Buying a FPGA BoardRobert Thomas
A Field-Programmable Gate Array or FPGA is basically an integrated circuited that is configurable by a user post manufacturing. The configuration of an FPGA is usually specified by a HDL (Hardware Description Language) comparable to those which are used in ASICs (Application Specific Integrated Circuits). Historically, FPGAs have been used for applications where the production volume is relatively small.
FPGAs have a system of logic blocks as well as reconfigurable interconnects allowing for the wiring together of blocks. These logic blocks are programmable to solve complicated combinational functions as well as simple AND or XOR logic gates.
FPGAs have substantial available logic gates as well as RAM that help in solving digital computations. They can also be used to quicken parts of an algorithm and share part of the result with the FPGA itself and a processor. Learn more at Direct Components Inc – Altera.
What to Look for When Buying Your First FPGA Board
Purchasing your first FPGA board can be an intimidating task especially in deciding the appropriate starting point and making sure you have all the required tools to help you learn as you progress. Below, is a a guide that you can use to first select the best vendor for your FPGA board, then choosing the right group of chips and finally concluding which development board is best suited for your needs.
Perhaps the first item on the list is narrowing down to the right vendor for your FPGA board. Among the critical considerations that will go into making this decision is the tool chain offered. Irrespective of the fact that most manufacturers provide an entire tool chain, all users have a difference of opinion when it comes to best tool chain for them. You can download software tools via various manufacturers to experiment with and decide on the best tool chain for you.
Once the kind of software tool is decided, you can further use the manufacturers website to have a look at a complete list of FPGA solutions provided by them. You can enter the information of your design into any of the software tools to get an idea on the type of resources your FPGA chip would most likely need to have. The information from this exercise will go a long way in deciding the size and family of the chip your project requires.
As part of a normal practice, vendors segregate their offerings by breaking them into multiple families. Some of the parameters that can most likely help in deciding the right FPGA chip for you include – 1) Sizeof RAM2) Input and Output interfaces3) Package size4) Temperature of operation5) Total number of multiplier blocks or DSPs 6) Speed grade of device?) Density of device and8) Input and Output pin count
The HDL code can be of immense help here since software tools can identify whether or not the the code is compatible with the chosen device.
Selecting the right development board is the next step to look at when buying your first FPGA board. Development boards are a circuited board containing on-board hardware and circuitry that can help with experimenting with an assigned chip. The advantage is that these save time from repetitive tasks
Before choosing the right development board for your purpose, it is helpful to make a list of the most likely features you might need. Generally, FPGAs are ideally suited when partnered with peripherals with significant speeds. Also, it is generally easier to purchase a board already containing the required part than buying and attempting to add it later on.
As you can probably imagine, FPGAs are a fairly elaborate and complex device. Therefore, in order to use a development board to create a project, it is critical to have an understanding of how the various interfaces and different types of hardware has been wired. It is the reason why most manufacturers include accurate legends and labeling on their boards indicating each of the interfaces. However, despite this, tracing the wiring device can, at times, prove to be a little difficult. It is, therefore, a good habit to confirm that a detailed schematic diagram is provided by the manufacturer along with a complete reference manual, a starting guide, a set of reference designs as well as sample codes