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Jaraqui Peixe

XPS license for ISE 14.7 System Edition Request

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I have in my Education Center 20 Basys 2 boards as well as 20 Spartan 3E Starter Kit boards.

Spartan 3E Starter Kit Boards state is as good as new ones.

There is absolutely no way to negotiate directly with Xilinx requesting a full license which would allow us to work with XPS (Xilinx Platform Studio) and with microblaze. If I enter in my license manage center, I cannot create full licenses anymore. That is, if I format my old lenovo, I will lost my last XPS which can deal with microblaze.

We are forced to work in assembly with picoblaze. I already know that there are some developers who provided a C2psm compilers allowing people develop C programs for picoblaze.

But if I have 20 Spartan 3E boards in good conditions, I want to work with microblaze, not picoblaze.

 

Is there any way Digilent deal with Xilinx to provide a license for me (and very probably a lot of other people in same condition)?

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Hi,

>> We are forced to work in assembly with picoblaze.

you might have a look at the ZPU softcore CPU with GCC. The CPU is just a few hundred lines of code but most of its functionality is in software in the crt.o library in RAM. I understand it's quite well tested and has been used in commercial products.

Not surprisingly, using an FPGA to implement a processor that then kinda emulates itself in software (aka RISC :) ) is maybe not the most efficient use of silicon - I'm sure it has many strong points but speed is not among them...

Unfortunately, the broken-ness of Xilinx' DATA2MEM utility (to update the bitstream with a new .elf file) spoils the fun, at least when I tried in ISE14.7 (segfaults). When it works, the compile/build cycle takes only a second or two.

Long-term, porting the processor to a new platform would be straightforward, or even fully transparent if using inferred, device-independent memory. This would also work for a bootloader that is hardcoded into default content in inferred RAM. I might consider this myself as a barebone "hackable" CPU platform strictly for educational purposes.

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Hi @Jaraqui Peixe,

Unfortunately, Digilent does not have the ability to obtain these licenses for you with regards to Xilinx negotiations.

I do not doubt that the Spartan 3E Starter Boards you have are as good as new and work as such, but the reality is that last variant of ISE 14.7 that could support the FPGA chips on the Basys 2 and the Spartan 3E (both over 10 years old), was released by Xilinx back in 2013, so active support on these boards is limited as the required software will not install on newer OS's (at least the Windows variants anyway). As @xc6lx45, it is possible to make it work though.

What I would probably recommend is looking into the newer 7 series boards, such as the Basys 3 (the most similar to the Basys 2) or if you would want access to more memory than is provided in BRAM, both the Arty A7 and the Nexys A7 have on-board DDR memory. All of these boards work with Microblaze and are supported by the free Vivado WebPACK from Xilinx (which is license-free if that is a factor for you and includes Microblaze). Naturally, there is no guarantee that the Vivado software that supports these Artix 7 FPGA chips will become end-of-life'd, but I can at least say from Digilent's end that I have not heard of this happening in the near future.

Thanks,
JColvin

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