[linux-elitists] Free FPGA software on Linux
Brian Danger Hicks
Mon Oct 11 11:30:52 PDT 2004
On Wed, Oct 06, 2004 at 05:54:54PM -0700, Michael Baxter wrote:
> Xilinx FPGAs are the best on Earth. There are some potential solutions for
> use of the tools for these devices, and there are also some accessible
> free (as in freedom) tools. In addition there are numerous free hardware
> netlists available.
Yeah, I was looking at the Spartan 3 dev kit they were offering, that
looked rather nice.
> First, you can use either the free WebPack, or a 60-day evalution copy of
> a conventional tool that does run Linux. It is quite annoying that these
> are Windows-only, but even this has had a solution for some time now:
I figured I could probably just run that under WINE, but I figured if
I said as much all of my replies would then be "Just run it under
Of course, I was hoping for something I could also run on my
Debian-PPC laptop, but oh well.
> If your hobby work can possibly fit a CPLD, there is still a free (as in
> cost) design tool service called WebFitter that Xilinx provides over the
> web. This supports numerous CPLD devices, including some that are the
> size of FPGAs from yesteryear. Additionally very high-speed (3 nS) but
> ultra-low power devices like CoolRunner are supported. Look here:
But FPGAs are so much cooler than CPLDs. So. Much. Cooler.
> There are some incredible non-free (as in cost) but still low-cost FPGA
> starter kit solutions available. This is a kit for $99 that supports a
> 200000-gate FPGA, which is still quite a lot of gates and flip-flops:
Yeah, that's the one I was looking at.
> You can use the free (as in freedom) software WINE to run the software for
> these starter kits.
It looked to me like it's just the same downloadable software you
pointed to earlier.
> There was a Linux Journal article covering the Linux FPGA Tools, if you
> want to see what that's like:
> You can also do synthesis and simulation up to the point of implementation
> tools for the particular technology CPLD or FPGA using Icarus Verilog.
> Icarus Verilog is GPL'ed, and has been continuously maintained for a
> decade. The tool's own maintainer uses it everyday for work with the
> latest Xilinx FPGA devices.
Yes, Icarus Verilog is great. I've only ever used it for simulation,
and the plus is that they fixed the bug where it wouldn't work on my
> Icarus Verilog is robust and powerful, and has been covered twice in Linux
> Journal. One of these articles has some nice HowTo information. Look here:
> If you do prefer VHDL, IMHO the Xilinx tools are probably your best bet
> because VHDL is a big language and the free tools for VHDL are mainly
> simulators. I would say synthesis for FPGA is not matched nearly as well
> in VHDL as what Icarus Verilog does. I could be wrong about this, but
> that's been my impression for an ongoing amount of time so far.
> Lastly, here's an enormous collection of open source cores, hardware
> designs, and technical documentation, plus a strong user community:
Brian Hicks <mailto:email@example.com>
<http://zork.net/~octal> <ham:KC0OIH> <PGP:0xADDD1F16>
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