nilrods

arty $99 artix fpga board

18 posts in this topic

Not sure if anyone saw this one yet. It is vivado based. Looks like a decent board. Looks like avnet and digilent are putting this one out. Nice to see one for less than $100 without requiring being student.

www.xilinx.com/products/boards-and-kits/arty.html

Any thoughts?

Thanks,

Chris

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I think it looks like a good deal, getting vivado instead of ISE and a modern FPGA. 225kb block ram is nice I guess.

The one downside I see for me is that I rather work with SRAM. Most fpga kits use DRAM these days though so I can see why they use DRAM.

Happy to hear more thoughts from more seasoned fpga experts, I'm just a newbie!

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The node-locked license will probably spoil the fun for me.

Carrying a board between home and work is one thing, but my desktop is not going to move, no way ...

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Well, if they would release Artix chips at a reasonable price I would make a new Papilio board with one. :)

 

Jack.

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The node-locked license will probably spoil the fun for me.

Carrying a board between home and work is one thing, but my desktop is not going to move, no way ...

 

I wonder if FPGA companies will ever get with the program and dispense with the ridiculous licensing models for their development software. It's a wonder anyone uses them at all with all the hoops you have to jump through. They should be making their money selling chips and supporting professional developers, trying to profit off the software tools needed to develop for them just limits the number of places even attempting to use an FPGA in a product.

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I hear ya...

Unfortunately, I can follow the math: Any commercial small volume job on FPGAs must be REALLY important to justify itself.

If I can't get the money through hardware, what else can I do. Hey, I have an idea...

Well, I'm glad we got the "low power" Spartan 6 as a playground, with LX45 as upgrade path if a Papilio succeeded bwyond expectations and to secure 2nd sourcing.

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I wonder if FPGA companies will ever get with the program and dispense with the ridiculous licensing models for their development software. 

 

don't want to hijack the thread, but talking about "development software" for FPGA, i have to say i have recently been hooked by the Icestorm project. it's the succesful effort to reverse the bitstream of a "family" of (small) LatticeSemi FPGA: the iCE40 ..

 

together with yosys, arachne-pnr and icestorm tools, you can have a completely open and free toolchain from verilog to bitstream.

 

that's good for so many reasons i'll not talk more. for example, you can move the development host on a ARM based low power netbook (and not only x86 monster..). you could try to find new/better use case, for example study if "partial reconfiguration" is feasible and effective on such a platform.

 

of course i know those LatticeSemi are on another (lower) league then X and A^WI devices, anyway this free and open toolchain looks like a major achievement to me.. 

 

bests

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Well, if they would release Artix chips at a reasonable price I would make a new Papilio board with one. :)

 

Jack.

I would have preferred that to the Spartan-6 but mostly because of Vivado vs ISE. Making a good program suite is hard and if I Xilinx/Altera I wouldn't bet on the community to make something good enough to house ip-cores and that would include new chipsets etc at launch. They would have to spend a lot of engineers to update that package and indirectly helping their competitor. Right now they also have a lock-in effect going where you need their programmer and their tools in ordet to upload and create bitstreams. As an engineer you might be less likely to switch to the competitor if you are locked in. Just take a look at http://www.circuitmaker.com/#why_circuitmaker. It is free, but they try to lock you into their platform. Apple is the same. Walled gardens is the current future!

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don't want to hijack the thread, but talking about "development software" for FPGA, i have to say i have recently been hooked by the Icestorm project. it's the succesful effort to reverse the bitstream of a "family" of (small) LatticeSemi FPGA: the iCE40 ..

 

together with yosys, arachne-pnr and icestorm tools, you can have a completely open and free toolchain from verilog to bitstream.

 

that's good for so many reasons i'll not talk more. for example, you can move the development host on a ARM based low power netbook (and not only x86 monster..). you could try to find new/better use case, for example study if "partial reconfiguration" is feasible and effective on such a platform.

 

of course i know those LatticeSemi are on another (lower) league then X and A^WI devices, anyway this free and open toolchain looks like a major achievement to me.. 

 

bests

This effort is mostly major because the bitstream is hidden. If it was open it would have been less major. Now people can innovate on tools... Interesting times for sure!

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That lock-in is part of the reason I've been working with Altera and Xilinx in parallel. If I'm familiar with both platforms then there's less of an issue migrating from one to the other depending on circumstances. I'm also finding it to be an excellent learning exercise to port code from one to the other. I have run into some strange timing issues though, I haven't quite figured out what causes them.

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I'd venture a guess that hobbyist market is still not deemed a necessary evil...

The toolchain is not exactly cheap to produce and it will contain some proprietary code that the companies are willing/required to protect so you really do have to have your own team to build it.

 

given the current efficiency trend we're bound to have an unlocked/open source version of the dev tools  from at least one of the major vendors in a few years though, just give them some time to sort the bits out :)

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It doesn't cost them anything to give it away for personal/hobbyist/educational use though, they already do that to a point, they just deliberately cripple the free version and make you jump through some hoops to get it. They could still charge for support and for professional use in commercial products, even open source software makes money via support contracts. Beyond that, the software is just a cost of doing business. It's a necessary tool that enables development around the products they sell. I believe the current business model is largely the reason FPGAs and CPLDs remain a niche product after all these years while microcontrollers are ubiquitous. The parts themselves are modestly priced, CPLDs under $2 in single quantities but microcontrollers all have freely available and fully functional development tools. Every good engineer I've ever met started out as a hobbyist, the importance of the hobbyist community should not be underestimated.

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Well, if they would release Artix chips at a reasonable price I would make a new Papilio board with one. :)

 

Jack.

 

I would like this, (!) 

since I am now considering the use of Xilinx 7-series chips for more high-speed application

using HDMI of higher pixel density and frame rates. 

 

I like Papilio boards (w Spartan 3s and 6s) because of the simplified and straight design (which helped my learning FPGA),

and that is why I am now using Papilio (instead of other powerful complicated boards).  

 

If the new Papilio board had the Artix-7, that would be my best selection! 

 

I, also, hope the Flavia-like bitstream generation (like Icestorm project for LatticeSemi iCE40)

would someday fall on the Artix-7 boards!  

  Flavia: http://www.element14.com/community/groups/fpga-group/blog/2015/06/28/xxicc-21st-century-co-design-release-00q

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I too would like to see an artix papilio. What would design lab look like with Vivado vs the current ISE?

I have been playing with the vivado on a zynq board. I think it would integrate nicely with designlab since the block designs already resemble the schematic design to me in ise.

As to the point that keeps coming up with development boards about licensing and not open source. The point is these are for profit companies not charities. i would venture to say they are making money off the current licensing models and as long as they are then they will never make them opensource. That is just business and until some other company comes along to force them by open sourcing their tools I don't see it happening anytime soon.

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I too would like to see an artix papilio. What would design lab look like with Vivado vs the current ISE?

I have been playing with the vivado on a zynq board. I think it would integrate nicely with designlab since the block designs already resemble the schematic design to me in ise.

 

I've mostly heard nice things about Vivado. The Spartan-7 is coming too, perhaps they handle it differently?

http://press.xilinx.com/2015-11-19-Xilinx-Announces-the-Spartan-7-FPGA-Family

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Woah! This is the first time I've heard about Spartan-7 devices. Will have to keep my eye on those...

 

Jack.

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I picked one of these Arty boards up, I have to say I find Vivado to be an improvement over ISE. We'll see how that pans out after the year of support expires.

Rather bizarrely ISE only supports the higher end Artix7 boards, so it's not an option at all.

All in all a nice board for $100, though a lack of available video connectors is a bit of a downer, not that it's particularly difficult to throw something together.

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