Hobbyists, students, and scientists use FPGA development boards to make all kinds of projects. Using just one board, they can make something that could be beneficial to the entire world. Here are some good FPGA boards to use.
The Parallella 18 is a desktop computer with a focus on parallel processing. The computer is a popular FPGA option among hobbyists and students, featuring the 2 core Xilinx Zynq 7Z010 ARM CPU and it’s co-processor, the 16 core Epiphany. The board also has 1GB of DDR3 SDRAM, ports for HDMI, USB, and Ethernet, storage via a micro SD card slot, and the ability to use as many as 48 GPIO pins. The board can run Linux, costs around $150, and is as small as a credit card.
The iCEstick is a fairly affordable board with a small form factor. For $35, anyone can have this tiny FPGA board that plugs right into the USB port of a computer. The board, developed by Lattice, is perfect technology for applications that require very little power or the usage of a battery, security and monitoring systems, or general prototyping done quickly. There are 5 LEDs and 16 I/Os on the board, with a Pmod interface for expansion connections and a IrDA transceiver for communication.
Another credit card sized FPGA board, the $199 MicroZed by AVNET uses a Xilinx Zynq 7000 processor along with DDR memory to function as a good module that can be a test environment or application platform. There aren’t a lot of interfaces on the board, but the I/O spots that it does have are broken out, making it easy to use a carrier card with it. The power of the board’s Dual ARM A9 cores should be enough to handle the needs of most users.
Altera Cyclone II
The Altera Cyclone II board by RioRand is one of the cheapest FPGA boards on the market, costing just a little over $20. Price isn’t the only thing that makes the board popular with consumers, as it is easy to use and has community support on its side. On the board is the EP2C5T144 chip, 3 LEDs for experiments, a 50M active crystal, and EPROM.
These boards can be used for multiple applications. Whatever a particular project calls for, one of these boards should get the job done.
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