I’m quite curious how others forsee using these FPGA boards - primarily with or primarily without an MCU/CPU?
You see, based on my professional experiences, I have probably developed some biases and could use a sanity check.
With this new board, I’m hoping to (a) test drive the FPGA board, to see if it would be a good teaching tool for interested, but less experienced members of my team and (b) use the board to make something beyond Hello World, in order to get a realistic idea of the workflow & complexity involved with something non-trivial.
Anyway, in the past, I’ve/we’ve used a pretty large range programmable devices (CPLDs, FPGAs), from ~10 USD to ~1000 USD. In all of these cases - even ones that used the NIOS (soft core processor), CPUs or MCUs were always present to do most of the boring stuff that they’re good at.
For example, we happen to require fairly high-speed (typically 1Gbps, plus or minus an order of magnitude) wired Ethernet with both TCP/IP and non-IP traffic. This is all totally doable with an FPGA, but it’s a hassle, adds the development cost and most likely adds to the BOM cost, due to the larger logic footprint and potential use of 3rd party IP. So, for several reasons, the best solutions always seemed to be those with companion processors.
Back to the original question, I’m wondering of whether my CPU/MCU + FPGA experience/perspective is unique, and most users are planning an FPGA-centric configuration. Or, are many users planning to use the FPGA as a compute or high-speed digital interfacing peripheral, with a more conventional processor pumping data in and/or out?
(FWIW, my testbed project will be using a Teensy 3.x - a platform that’s been great for test fixtures.)
How do you plan to use the FPGA board?