Category Archives: VHDL

Back to a Little VHDL

VHDL keeps coming up in places and my VHDL is more than a little rusty so I was back doing some refresher last night and will likely do some more tonight.

I need to get back to a point where I can read VHDL and make reasonable sense of it (and perhaps make small changes without breaking too much). If I hit the point where I’m feeling comfortable with it again I may dig out the Spartan-6 board I have lying around and see about trying some real work programming it.

This is something that keeps coming up, but once the need fades off I find other things that are higher priority and never get past the early stages…need to reach basic fluency this time around.

System Level Design and FPGA Options

Reading a few things last night there seem to be new tools that work at a more abstract level than VHDL out there. Mentioned were System Verilog, SystemC and Handel-C. I’ll have to take a look sometime in the future. For the moment I suspect that VHDL will more than meet my immediate needs.

I’ve also been looking at FPGA choices a little bit. The Spartan-6 on the breakout board I’ve got looks about right for my initial sandbox work. I’d like to find smaller, larger and newer options for ongoing things…ideally something that is inexpensive enough to use as glue/support logic and can be worked with without needing a custom PCB. It is also clear that the Spartan line is getting old and that Xilinx is shifting FPGA focus towards newer designs such as the Artix

I’d like to look a bit at the CPLD end of the spectrum as these seem to promise smaller, cheaper glue options, perhaps even with less demanding packaging choices. Wondering if Altera has interesting options there…

VHDL and CAN books…

Looking at books on VHDL and CAN bus. My Xilinx Spartan 6 board arrived a couple of days ago and now I need to get to the point where I can make real use of it. I’ve been looking for books to give me more depth in VHDL and a bit more context on CAN and here’s what I’ve come up with…

I’ve found two basic types of books in this area. There are those aimed at  people with little or no digital design experience that spend lots of time explaining the basics of digital logic design and synchronous systems and those that work at taking someone with significant digital design experience and getting them up to speed on how to realize designs in VHDL.

I’ve done enough digital design in SSI/MSI/PALs back when I was doing that sort of thing for work that I’m looking for the latter sort of books and my list below reflects that.

Seems like a decent book on logic synthesis in VHDL. Less expensive than the other broad based book I located but seems a bit narrower in scope.




This book looks more comprehensive than the one above, but it is also more than twice as expensive. I’m thinking that I may get VHDL for Logic Synthesis for now and buy VHDL for Engineers later if I find I’m looking for more information.



This looks like the best CAN bus book I’ve seen so far. Another rather expensive text, but if it can give me a decent feel for how to best use the facilities CAN provides then it will be worth the money.

I can see a number of different ways to implement a protocol using the functionality that CAN makes avaialable but getting advice on what has worked for others will make it more likely that my first shot is sensible and effective.


I ran across this book after I saw the earlier ones (and in the context of the following volume that appears to provide more advances style and implementation approaches). I suspect this is likely a decent book…perhaps with more introductory digital design content than I’d generally prefer though. I may look closer at this one at some point.



I find myself frequently looking for books that go beyond the basics of syntax and function to discuss best practices and effective usage (and books with ‘effective’ in the title often seem to offer this sort of advice). This looks like an interesting book on the VHDL front from that perspective. I’ll likely buy one of the more general volumes above and read it through first, but once I’ve covered the basics, I’ll likely wind up here to try to refine my understanding and usage.

Just ordered an FPGA breakout board

I was reading a book on VHDL (I’ve had some contact, but long ago and somewhat tangential) last night.

I just ordered a Mojo v3 FPGA Development Board  from SparkFun so that I can do some more tangible experimentation with soft hardware 🙂 

It appears that Xilinx has a new version of their toolchain for the Spartan 6 FPGA that is on this board that works on windows 10. I’ll have to download the software and follow their instructions tonight or tomorrow night. I don’t have any specific project plans related to the board at the moment but for $75.00 or so it presents a great opportunity to play with VHDL on a real target.

I’ve been running into a few cases lately where it would be helpful to be better versed in VHDL and for home projects I can see many places where programmable logic would be superior to an embedded controller.