Oh, nice! If the price isn't too eye-watering I'll definitely be investing in one of these!
Since Arrow scre*ed me over the $99 SocKIT board (and I could barely get the money I paid for the SocKIT back form them, the cheating bastards!), I'm definitely looking for a new board, and this one is probably it.
Yup, exciting times! Strange, though, isn't it? For the last few years finding a board that has both a decent selection of ports and a good sized FPGA but doesn't cost the earth has been really difficult - and suddenly three such options appear almost simultaneously!
Yes, it is surprising, looks like with the move to 28nm wafers (not expected to be so cheap!) it became lots cheaper to produce bigger FPGAs. Or maybe it's just competition doing its thing
There are a few things to keep in mind with these SoC FPGAs though:
- while the embedded ARM CPUs are great, these are very complex beasts, and I doubt there is an easy way to do any bare-bones programming, so linux is a must.
- the AXI bus that connects the HPS and the FPGA parts is quite complex, with quite some latency and burst-oriented, so not a good match for low-latency short accesses
- it follows that accessing anything connected on the HPS side (in this case at least the SD card, USB OTG, UART) won't be so easy, especially using the SD card would be problematic for the minimig core - firstly, it is used to boot the HPS, and secondly, no direct access seems to be possible, and the manual for just the SD/MMC controller is 80 pages long :S
But on the other hand, running most of the minimig on the FPGA side and a CPU emulator on the ARM with local access to lots of fast memory might work great. I already did some experiments running a 68k simulator on a OR1200 core, and I don't think this is such a bad idea.
I guess all that would be needed is a small board with 2x joystick ports, 2xPS/2 ports and a microSD socket that could be used on any Terasic board with 2x20 GPIO connector. Maybe a few spare pins for SPI addons, like USB or ethernet.
Of course, a board like this one is usable for a lot of projects besides minimig