Guest matthew180

Programming serial flash for FPGA product

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Guest matthew180

I working on an FPGA end user product, i.e. the target user is not an electronics hobbyist, and I need to program the serial flash with the FPGA's bit stream.  The device is very minimal (I only need the FPGA and 5v level shifter) so there will not be a USB chip on board.  I really like the Papilion design, but I just don't need the USB chip on board.  I'm looking for the easiest (and relatively inexpensive) solution.

The FPGA is the Xilinx Spartan 3E (250K or 500K) and in reading the datasheet, it seems direct SPI programming can be done.  Has anyone done this?  The datasheet mentions that iMPACT supports this type of programming, but I'd like to hear someone's experience with going this route.  The other alternative I was thinking about was to just make a FT2232-based programming dongle, basically the USB section of the Papilion on its own board.  There seem to be a few of those types of "programmers" available, but everyone wants $100 or so for one.  Ouch.

Anyway, any insight would be greatly appreciated.

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I think what is more common is to include SPI flash and program the SPI flash rather than programming the FPGA directly over SPI.

You probably can copy the parallel port design for an inexpensive programming solution.

Jack.

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Guest matthew180

I think there is some confusion, I'm definitely using a Serial Flash device which will hold the FPGA's bit stream.  I'm not talking about trying to program the FPGA directly.  I need to get the Serial Flash programmed though, when it is in the circuit.  I looked at some parallel port cables, but parallel ports are becoming rare on new hardware.  I guess it could work for now though.

The parallel port to SPI looks deceptively simple though.  All passive parts and some connectors...  Is it really that easy to program an SPI Serial Flash?

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Do you have 2 pins you can use to temporarily connect a serial converter ?

If so you can use a RS232/USB converter and I'll provide you a bitfile with ZPUino + programmer. Just upload ZPUino to FPGA and use the programmer connected to the serial converter <-> USB <-> PC to program the SPI flash.

Álvaro

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