Field-Programmable Gate Arrays, or FPGAs, are integrated circuits made especially for consumer
customization. The configuration of FPGAs is done through the use of hardware description language; each
FPGA containing programmable logic blocks that can be reconfigured and wired, a function common to most
logic gates. Once configured, an FPGA can perform intricate combinational functions at a high rate.
Learning to work with an FPGA can be challenging, even to experienced engineers and programmers.
Programmable logic can be a hard technological world to enter, but once the basics are learned, anyone can
master the use of an FPGA. So, who buys FPGA boards? That’s just it – anyone can use the directics.com/xilinx-spartan/.
Hobbyists, tech students, and engineers can use FPGAs to accomplish many tasks, ranging from simple to
complex. Controlled, efficient usage is not something that can be learned overnight, as programmable logic is
a hard field to get started in, but it is not impossible to become an expert in the area. The Papilio FPGA
platform is an easy-to-use open hardware board that is perfect for introducing strangers to the powers of
programmable logic. FPGAs no longer need to be resigned to hardcore tech fanatics, and can now be
explored by anyone who is interested in learning their basic patterns of use. As with Arduino, the Papilio team
seeks to simplify many of the harder points of programming with FPGAs, making the system accessible for
learners and lovers alike. Being able to add a complex board like this to your hardware arsenal is more than
handy, it can be crucial to starting a career or developing your interests in the area.
A similar board, the Mojo, was created with the same target in mind. Company Embedded Micro sought to
develop an FPGA board that would be easily accessible to anyone, even the newest to enter the realm of
programmable logic. Getting started has never been easier with uploaded tutorials and a simplified layout.
The Mojo doesn’t skimp on any of the features present on a fully-functioning FPGA, with onboard memory
and an Arduino compatible bootloader that allows for easy programming of the microcontroller. With these
specialties built in, anyone interested in delving into the world of hardware a little further can do so
immediately, with no prior schooling or experience. Embedded Micro’s site lists multiple tutorials ranging from
Flashing the Bootloader to Subtraction, to Combinational Logic. The opportunities for learning FPGAs abound!
When choosing an FPGA as a beginner, or even as a professional, it is best to start with a project or
application in mind, so that the required specialties of the board can be checked off before use. Most boards
come with an array of logic elements to hold soft processors as well as your own custom logic. If you’re
looking to use an FPGA board as a long-term investment in your learning and hardware usage, you can try
using more professional boards such as the Cyclone V GX Starter or the Altera DE1 Board from Terasic, or
the Diligent Nexys 3 from Diligent. The peripherals on these FPGAs allow exploration into audio and Ethernet,
as well as being fully fitted with LEDs and memory.
With the current range of FPGAs available, almost anyone can buy and use a board. Most companies boast a
host of tutorials for learners, or if you’re a pro, skip straight ahead and get started!