The last installment I mentioned how I branched out in my tinkering, and bought a basic FPGA board to play with. While the major makers (Alterra (now Intel) and Xilinx both have prototype boards, they are typically focused on the high end, and are quite expensive. I bought the Embedded Micro “Mojo” board, a modestly priced unit with a suitably powerful Xilinx Spartan6 FPGA.
I did get the IDE working, it is a pretty simple Java application, however, it requires a pretty hefty development package from Xilinx, their ISE Design Suite tools. As that is supported only on Windows and Linux, it does force me to keep a functioning Windows system around. Following the instructions was pretty straightforward, and I had to apply for a webPACK license (free) to use the toolchain. Simple, but it was a monstrous download (about 7 gigabytes). Continue reading →