[rc5] Re: I'm interested in FPGAs. How do I start ? (fwd)
darxus at Op.Net
Wed Nov 5 21:48:23 EST 1997
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darxus at op.net / http://www.op.net/~darxus
"You shall know the truth, and it shall make you odd."
---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Tue, 04 Nov 1997 00:24:05 -0500
From: Bill Ewing <bewing at imxtech.com>
To: Darxus <darxus at monet.op.net>
Subject: Re: I'm interested in FPGAs. How do I start ?
> I know very little about FPGAs, and I wish to remedy this.
FPGAs vary a lot from manufacturer to mfg. Xilinx are very cool, but
their development tools are expensive. Several manufacturers have
freebies, though. Specifically, Lattice Semiconductor has an excellent
package based on Data I/O's "Synario". I bugged a sales rep to get me a
disk for free, and it's really great. It's my understanding that it has
a schematic-entry tool, and a VHDL compiler, an equation comiler, and a
state-machine compiler, and you can mix-and-match so your design is a
I needed it for PALs, but it also supports the bottom-of-the-line
ISPLI chips (In-Service-Programmable Logic ICs, i.e., RAM based). You
can do quite a lot with these, and then expand the system and still stay
within your budget! The only challenge is that you have to load the
RAMs. That should be easy, if you've done any digital design. Or, they
may have a prototype board you can buy. I think you start at
http://www.latticesemi.com. Remember, the salesman may be a little
reluctant, since he'll get commission only if you upgrade the system, or
make a killer design you can actually sell. Geepers! That makes me
wonder if you should be working for me! What do you do, and where do you
live? I just read your list. BIG projects...mostly software, I would
think. I would advise starting small, if no one's behind you. Ahhh, what
do I know? Go for it!
I think Altera also has some freebies, but I never tried them.
Also, you'll probably be forced to stick to Windows. Don't let that
Good luck. You're right, these things are absolutely amazing -- a
pleasure to work with (but be careful, they do what you tell them to,
not necessarily what you want...)
> I believe this technology may be within my price range, in fact, it may be
> possible for me to be able to get a setup with a number of these chips.
> I could not find a FPGA FAQ on ftp://rtfm.mit.edu, and unfortunately there
> seem to be bad connections between me and http://www.plnv.com (somewhere
> in the netcom.com domain) at the moment.
> I am interested in the possibility of porting such things as:
> * OpenGL (http://www.sgi.com/Technology/OpenGL)
> * general (substantial?) floating point acceleration
> * MPEG video & audio (other formats as well)
> * distributed computing projects, including:
> + the RC5 Challenge (http://www.rsa.com/rsalabs/97challenge/),
> specifically the Bovine Project (http://rc5.distributed.net)
> + distributed Chess
> + the Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search (GIMPS)
> + searching for optimal Golomb rulers
> and, most importantly, the V3 cross-platform open distributed networking
> protocol, being developed by the distributed.net folks.
> From what I have found, it seems that Xilinx makes good chips, but I do
> not know if there are commercially available PCI cards available with
> these chips. If not, I am willing to get some schematics an learn to
> build a PCI card of my own.
> Whatever it takes.
> My operating system of choice is Linux on an x86 platform, but I can do
> Windows 95 as well, if necessary.
> I like what I've heard of this technology, and it blows my mind that it is
> not much more commonplace.
> Any and all information you can give me on where I can get this stuff, how
> much this technology will cost me, how much power I can get for this cost
> (I'm looking for around $500 ?), and what I can do with it -- and how I
> can learn how to do what I can do with it, will be most greatly
> ***PGP fingerprint = D5 EB F8 E7 64 55 CF 91 C2 4F E0 4D 18 B6 7C 27***
> darxus at op.net / http://www.op.net/~darxus
> "You shall know the truth, and it shall make you odd."
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