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Showing content with the highest reputation on 10/19/2015 in all areas

  1. 1 point
    IMO the biggest challenge facing FPGA development boards is cost. A Raspberry Pi 2 or ODROID-C1 is US$35 for a desktop-capable quad-core ARMv7 with 1 GB RAM, quad (or more) USB 2.0, and Ethernet. The cheapest Spartan-6 board I have seen from a reputable vendor is about US$70, twice as much. I had hopes for the Hackaday Arduino-Compatible FPGA board when it was first announced at US$50, but now it's up to US$70. US$35 is a great price point, because it's at a level that a hobbyist can buy without spousal approval and something students can afford. US$25 would be even better for an FPGA board. If you look at Spartan-6 LX9 pricing, it's not the chip cost. The problem is that FPGA boards aren't popular enough to manufacture in 10K or larger lots, like Raspberry Pi. The fact that there are so many different FPGA boards diluting an already small market makes the problem worse. So I would recommend designing an FPGA board that really drives the price down. I really like the Butterfly Platform that Jack posted upstream. Very simple board, with just an FPGA, bypass caps, and connectors. Spartan-6 is nice because you only need 3.3V and 1.2V -- you don't need 2.5V like the Spartan-3E. While I like having an FT2232H on board for programming, the fact is that those chips are pricey. For US$15 you can get an Adafruit FT232H breakout board which makes a dandy JTAG programmer, and you can use it for all your FPGA boards. The other big challenge is the steep learning curve of vendor FPGA software, but a number of us are working on that with various approaches. If it the software was a lot easier and there was a really cheap board we could help a lot of new FPGA users get started. JMO/YMMV