What Are The Best FPGA Development Boards Available Today?

by Josh Biggs in Tech on 9th November 2018

If you are starting to learn about field programmable gate arrays, you might want to begin with a development board. Often referred to as dev boards, these are designed for beginners, allowing them to hone their skills at designing FPGAs. There are several companies that make these. Xilinx is the company that is most well-known, as well as the originator of the field programmable gate array technology. The other one that is just as prominent comes from the company Intel, specifically their Altera products. If you are interested in learning more about FPGAs, here are a few development boards that you may want to consider using.

How To Choose The Right Development Board

When you look at all of the available FPGA development boards, they will often look very similar. They will come with external hardware that you can manipulate very easily, configuring the board to perform certain functions. When you actually get a job doing this, it is likely you will be educated on how to run the software that controls the automated systems that build these extremely small FPGAs. The only way that you can learn when you are starting out, however, is to start working with these development boards that are large enough so you can see how things work together.

Where To Find Development Boards Online

You can find these development boards very quickly on the web. You can simply go to the Xilinx or Altera websites and you will see several for sale. They will go into detail about what you are able to do with them. They can be priced very affordably, or they might be extremely expensive. You also need to choose them based upon what your objective is. For example, if you have never used one before, you should purchase the one that is designed for beginners. If you are beyond the beginner stage, they will have more comprehensive development boards available along with tutorials that will explain each and every aspect of these boards that they have made.

What Are Some Of The Best FPGA Development Boards Available?

Some of the better development boards will come from Xilinx. In many cases, they are designed to work with high-speed peripherals. It is possible to upgrade and add new components. There will often be a gigabit at connection, HDMI interfaces, and a DDR or Flash connection. You can also add MMC/SD cards and VGA if you want to. Essentially, anything that you have on your current computer can be added to the board. There should be LEDs and SPST switches. However, you also need to choose a development board that will provide you with a very detailed overview of everything that is included.

What Type Of Instructional Material Should Be Provided?

When you open up the box, at the very least, there should be a schematic diagram. There should also be a reference manual which will detail all of the peripherals that come with the system. In addition to this, there should be a quick start guide that is perfect for people that are just starting out. Finally, reference design material should be provided which will provide you with information on how to use all of the on board peripherals. You can usually determine if all of this is included by looking at a summary of each FPGA. This will help you narrow down the initial one that you purchase, and then you simply choose one based upon the price.

Xilinx Or Altera FPGA Development Boards?

There are some people that would like to begin with Xilinx because of its reputation for being the originator of FPGA. However, there are those that like everything related to Intel. The choice that you make will be sometimes based upon the company that you are purchasing it from. However, you do need to consider what is included with each development board more than who has actually manufactured it. Look at the price, what is included, and what type of instructional materials you will be given when making your final selection.

The Top Three FPGA Development Boards Available Today

If you are just starting out the Digilent Arty S7: Spartan-7 is a great place to begin. That is because it is easy to use and you have many different components that come with the package. Right out of the box you are going to have four buttons, four switches, and a reset button. You will also have LEDs that you can configure. Another good choice is the Terasic DE10-Nano. This is a good choice because the board is very similar to the Intel FCyclone V SoC FPGA. It uses an ARM-based hard processor system and also has a microSD socket in case you need a little bit more memory. Finally, there is the Digilient Cmod A7 that utilizes a Xilinx Artix-7 FPGA. This has a multitude of different components including flip-flops, block RAM, and basic I/O devices, making this one of the more comprehensive packages.

How To Save Money When You Make Your Purchase

Whether you decide to get one from Xilinx, Altera, or one of the many other companies, make sure that you are getting a good deal. There are many vendors that market these such as http://www.directics.com, and not all of them are going to make a substantial amount of profit with every sale. Simply choose the one that you believe would be best for you and then search for that particular FPGA development board online. You will likely find several different websites that are selling it, one of which is going to offer you a very low price.

If you haven’t had the time to look at development boards, you want to spend a few hours going over the many that are available. FPGA development boards are constantly improving, and you will eventually find one that you will want to purchase. If you have always wanted to get into this industry, there is no better place to start than with these development boards. They are going to launch you into an industry that can be very lucrative, and at the very least, may cater to your desire to understand how computers work.


Categories: Tech