FPGAs 101


After buying a Digilent Basys2 board last year to teach myself programming FPGAs with VHDL I never really sat down for a few hours to get to know the programming environment. Partly because coming from microcontrollers where I'd always setup a Makefile to compile my code and program the boards, learning how to use a 14.5 GB piece of software was daunting.

However, recently I picked up a copy of FPGAs 101 to kickstart my venture. The book certainly has OK parts for an absolute VHDL beginner, and does explain the general process involved with synthesis, simulation, etc., it takes about 200 pages too much to do that.

So that taught me the absolute basics of VHDL, ok, what's next? Hamster's FPGA course was next. If you're starting out with FPGAs (or CPLDs for that matter) this is the "missing manual" that should've come with the board, or the book that FPGAs 101 should've been.

Note that there is a GitHub project for this book which contains the most (somewhat) recent PDF version of this course.

Since Xilinx still doesn't offer it's ISE WebPACK software for Mac I had to resort to using Windows for now the multi-gigabyte bloated GUI for WebPACK, but it got me started.

So soonish I'll setup a CentOS VM to see if I can get my workflow of make program back.