FPGA for beginners
A field-programmable gate array (FPGA) is an integrated circuit designed to be configured by a customer or a designer after manufacturing – hence the term “field-programmable”.
The FPGA configuration is generally specified using a hardware description language (HDL), similar to that used for an Application-Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC). Circuit diagrams were previously used to specify the configuration, but this is increasingly rare due to the advent of electronic design automation tools.
FII was founded on making FPGA technology more approachable for students or FPGA beginners to learn. We partnered with the world leader and founder of modern day FPGA technology, Altera and Xilinx, to create platforms that were ideally suited for learning.
Below are boards that we recommend for beginning users. These boards have course material, books, and tutorials to get you started!
The advantage of FPGA beginner study board:
- Beginner FPGA study board, cheaper but fully functional. cellphone sized. ( < 100 USD )
- power supply and download at the same time, no extra power supply and no extra data transfer line needed
- Small volume and light and can be put into your pocket. size: 10cm X 7 cm.
- Unique function: can be a study board as well a multifunctional JTAG downloader.
- We use newest version Intel FPGA within two years and you can always keep in the front of FPGA industry.
Altera FPGA Study Board Hardware Resources：
- 6 seven_seg_r
- VGA Video Interface × 1
- 1G Ethernet Interface × 1
- I2C EEPROM × 1
- DIP Switch × 8
- Controllable LED light × 8
- Photoresistance × 1
- Thermistor × 1
- Adjustable Varistor × 1
- Buttons × 4
- GPIO Interface × 2
- Micro usb Interface（Power Supply and downlaod ) × 1
- SPI Communication Interface × 1
- AD/DA Conversion chip × 1
- JTAG Download Interface × 1
- FLASH 32Mbit × 1
FPGAs provide benefits to designers of many types of electronic equipment, ranging from IOT, smart homes, smart energy grids, aircraft navigation, automotive driver’s assistance, medical ultrasounds and data center search engines, and so on.
The Benefits of FPGA
- FPGA functionality can change upon every power-up of the device. So, when a design engineer wants to make a change, they can simply download a new configuration file into the device and try out the change.
- Often, changes can be made to the FPGA without making costly PC board changes.
- ASSPs and ASICs have fixed hardware functionality that can’t be changed without great cost and time.
- FPGAs are sold “off the shelf” vs. ASICs (which require manufacturing cycles taking many months).
- Because of FPGA flexibility, OEMs can ship systems as soon as the design is working and tested.
- FPGAs provide off-load and acceleration functions to CPUs, effectively speeding up the entire system performance.
Today’s FPGAs include on-die processors, transceiver I/O’s at 28 Gbps (or faster), RAM blocks, DSP engines, and more. More functions within the FPGA mean fewer devices on the circuit board, increasing reliability by reducing the number of device failures.
Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)
- While ASICs may cost less per unit than an equivalent FPGA, building them requires a non-recurring expense (NRE), expensive software tools, specialized design teams, and long manufacturing cycles.
- Intel FPGAs support long lifecycles (15-years or more), avoiding the cost of redesigning and requalifying OEM production equipment if one of the electronic devices on-board goes end of life (EOL).
- FPGAs reduce risk, allowing prototype systems to ship to customers for field trials, while still providing the ability to make changes quickly before ramping to volume production.
The concept behind an FPGA’s programmability is a basic building block containing various logic types that are connected and interconnected to perform any logic function. “Basic building block” is a generic term that I’m using, but you may hear terms like “logic cells,” “combinational logic blocks” (CLBs), or “logic array blocks” (LABs); it depends on the manufacturer. The basic building block contains logic resources and is the starting point that the FPGA uses to constructs the design.