Choosing A FPGA Development Board
It is said that one of the hardest tasks in life is to choose. Choices do indeed present a formidable problem for almost everyone. This problem can become complicated almost ten-folds if you’re suppose to choose something when you’ve little or no experience in that field. Take almost any field of life and this is a dilemma that everyone has faced at least once in their life.
A similar problem awaits future engineers when they’re faced with the task of completing a digital signal processing on just 8 analog lines at precisely 10 kHz. This is the kind of tasks that would leave even experts pondering the best option. Thankfully, there are a lot of options out there for them to choose from. One option that a lot of engineers usually opt for is the RISC processor FPGA development board. However, there are a lot of other tasks that engineers need to perform and the effectiveness of those tasks depend on exactly how these boards perform.
For beginners, choosing the ideal FPGA board can be an unnerving decision. Questions like “should I opt for a dev kit and then expand it using the I/O pins in order to connect to the 8 channels A/D chip?” or “What’s the difference between the Spartan, Virtex and Altera configurations?” will be running through your min making the ultimate decision even harder.
Contrary to what you might be thinking, there is a right way to choose the best board to get started. However, the “best” option varies from person to person depending on why you need to use them. So here are some factors that’ll make the decision making process easier for you.
First things first, it doesn’t matter which option you opt for as all of them are well-reputed names in the industry and will perform decently. However, a common mistake that a lot of beginners make and then rue later on is thinking that the FGPA programming will be a lot like C++ or C. It’s not the same ballpark, not even the same sport. They’re completely separate concepts and you’ll only be making it harder for yourself if you continue to believe that they’re related in any way.
You should start out with a Verilog as it allows you to transition a lot easily into the VHDL. The reason for that is that Verilog is a lot similar to the other popular modern programming languages. Chances are that you’ll be able to adapt a lot quicker to this variant than any other.
As for the clock speed, at such an early stage it shouldn’t be an issue. Remember, you have to learn how to walk before you can run. If you plan on using FPGA boards then you’ll see that on most instances you’ll be getting a 50 MHz. By modern standards, it’s extremely low. However, you should keep in mind that you’ll be running multiple processes at once and that tends to make an impact.
Consider this, a normal CPU at a modest 3 GHz struggles with handling all these processes at once. It has to carry out hundreds and even thousands of processes simultaneously. This is where the FPGA will lend you a significant advantage; the ability to perform all these tasks simultaneously while eventually raising the processing speed.
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