ChipHack: Introduction to FPGA programming

Here is an interesting FPGA course put together to help people learn the basics of writing Verilog.

ChipHack aims to provide a gentle introduction to FPGA programming using the Verilog hardware description language (HDL) and is:

  • a set of learning materials and workshop notes; and
  • an event.

No prior experience with HDLs and FPGA workflows is assumed, but some programming experience and an understanding of basic digital electronics is required.


RetroArch project running on FPGA.

We ran across this post recently and thought we would share it in case anyone has any more information about this. Can it be ported to a Papilio board?

RetroArch FPGA – cores are beginning to run!



Consider this project still in an experimental phase – but cores are already beginning to run! What you see is a FPGA devboard with RetroArch that is outputting a random libretro core to the screen.

It’s still far too premature to speculate on what this project will amount to ultimately, and what our future plans are for it, but we felt we ought to share with you this latest breakthrough in development since it has taken quite a while to get there!

Full post via Patreon

XC6BP – FPGA ‘Bus Pirate’

Here is an interesting project that we somehow missed. It’s an FPGA based clone of the Dangerous Prototypes Bus Pirate. Looks cool, would love to get this running on the Papilio FPGA.


A FPGA based design with a soft CPU and USB device interface implemented in Verilog.
This design uses an OpenRISC compatible CPU (my AltOR32 implementation) running at 48MHz (a convenient speed for USB) and features cut-down USB 1.1 (Full Speed), SPI and GPIO interfaces.

via Ultra-Embedded

FPGA in the cloud at Amazon AWS?

In the last blog post we touched on the Amazon AWS FPGA resources that are available to build cloud services that are powered by FPGA’s. In doing further research we came across this nice blog post that goes into further detail about this FPGA offering by Amazon.


It is unique in that you can write VHDL/Verilog code to accomplish a task that is well suited to an FPGA and then easily package them up for sale on the AWS marketplace:

 In addition to building applications and services for your own use, you will be able to package them up for sale and reuse in AWS Marketplace.  Putting it all together, you will be able to avoid all of the capital-intensive and time-consuming steps that were once a prerequisite to the use of FPGA-powered applications, using a business model that is more akin to that used for every other type of software. We are giving you the ability to design your own logic, simulate and verify it using cloud-based tools, and then get it to market in a matter of days.

They even take the drudgery out of installing and using the Xilinx development tools by packaging everything up into a pre-installed Amazon Machine Instance (think virtual machine):

This AMI includes a set of developer tools that you can use in the AWS Cloud at no charge. You write your FPGA code using VHDL or Verilog and then compile, simulate, and verify it using tools from the Xilinx Vivado Design Suite (you can also use third-party simulators, higher-level language compilers, graphical programming tools, and FPGA IP libraries).

We would love to see if we could do the same thing with Xilinx ISE to help new Papilio users get started out without the huge download and time sink of the 6GB install.

The FPGA that you use is not a physical device that you purchase and have on your desktop, instead it is a PCI card with a powerful FPGA chip embedded in an Amazon server that you expose to the cloud once it runs your custom code… Pretty cool. brings cloud computing and Go language to FPGA development.

A new startup over at is working on a cloud computing solution that uses the Go programming language to solve problems that need the flexibility and power of an FPGA. They are providing a high level compiler that lets you code for their FPGA solution using Go instead of VHDL or Verilog. It is also intended to allow a more familiar toolchain/build process that is cloud based. Part of the difficulty with current FPGA development is dealing with the toolchain and learning VHDL or Verilog, they aim to solve both of these problems…

It’s not clear what hardware they are targeting with their Go toolchain but best guess is that they are using Amazon’s FPGA resources rather then a physical board like the Papilio FPGA. Nonetheless this is an interesting FPGA company to keep watching and maybe even sign up for their alpha program…