Friday, December 3, 2010

Altera Cyclone II, III, IV Development Kits

Altera Cyclone II FPGA evaluation board
This board is new and has almost every connection type available.

Altera Cyclone III - BeMicro Eval Kit - Arrow
This board is new and is essentially a closed hardware system with LED indicators for debugging.
I purchased this one at the same time as the (4-hour training + kit) based one below. So far I am half-way through the lab and it seems to be working fine.
This is the one in the photo on the Altera site - without ethernet

Altera Cyclone IV - BeMicro SDK Kit with Ethernet - Arrow
This kit comes used, but it includes an SD card slot and an ethernet connector (Which the eval kit above lacks)

I picked up my kit in person from an Arrow Inc. sales office. I will run this one through the same tutorial.

1) FTDI driver outdated - The Quartus II 9.1 software attempts to downgrade the FTDI driver that I also use for my Parallax Propeller boards. Keep backup copies of the original "newer" drivers around.
2) Driver signing - No Windows 7 64-bit support, Windows 7 32-bit drivers are unsigned - requiring an F8 boot.  I pulled up one of my old XP tablets to run the labs - the driver installed fine there.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Xilinx Spartan 3-AN FPGA Development Board

Today we work the opposite end of the hardware design spectrum (all the way from pure TTL logic) by starting to use our recently delivered FPGA evaluation kit from Xilinx Inc. - the Spartan 3 AN.

Before we can use this FPGA chip and the associated software we wish that some of the VHDL and Verilog courses in Computer and Systems were taken by this Computer Science graduate.
We will also see how the dev kits from Altera and Actel compare to the Xilinx kit.