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Arduino vs ESP vs FPGA

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(@pugwash)
Sorcerers' Apprentice
Joined: 5 years ago
Posts: 923
Topic starter  

Bill,

I think a video comparing Arduinos, ESPs and FPGAs would make any interesting topic for a video. Direct comparisons i.e. Pros and Cons of each type of board!


   
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(@anibal)
Member
Joined: 4 years ago
Posts: 39
 

Hello Pugwash,

 

I second the motion. I've notice alot of talk and articles abot FPGA's and I think it would be a good idea to get an introduction and how to use it on a practical and applicable way. I read one article on the subjct and I would like to see it in practice especally how it applies to DroneBot members practitioners. 

Best,

Anibal


   
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Robo Pi
(@robo-pi)
Robotics Engineer
Joined: 5 years ago
Posts: 1669
 

FPGA's are not microcontrollers.  They are Field Programmable Gate Arrays.

They can be compared with CPLD which are Complex Programmable Logic Device.

Just as a quick comparison between FPGA and CPLD:

FPGA contains up to 100,000 of tiny logic blocks while CPLD contains only a few blocks of logic that reaches up to a few thousands. 2. In terms of architecture, FPGAs are considered as 'fine-grain' devices while CPLDs are 'coarse-grain'. ... FPGA is a RAM-based digital logic chip while CPLD is EEPROM-based.

Also:

-Field Programmable Gate Arrays with tiny blocks with fine grain architecture

-FPGA’s are with more F/F’s

-FPGA’s are RAM based and Volatile

-In FPGA design security is an issue

-Design flexibility is more

-FPGA’s have more delay because of more sequential circuits and less predictable.

-Complex Programmable Logic Devices with large logic blocks and Coarse grain architectue

-CPLD’s are with more combinational circuits

-CPLD’s are EEPROM based and non volatile

-Design flexibility is less.

-CPLD’s are more secure

-CPLD’s have less delay and is more predictable

~~~~~

I don't know how these could be compared with microcontrollers since they are an entirely different thing.

Having said this I would love to see some videos on FPGA and CPDL

I have 10 each of the following FPGA and CPDL boards

FPGA Altera Cyclone II (EP2C5ST144C8N) Development Board

CPLD Altera MAX II EPM 240 Development Board

I haven't done anything with this for quite some time.  I bought them to learn about them and I was using Quartus II design software to design the circuits. 

Circuits can be designed using

  1. VHDL
  2. Verilog
  3. or circuits can be drawn up in standard schematics form.

I was using VHDL and Schematic design.  But I wanted to combine them together using both VHDL and schematic design on a single project.  For the life of me I couldn't find a way to get Quartus II software to allow me to use both methods at the same time on a single project.  That was a bit frustration.

~~~~~~~

I would love to see some interest on the forums for FPGA and CPLD design.  That would be great if there is enough interest to devote to a forum topic.  

Although one thing I've found in the FPGA and CPLD communities is that people are often more concerned with getting the latest and greatest FPGA and CPLD boards.  The boards I bought on the cheapest starter boards you can find.   I see no reason in investing a large amount of money in more complex boards when I can't even use these to their full capacity yet.   So I would like to see some RAW BEGINNER projects on these.  Not so small they just make a few gates.  But rather some actual projects.  After all, even these small boards I bought are actually capable of doing quite sophisticated logic.   So I'd like to max them out first and only move up to more powerful boards after I have already been limited by what these boards can do.

So yeah I to vote for a video on FPGA and CPLD boards!  Especially for beginners.

But I don't see how these can be compared with microcontrollers as they aren't the same thing.

DroneBot Workshop Robotics Engineer
James


   
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Robo Pi
(@robo-pi)
Robotics Engineer
Joined: 5 years ago
Posts: 1669
 
Posted by: @anibal

Hello Pugwash,

 

I second the motion. I've notice alot of talk and articles abot FPGA's and I think it would be a good idea to get an introduction and how to use it on a practical and applicable way. I read one article on the subjct and I would like to see it in practice especally how it applies to DroneBot members practitioners. 

Best,

Anibal

I totally agree.  I would LOVE to see Bill do a video on these.  I just hope he does one with simple boards like I posted in my previous post.  It's discouraging to see videos on sophisticated FPGA or CPLD projects where you're basically just copying and pasting a bunch of VHDL or Verilog code and you really have no idea what's actually going on.

So I'm hoping for some really simple examples.

I'd also like to learn about software design packages other than Quartus II.  Quartus II is nice, but I'd like to see other alternatives if possible.

And nothing would be greater than to see others become interested in this and participate in a forum devoted to FPGA and CPDL design.  That would be super great. 😎 

 

DroneBot Workshop Robotics Engineer
James


   
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byron
(@byron)
No Title
Joined: 5 years ago
Posts: 1123
 

A couple of years ago when Arduino said they were going to do a FPGA board I thought I would investigate them.  I even bought an introductory book on them.  But when I appreciated what would be involved in getting up to speed on them, and also I could not really see a use case for them in my hobby tinkering I lost my urge to get one of these boards to play with.    However, things move on and it would be of interest if Bill decided to do an article on just where FPGA's could fit into the scheme of things from his perspective.  So I second (third or fouth?) this idea as it would be useful content even if its just to put me off this whole subject again. 😀  (like robo has done for me with AI 🤨)


   
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Robo Pi
(@robo-pi)
Robotics Engineer
Joined: 5 years ago
Posts: 1669
 

Here's a link to a site that might be interesting for anyone getting into FPGA and CPDL.

FPGA 4 Student

They also recommend some "Starter FPGA boards".  The ones they recommend range from about $30 to $100.   The ones I bought were only about $10 each.

FPGA Boards they recommend

There are also FPGA Arduino Shields avalable.  Typically costing from $30 upward"

Arduino FPGA Shield

This shield is pretty nice though because it also contains a lot of extras like a 6-axis IMU and more RAM.  It also can be used as a pre-programmed image processor.   So it's possible to use it without having a clue how to program it.   Just load programs in that have been written by others.

When used like this it might be a cost-effective way for image processing on an Arduino?   No real knowledge of FPGA design required.

DroneBot Workshop Robotics Engineer
James


   
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(@anibal)
Member
Joined: 4 years ago
Posts: 39
 

Good Evening:

I just discovered this fascinating Adrduino The Arduino MKR Vidor 4000. This is a new kind of development board which combines the high performance and flexibility of an FPGA with the Arduino's ease-of-use in a small form factor that is the distinctive trait of the MKR family of boards. It contains the Microchip SAMD21 micro controller and a Cyclone 10 FPGA.

I know noting about this but I was intruged when I stumbled across it coincidnetaly while plotting to give Bill more work to do. Perhaps this is a good start as far as FGPA's go? 

Best,

Anibal


   
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Robo Pi
(@robo-pi)
Robotics Engineer
Joined: 5 years ago
Posts: 1669
 
Posted by: @anibal

I just discovered this fascinating Adrduino The Arduino MKR Vidor 4000.

Adrduino The Arduino MKR Vidor 4000

Looks like a lot of fun.  And probably has a lot of support and projects too.

However, @ $75.00 it's a bit of an investment as well.

Still, for someone who doesn't mind spending the cash it does look pretty nice.

DroneBot Workshop Robotics Engineer
James


   
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Robo Pi
(@robo-pi)
Robotics Engineer
Joined: 5 years ago
Posts: 1669
 

Just to add my 2-cents on this.

While a video on how to use an expensive board like the Adrduino The Arduino MKR Vidor 4000 would be interesting to watch.  I wouldn't be likely to buy one.  Nor would I be likely to find information about a board like this very useful. 

I'd much rather see a very simple FPGA circuit programmed from the ground up.  Even if it's just a very simple logic circuit.

However, I think where these types of boards are going to be most popular are for people who just want to use pre-programmed FPGA projects for image recognition or whatever.  Just adding FPGA power to an Arduino without actually learning how to design a circuit in an FPGA.  

DroneBot Workshop Robotics Engineer
James


   
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(@pugwash)
Sorcerers' Apprentice
Joined: 5 years ago
Posts: 923
Topic starter  

@anibal, @byron, @robo-pi

After sleeping on it, I am not sure whether this was really a good suggestion of mine. But it certainly fed the imagination of some.

I think I would rather see Bill get back to DB1, rather than going off at tangents, like this one. I was hoping to see at least a working prototype within a year of starting but now I am not quite sure that that will come to pass. I just hope that Bill is not biting off more than he can chew, as his apparent willingness to satisfy his audience could well be his downfall.

You can please some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time but....

We all know how that ends!

It was certainly not my intention to ask for an in-depth tutorial on FPGAs. Just a brief intro about where they may be the better option. Furthermore, this may be a topic of interest to very few people, and probably just some research on the internet may satisfy these few!

 


   
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byron
(@byron)
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Posts: 1123
 

@pugwash, @robo-pi, @dronebot-workshop,  and any other interested parties. 

As the DB1 project just does not pull in a great number of youtube viewers and as Bill has other priorities outside the DroneBot Workshop interest, although it appears the Bill would like to continue with this project, understandably he may well find he is unable to put in the required time to really get this project moving.

It's just a thought but it may be the best way for the DB1 project to proceed would be for Bill to expand the project team in a collaborative effort which he could lead and direct, but leave the team members to do some of the grunt work.  The coordination of this sort of collaborative project is not to be underestimated and it may well be a non-starter or not where Bill wants to go, but I thought I would float it to see if anyone thinks this may be a good idea.  (I expect Robo-Pi would be directed to code up the motor control program 😎)


   
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(@anibal)
Member
Joined: 4 years ago
Posts: 39
 

@pugwash

Good morning, I’m in total agreement of going off on some tangent. If we are interested in expanding our horizons it shouldn’t be at Bill’s expense. He really does have a full plate and if I’m not mistaken he has expressed as much in one of his videos so I speak for myself and as I move forward will be more considerate to Bill and his excellent presentations.

Best,

Anibal 


   
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Robo Pi
(@robo-pi)
Robotics Engineer
Joined: 5 years ago
Posts: 1669
 

I agree with everyone.  I would rather see Bill focus on the DB1 project.  Getting side-tracked into FPGA and CPLD might be a serious distraction.

I was thinking that I should probably make a video on this for those who might be interested.  I could show what I've done with FPGA and CPLD so far.  It wasn't much, but I did both VHDL and the electronic schematic method, so I could share what I've done with those two methods.

I left off with it wanting to combine the two methods into a single project.  I was having extreme difficulty trying do that.  I'm pretty sure it is possible though.  I should probably go back and take another look at it.

I actually got into the FPGA/CPLD thing because of my interest in making hardware perceptrons.  So I'll definitely be getting that back out here at some point because I've been moving forward with my perceptron training.  (that refers to meme being trained to train perceptrons) 🤣 

Having said all of the above, I would love to find some others here on the forum who might be interested in FPGA/CPLD.  Even if it's just a small percent of the members.  Having a few people to share ideas with is better than nothing.  At least we could  have a thread for it and exchange ideas.

I'll see if I can dig out where I left off and if I can find all the files I'll try to make a video on it.  No promises of exactly when that might happen.  I'm going outside to cut an oak log into lumber right now.  Playing with electronics is supposed to be my hobby, not a full-time occupation. 😊 

DroneBot Workshop Robotics Engineer
James


   
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