JColvin

Different types of FPGA boards wishlist/request/feedback

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FPGAs are inherently very versatile with many different sorts of features packed into a particular package and architecture. So why not have some Digilent FPGA boards that predominately use such features as opposed to others, rather than having multiple options that are all slightly different but at the same time almost the same? Here are some ideas that have been brought up to me:

  • Low end Artix board that focuses on the PCIe capabilities of the 7-series chip
  • Board that focuses on video applications without a bunch of extra switches and no VGA. Who today uses a monitor that only offers a VGA port?
  • Differential high speed connectors. LVCMOS and LVTTL are not the end-all be-all IO standards; other standards exist and as technology gets better, lower and lower voltages will become more common place.
  • Boards (in particular the Analog Discovery and EE Board) with USB 3.0 capabilities for high-speed serial data streams. Granted Type C connectors and USB 3.0 are not ubquitous as of yet, but wait another 5-10 years and they will be if something better and cheaper doesn't come out.
  • Turns out I don't have a 5th idea off the top of my head

Any further ideas or feedback in general is welcome although I suppose I would ask that questions and comments sharing a theme with "Why does product X suck? Make it suck less" be kept to a minimum here. If you feel the need to rant, we have a subForum for that: https://forum.digilentinc.com/forum/32-technical-based-off-topic-discussions/ :)

Thanks,
JColvin

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@JColvin,

Thanks for pulling this into a separate forum.  You are right ... this discussion belongs here.

I would think that your basic FPGA board should have a JTAG, flash, and DDR3 memory (unlike Basys3, and the CMod A7).

Further, anything with video should have twice as much DDR3 SDRAM as a 1080p image would require.  (Unlike the Basys3 ... ;) )  I think a video supporting board should also have GbE--to get info on/off the board at high speed.  (Nice job on Nexys-Video there)

@zygot's differential pmod challenge is really a basic project that I would encourage any university student to work on.  It'd be nice to have the means of doing that within a single board: two oscillators, perhaps one at a variable rate, but *definitely* two "high speed" differential PMod's.  I'll let others argue for what the correct voltage standard should be for these PMod's.  Indeed, the two oscillator problem is a common enough one that you might consider making sure your education boards have two oscillators--to at least give the students a chance to learn what they require.

I know I've seen a common request on the forum for an adjustable voltage PMod standard.  It's something I would recommend you consider.  How many peripheral modules should be on this special standard ... I don't know.  I would recommend at least one.

As for the AD and DD boards ... why not share the hardware for such a board just like any other FPGA board?  Realistically, a scope is a very simple device to implement, and Digilent seems to be struggling to answer every customer's request for discovery capabilities.  An open board capable with the same capability might sell quite well.  User's could then decode their favorite interface,  trigger in their favorite manner, etc.  (Are you already working on this ... ?)

A low end Artix-7 that focuses on PCIe?  Sign me up!  I've been waiting to purchase a PCIe capable board, for low cost.  Such a board should at a minimum have a USB UART, flash, DDR3 SDRAM, and a couple of LED's (and/or switches).  GbE would be nice too ... but perhaps not required.

Another type of board to consider is your small end boards.  The CMod's for example.  I would wager these are *really* useful in digital design types of classes, and you'd want to make certain those don't get left by the wayside.  (You know ... a good CMod with DDR3 SDRAM and a couple A/D's is already almost a scope of its own ...)

I should also mention that my recent "board search" had me looking for an FPGA with GbE, lots of I/O, DDR3 SDRAM, in a small form factor. (3" diameter or so)  Needless to say, I didn't find it here and this would've been my preferred place to find it.

Hope this helps!

Dan

 

 

 

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It's a great idea @JColvin to have a forum for customer's wish lists. I respectfully disagree that the particular sin of Digilent's differential PMODs should be put into this particular cubbyhole however. It is an issue encompassing so much more than just a bad design element.

@D@n

  • There are affordable FPGA development boards with PCIe; just not ones from Xilinx or Altera or their partners. I have a few and most of them sport significant IO resources for development purposes. In fact there's one from Actel sitting in the Centos box next to me as I write this. I have a KC705 from Xilinx in my Win7 development computer and as I've pointed out elsewhere that board is competitive in price with the Genesys2.
  • I agree that, despite the reason for the creation of the Differential PMOD Challenge, that it is an excellent opportunity for anyone to develop their skills. I'm still waiting for your promised contribution....

OK, so I'll repeat here what I've been saying in multiple topic related threads: Digilent it's time to create some useful wider low speed single-ended connectors and a really good high speed connector for experimenting with LVDS.

Digilent has a great opportunity to create some really useful and affordable things for those FMC connectors on the Nexys Video and Genesys2 boards.

 

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@JColvin,

I forgot to add this. You mentioned USB 3.0. Anyone with a Nexys Video or Genesys2 can have USB3.0 using cheap development boards from either FTDI or Cypress. I've used both and prefer the Cypress offerings as there a whole lot more capable and supported ( and, unfortunately, more complex ). While on the FMC subject ADI has a few relatively inexpensive A/D boards that I've used with the LPC Nexys Video Video FMC connector. They aren't complete solutions to any particular A/D application however. There are so many opportunities for Digilent to make money and sell more of their FPGA boards (preferably with useful PMODs)..... I just don't understand ....

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