 2:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Quote:
A nice thing about ISE (Xilinx dev program) and I assume/hope other dev programs is that it will work with a random mix of source code files written in VHDL and Verilog. There are idiosyncratic oddities in both.


Yes, I like that. Very Happy You can do a mix of HDL's and Schematic Entry. For readability, it's best to Instantiate the chunks of VHDL or Verilog into block diagram symbols (schematic symbols) then connect all the blocks together into one big readable block diagram. Your design can be hierarchal for readability. I know you know this Scott, this is really for the benefit of others reading

Oh, ABEL was a development from DATA I/O, the hardware programmer company. mainly a textual design description language for small to medium PLD's back though the 80's. ABEL also support the writing of scripts to install in the programmer so that after the chip was programmed, it was functionally tested right in the socket !!! That was pretty cool !! ABEL constructs or syntax are mostly equation based and IF/THAN logic for state machines. It was easy to read and effective for design back them when you did not have 1,000,000 gates. Try doing a Pentium in ABEL ....... Shocked I used the GAL/PAL22V10 devices lots back then and PALASM from AMD, a development tool to write in ABEL and then create the JEDEC files necessary for programming the device.


Bill
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bugfight



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PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2008 2:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

State Machine wrote:
Quote:
decided to go ahead with the 3e, since it's what all the cool kids are using. we'll see how far i can get with it in all my spare time...


Good choice !!! I should be getting mine in a few days ........ Very Happy

Bill


me too, maybe even tomorrow. woohoo!
i figure at that price, even if i just run the available examples it will earn it's keep.
hopefully i'll also be able to contribute something.
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bugfight



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PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2008 2:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

ScottG wrote:

...
Just to give credit where credit is due, I found out about this board from a Synth-DIY post by Jim Patchell (for whom I have great respect).
...


definitely one of the cool kids.
(i'm including you in that group too, of course)

i, on the other hand, was through being cool before devo was...
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