Saturday, March 16, 2013

Target Board DE0-Nano

Now I’d rather stop carrying logics on and on, and go for making a real circuit.
I’ve been looking for a target board, and found one right in point: DE0-Nano by Terasic Technologies Inc.
This cheap board costing below 80 dollars employs Cyclone IV, which can accommodate a relatively large circuit, probably with 8 or more up to 16 cores.  Also accompanying A/D converter, acceleration sensor and SDRAM, it allows users to try many gadgets without any external tools.

The few but crucial shortcomings of this board are that it has only on-board 8 LEDs for displaying and that it allows access from the JTAG configuration cable as the basically only way to communicate with host PC.
JTAG-UART will help that communication, if you use it, but SOPC Builder is the last choice for me to use, because I am introducing such a technique to be compatible with Xilinx in the future.

Compare to Arduino enabling serial communication just with a download cable….

As logic synthesis for multi-core processor takes a certain amount of time, it makes no sense if we have to do it again from the beginning every time we renew a software — the free Web Edition doesn’t support incremental compilation yet.

If the board can communicate with host PC, it enables downloading software without logic synthesis, greatly enhancing efficiency in development work.  Furthermore, if the board can communicate with custom application software in real-time, it will expand the sphere of what we can apply this technology to.

Once I was almost disappointed at finding only such desperate efforts as to forcefully redirect console I/O of the integrated environment through the web.
It looked so impossible until I found a free JTAG tool, UrJTAG, enables access to the board.  Taking it as a clue, I’ve reached how to control USB Blaster by Java with JNA (though it is tested only with equivalent capabilities of DE0-Nano, and not with a real USB Blaster yet).

I’m going to upload this kind of information from time to time….