Suggestion for the fundamentals of logic/FPGA learning

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abalducci
Posts: 14
Joined: July 20th, 2014, 8:57 pm

Suggestion for the fundamentals of logic/FPGA learning

Post by abalducci » July 20th, 2014, 9:47 pm

Though I've spent a number of years now in the embedded chip space, both through work and self-learning, my original 'jumping-off' point was PC programming-- To which working with PICS and other embedded processors is not too much of a stretch, once you have a handle on how your inputs/outputs behave (or don't), it is not that much different.

However, it was both with a desire for advancement (as well as sinful curiosity when an Altera chip suddenly cropped up a couple of years ago in the context of some investigative/repair work), that FPGA's are not yet widely used, generally, by 'hobbyists'-- For two reasons, I think-- one is the learning curve, which is substantial to say the least-- and second, one needs to have a complete, well defined and laid out project to make use of the FPGA's true, functional advantage-- This takes not only an original idea, but in planning, a great deal of time.

Yes, of course on a FPGA you can run all sorts of direct forms of 'emulation', or mask inputs, but the end result is-- and ought to be, different than simply 'Intel Inside'-- While personally I am very much looking forward to 'Edison', at the same time I cannot help but think the 'Galileo' was released, in part more as a marketing campaign and to distract those who might stray from the safe confines of established microprocessor based development to something outside (of course every development is already 'in the pipe-line', and for different audiences takes a different amount of time: Ex. http://www.extremetech.com/extreme/1848 ... ance-boost

Personally I chose the Mojo (not for the name, smirk) but simply because, unlike comparable projects which I won't name, it wasn't completely castrated in its design, or built just to sell shields and a million other add-ons, just so you can actually 'do' something. Rather it is possibly the best 'unfettered' means of learning, without switches you'll never use, or blinking LEDS that make you wonder why you bought an FPGA in the first place if that is what you wanted to do--

That said, I am still slowly climbing the mountain myself, and I do hope Embedded makes good on its promise of more tutorials. I decided on this post only because the forums seem sadly quiet, perhaps divided between those who purchased a product they already know, and the yet-to-be-inspired who might be collecting their 'alternate video game' with dust. Or who are, simply like me, anxious.

As such I have found, by chance, what seems to me to be a really great book/text. I will admit I was able to personally scope up a very affordable used second edition, to which the husband and wife author's will not gain direct credit, but I had to take some time to learn so as to endorse it. As a suggestion to my fault, Embedded might host an Amazon link and earn 'extended credit' for it. In any case, the text in question is 'Digital Design and Computer Architecture, 2nd Ed' by Harris, David 'Money' (?), and Sarah L. Harris [Though to any females out there, why does the husband's name still get to come first ?].

Stepping through the very basics and fundamentals of logic, gates. latches/flip-flops (memory), structure, including an introduction to both VHDL, SystemVerilog, even C and Assembly, this both *is* and *is not* an FPGA text (they are mentioned directly, a couple of times, briefly). What I have come to recognize is that is an excellent introduction to all the fundamentals one needs to build on, and is possibly an excellent accompaniment (though not 'replacement') for a more in-depth review of the Embedded Micro tutorials.

In any case, that's my 'two's complement'.

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