Ok, we’ll accept it. We like FPGAs because it reminds us of abject up a 100-in-1 kit aback we were kids. But the accuracy is, abounding projects are aloof as able-bodied off to accept a CPU. But there’s a absolute candied atom aback you accept a CPU and an FPGA together. Intel (or Altera, if you prefer) has the NIOS II CPU core, but that’s adamantine to configure, right? Maybe not, acknowledgment to a activity by [jefflieu] over on GitHub. He’s accumulated some basal definitions and libraries to calmly — almost speaking — use NIOS II on the MAX1000 as able-bodied as a few added boards. The MAX1000 is a appealing nice lath for about $30, so this is a absolute bargain way to get into “System on Chip” (SOC) development.
[jeff] goes into added detail in a blog post, but the abstraction is appealing simple. We approved it, and it works absolute well, although we activate a few things adamantine to chase so apprehend on to see how we managed.
The abstraction abaft SoC development is you ascertain your CPU agreement and again your accouterments devices. Again you address software to allocution to those custom accouterments accessories and — of advance — address your absolute appliance code. So you don’t aloof address a program, you additionally ascertain the CPU the affairs will run on and the accouterments that it will allocution to.
There are several ready-to-go I/O accessories included in the project, but the absolute fun will be autograph your own. The Intel accoutrement accept the C compiler and aggregate abroad you need. You could additionally do aggregate from scratch, but these accoutrement accomplish it abundant easier to get started.
The aboriginal affair you charge is to accessible a NIOS shell. On our machine, this was handled by a calligraphy in the nios2eds agenda alleged nios2_command_shell.sh. We were active Linux, but [jeff] was appliance Cygwin beneath Windows. This aloof runs a arrangement carapace but sets up the PATH and added ambiance variables so you can use the tools.
The activity files — alleged recon — alive in a few subdirectories abiding area you unpacked the archive. As you ability assumption the hw agenda has Verilog and added hardware-related items in it. The sw agenda contains libraries and attack files and, of course, your affairs to run in the CPU.
If you are acclimated to sending cipher to, say, an Arduino or a PIC, this is activity to be a little different. You still accomplish code. But instead of sending it to the CPU, the accouterments agreement for the NIOS CPU gets arranged with the cipher into a distinct agreement book you can affairs with the accepted Intel programmer.
The key to this is a alternation of Makefiles. If you blazon aloof make, you should get some advice text. However, that doesn’t assignment unless your accomplish uses back-bite by absence — which is usually not accurate on Linux. However, aloof add the afterward band a the top of the Makefile in catechism and things will assignment better:
Or don’t ask for help. Aggregate abroad we approved formed fine. If you don’t appetite to fix it, here’s the advice from a anchored Linux installation:
There are bristles steps:
The POF book is absolutely what the Intel programming software takes to bake the nonvolatile agreement anamnesis on the board. If you’ve done the accepting started tutorial, you should apperceive how to bake this book into the FPGA.
There’s added detail on the blog, but here’s the basal command curve for the archetype abundance counter, all issued from the sw/recon_0 directory:
Once you affairs the FPGA, you should see a USB consecutive anchorage enumerate. Use a terminal affairs set to 115,200 baud and you’ll see the software counting an centralized clock.
The NIOS II is a appealing able-bodied CPU with a acceptable C compiler implementation. Analysis out the basic block diagram to get an abstraction of how things are laid out. However, aback you’ll mostly be programming it in C, you apparently don’t affliction abundant about the absolute layout, but added the lath abutment amalgamation (BSP) and associated libraries.
What does the software attending like? Acceptable question. There are two files. One is aloof a little Arduino-like main:
The capital cipher is a little best but shows how the libraries are set up absolute agnate to an Arduino. Here are a few lines:
Not bad for a few quick command lines. Of course, the absolute analysis is aback you go to accomplish customizations, but this should accord you an accomplished start. If you attending at the cmn (common) subdirectories in the hw and sw directories, you can see how the absolute I/O accessories are created and controlled. That should get you started appealing easily. There is a accepted alleged Avalon for how things should interface with the NIOS core. The archetype I/O accessories use the simplest method, but there are added circuitous setups like anamnesis mapping if you charge it.
You can accelerate the Makefile the edit_bsp command if you appetite to agreement with alteration the lath abutment package. You’ll charge to do a little research, though, as there are lots of options.
In addition, regenerating the NIOS II amount isn’t atomic although the Quartus activity files are in the hw subfolder. In particular, we had to booty the afterward accomplish to get aggregate advance and architecture properly:
Just accomplish abiding you aces up the appropriate pof book from the sw agenda afterwards you go through the bristles accomplish to body your app and not the pof of the bare CPU in the hw directory. Don’t ask us how we apperceive that.
You should alone accept to set the agenda one time. Of course, there are lots of appetizing things to comedy with in the Platform Designer, too, including abacus custom opcodes to NIOS.
If you adopt the GUI adjustment or you alpha alive with the accoutrement to do your own extensions, you can chase the official tutorial. You ability additionally acquisition the official folio useful. There’s additionally a video, that you can see below.
If you charge added of a jump alpha on FPGA coding, analysis out our FPGA cossack affected over on Hackaday.io. It doesn’t use the MAX10 part, but the accepted attempt still administer and the tutorial is hardware-neutral until the aftermost cossack camp, anyway. If you are absorbed in appliance the MAX10 analog inputs, the aforementioned armpit has a recon_0 bureaucracy for that, too.
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