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Forum: FPGA, VHDL & Verilog Board recommendation for scientific computing


Author: Mem Maakers (Company: none) (memmakersorg)
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My main goal for now is to build circuits that can do stuff like:

 . Simple vector computation -- add, multiply, subtract two or more 
vectors
 . Work with my main driver programs ... say that read the vectors from 
a file -- configure the FPGA board -- work on LINUX
 . Let me build ALUs of arbitrary precision.
 . I Do not need to do any external interfacing
 . I have never worked with FPGAs, VHDL or Verilog before
 . Studied EE 15+ years ago, was a competent student.

Was looking at the following board to get started any thoughts?
  Xilinx Virtex XCV300E PCIx FPGA board -- $40 on ebay

For someone with my needs what else should I look for that I can pick up 
on ebay?

For someone with my background would you recommend resources:
1. Books
2. Tools (open source preferable)
3. Sites

Thanks in advance.

Author: Lothar Miller (lkmiller) (Moderator)
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> For someone with my background would you recommend resources:
> 1. Books
If you tend to VHDL, then: Peter Ashenden
> 2. Tools (open source preferable)
You must install the vendors toolchain, because MAP and Place&Route 
are vendor specific, because huge knowledge of internal structure of the 
FPGA is needed.
> 3. Sites
Xilinx, Lattice, Altera...

> Simple vector computation
Every FPGA is able to...

> Work with my main driver programs ...
> say that read the vectors from a file
> -- configure the FPGA board
> -- work on LINUX
Could you clearify this point much more?

> Let me build ALUs of arbitrary precision.
No problem with any FPGA.

> I Do not need to do any external interfacing
So, how do you connect "your" CPU?
Or do you want to build your own CPU on a FPGA?

> Was looking at the following board to get started any thoughts?
>  Xilinx Virtex XCV300E PCIx FPGA board -- $40 on ebay
Better to look for a "Basys" board from Digilent for the start. Or do 
you need the PCI interface? Then you will need a PCI core also...

Author: Mem Maakers (Company: none) (memmakersorg)
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Hi @lkmiller, many thanks for your response -- I should have come to 
this forum 1st.

On interfacing (stupid me ... forgive me I have been away from hardware 
for a long time).
.....................................................
What I meant was I DO NOT need to interface to USB, serial, VGA, etc. I 
DO need to get large amounts of data from memory on a computer running 
LINUX on a traditional x86 based platform into my FPGA and the results 
out again back to memory. So I guess a PCI (or ePCI, PCIX, etc.) 
interface would be necessary.

VHDL or Verilog or something else
......................................................
For what I am planning to do is one suitable over the other?

Author: RB (Guest)
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If you want to use Xilinx FPGAs you might be interested in Virtex5 and 
Virtex7 evaluation boards. There are some with PCIe available. But these 
Kits are anything but cheap...
The VHDL/Verilog programming software is Windows-based but you can use 
Linux after you have your FPGA-PCI(e)-device running.

http://www.xilinx.com/products/boards_kits/virtex5.htm
http://www.xilinx.com/products/boards-and-kits/EK-...

Author: Mem Maakers (Company: none) (memmakersorg)
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Hi @RB, thanks for the answer.

That is why I asked if:
   Xilinx Virtex XCV300E PCIx FPGA board

would do.

I can find affordably on ebay.

Is that not what I'm looking for -- will support be outdated for it.

Also, I'm specifically not looking for Xilinx but really PCI support.

Thanks.

Author: Lothar Miller (lkmiller) (Moderator)
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If PCI troughput is enough for you then I would urge you to use the 
"simple" PCI interface after doing the even simpler "blinking LED" or 
a "chasing light" turning over to a VGA interface, RS232 and so on (you 
will crash hopelessly, when you start with the PCI bus directly).

>> VHDL or Verilog or something else
> For what I am planning to do is one suitable over the other?
Is C or Java the language to reach heaven? Is Spanish or English more 
suitable to communicate? Its the same with every language: using the 
correct words and syntax you will reach your destination...
Lets say it in a very simplified way: Europe = VHDL, Americas = Verilog

>> XCV300E
> Is that not what I'm looking for -- will support be outdated for it.
Virtex 3 are fairly old devices from the end of the last millenium. This 
FPGA is no more in the part list of the current Xilinx ISE toolchain. 
And this trend will continue...
Conclusion: look for newer devices (e.g. Spartan 3).
And also you will have to look for an open PCI core (opencores.org) or 
buy one or write one yourself.

> I can find affordably on ebay.
My tip: buy any very simple board and start with VHDL/Verilog. After 
half a year playing with it you have gatherd enough knowledge to assess 
further actions. You will be able to sell this small board with almost 
no monetary loss.

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