About 25 years ago, I thought it would be a good idea to learn how to program in VHDL. I bought a book, and the book sat on my shelf for about 20 years. Then I threw the book away because things change, and 20 year old books do not. But in the back of my mind, the tick-tick-tick went on. VHDL. I’m going to learn that someday. Thanks to Mike Field, I am finally on my way.
Mike offers a free book on learning the Spartan 3E FPGA and VHDL here. It’s an outstanding piece of work, but he felt it was a little outdated and didn’t address new features in the FPGAs from Xilinx. One happy day on Twitter, he solicited some volunteers to work through a new version of a tutorial with him. After visiting his wiki and finding all sorts of useful information, I volunteered to be one of his guinea pigs — because if I can learn to make lights blink, anyone can.
Digilient creates high quality boards featuring Xilinx FPGAs and supporting technologies such as memory, controllers, and peripherals. A chief focus is on ease of use, combined with partnering to provide education and training solutions. We will be using the Digilent ARTY board for our project because it serves as an ideal platform for learning the Vivado Design Suite. Vivado replaces the ISE Design Suite, which is gradually being phased out.
The ARTY sports an Artix®-7 35T FPGA partnered with a Xilinx MicroBlaze™ Processor. It’s a powerful entry level board for hobbyists and makers. Diclaimer: Digilent was kind enough to provide us with the boards.