Terasic’s DE0-Nano houses the Altera Cyclone IV that features a low cost, low power FPGA ideal for high-volume and cost-sensitive applications. Boosting a miniature size of 49 x 75 mm and a weight of 40 g, the board was aimed for simple implementations targeting the Cyclone IV up to 22,320 LEs. The device utilizes small spacers as legs and even an acrylic cover on top of the board to provide better protection making this Development kit (Devkit) the option to choose for robust applications while giving of a sleek feel to users as they get to look through the device’s glass-like cover. The DE0-Nano definitely is one device to consider in making portable design projects where portable power is essential.
Running at around $80, users already get to enjoy a lot of other on board features. The DE0-Nano is equipped with a 3-axis digital accelerometer designed for better sensing applications. Other on board features follow in the form of 2 separate extension headers plus a third header that supports an ADC converter with 8-channels and 16 I/O Pins, 8 user LEDs, Push buttons and DIP switches. DE0-Nano also provides a three-power scheme option for designers through a USB mini-AB port, 2-pin external power header and two DC 5V pins.
Upon connection to the host PC, the FPGA Devkit automatically powers up and the LEDs start fading in and out. Once host PC has loaded up the DE0-Nano Control Panel, the LEDs stop fading indicating a full user access of the device. The DE0-Nano Control Panel is a GUI that allows users to automatically verify hardware components of the board. Users get to play around the LEDs and a GUI representation is also provided for the Push buttons and DIP switches. The control panel also allows users to work around with the memory and verify accelerometer coordinates and even provides an ADC tab that allows users to monitor the voltage levels in the different channels. The DE0-Nano Control Panel has a user-friendly interface that provides a fast response GUI that readily illustrates all changes made in the actual board. In general, the device is a great development board. It already has everything on board without having to pay for a lot of extras. Despite the DE0-Nano being an entry-level device, the well thought out and compact design definitely makes it a very complete and functional development board.
Terasic DE0 Nano – Product Overview - [Link]
This article goes through the process of building your own i/o expander breakout board for the DE0-Nano Altera FPGA demo board. The PCB built easily connects to a breadboard where you have access to each individual FPGA I/O pin.
DIY DE0-Nano Breakout Board - [Link]
chris @ pyroelectro.com writes:
If you dabble at all with building your own circuits with CPLD or FPGA devices then you have likely used a JTAG programmer made by Altera or Xilinx. While these programmers are essential for getting your FPGA designs onto the chip, they are horribly expensive and not practical for any electronics hobbyist. But don’t despair, we can actually make one DIY style for less than $10!
This article will show you how to use standard electronics parts easily purchased at any electronics store to build your very own Altera FPGA and CPLD device programmer. The programmer will work flawlessly with Altera’s Quartus II software and take less than an hour to build.
ByteBlasterMV FPGA Programmer - [Link]
This is a DIY USB programer for Altera FPGAs. It only uses a PIC uC and a few discrete components to provide a JTAG interface with a FPGA. Somun found it on a Japanese site (machine translation), and with the help of Google Translate he built one for himself.
There are two versions available. The older one pictured above uses a PIC18f2550 chip, while the newer one uses a cheaper PIC18F14K50. If anyone is interested drop a comment in the forum and Somun will provide the eagle files for his build. [via]
FPGACheap DIY Altera FPGA USB programmer - [Link]
One of the professors (Jowel Yusta) at CSU Chico University’s Electrical Engineering department was kind enough to pass on some small Altera UP2 FPGA oriented projects that his students built for their yearly EECE 343 – Computer Interface Circuits course.
The EECE 343 course focuses on the different ways that digital electronics pass information to each other, for example USB or PS/2. The Altera UP2 board might be quite antiquated compared to the newer university boards that are available (especially compared to the DE0-Nano) but it’s still a straight forward and simple platform to work with. Such things are extremely rare in electronics and are great for learners.
Altera UP2 Projects – EECE 343 Fall ’11 - [Link]
FPGA hardware/software projects were produced by students in the last month of ECE5760 at Cornell. Projects were built using the Altera/Terasic DE2 or DE2-115 FPGA educational boards. This year’s projects include:
- Prime number generator and RSA encrypter/decrypter
- Conway’s life tone synthesizer
- Hand video-tracking virtual piano and drums
- Finger video-tracking virtual string instrument
- Hand video-tracking video game
Cornell University ECE 5760 Final Year Projects – [Link]
The package comes with a single DE0 Nano development board, mini USB cable (you can program and power the module over USB) and two CDs with the software necessary to ‘compile’ and ‘upload’ code to the board. The software is available for Windows and Linux computers (no Mac) [via]
The module itself contains a nice collection of accessories:
- Altera Cyclone IV FPGA (EP4CE22F17C6N)
- 22,320 Logic elements (LEs)
- 594 Embedded memory (Kbits)
- 66 Embedded 18 x 18 multipliers
- 4 General-purpose PLLs
- 153 Maximum FPGA I/O pins
- 50 MHz clock oscillator
- 8-channel 12-bit Analog/Digital converter (NS ADC128S022)
- 32 MB SDRAM
- On-board USB blaster programming interface
- USB mini-AB port
- 2Kb I2C EEPROM
- 4 DIP switches
- 8 Green LEDs
- ADXL345 3-axis Accelerometer
- Two 40-pin IDC-compatible headers provides 72 general purpose I/O pins
- One 26-pin header provides 16 digital I/O pins and 8 analog input pins to connect to analog sensors
DE0-Nano – Altera Cyclone IV FPGA starter board - [Link]
An embedded development board for Altera FPGAs: [via]
CoreCommander development board is unique in the industry. It features the Altera Cyclone III FPGA that provides more than enough room for almost any embedded design.
This flexible board comes with a suite of SLS IP Cores, drivers, and application software. Delivered as a complete package, the board and soft content ensures quick and easy implementation of industry leading cores with reduced risk AND at a very low cost.
CoreCommander development board – [Link]
This article goes through how to create a VGA controller that uses a resistor DAC to create 512 unique VGA colors. The tutorial uses an Altera CPLD and VHDL code to create all the video signals. The theory, hardware schematics and software are all explained and available for viewing/download.
FPGA VGA Resistor DAC - [Link]
Altera today issued a press release announcing that it set an industry milestone in semiconductor technology by delivering the most transistors ever packed onto an integrated circuit. Altera’s 28-nm Stratix® V FPGAs are the semiconductor industry’s first devices to feature 3.9 billion transistors.
“Altera surpassed the known record for transistors when it taped out Stratix V FPGAs at the end of 2010,” said Bradley Howe, vice president of IC engineering at Altera. “Maintaining the rapid pace set by Moore’s Law has allowed programmable logic to remain at the forefront of driving innovations in semiconductor technology. Achieving milestones like this continue to propel FPGAs to new heights of capacity and performance while delivering significantly higher levels of integration.”
Altera indicates that samples are available, but given its FBGA packaging there appears little for the hobbyist developer to work with here. [via]
Altera breaks industry record for most transistors on an IC – [Link]