[Coco] FPGA VS Software Emulators

Steve Strowbridge ogsteviestrow at gmail.com
Thu Jul 27 13:13:33 EDT 2017

Going to throw out the question one last time before I move on, but I need
to lock in a topic for this weeks' show and love to have some of the juicy
bits we've been talking about here part of a verbal discussion for a global
audience, is anybody interested in joining this week's CoCo TALK to discuss
hardware and software emulation, FPGA, DEC/NANO CoCo implementations, etc?

Need to hear from you via email and get you added as a Skype contact ahead
of time, and would also like to do at least Skype test with interested
parties before going live.

My email is ogStevieStrow at gmail.com my Skype ID is ogStevieStrow, if I
don't get any confirmations by Friday, I'll move on.

Steve Strowbridge, aka
The Original Gamer Stevie Strow
Website/Merchandise/CoCo links page:
Email:  ogsteviestrow at gmail.com
Get your "Game Play Goodnes" fix of CoCo and retro videos at:

On Wed, Jul 26, 2017 at 11:41 PM, Salvador Garcia via Coco <
coco at maltedmedia.com> wrote:

> Hi Brain,
> Was the Xilinx CPLD dev board that you bought something like this:
> http://www.ebay.com/itm/Xilinx-XC9572XL-AMS-CPLD-
> development-learning-board-test-board-4-programm-LED-/311567009196
> Thanks, Salvador
> On ‎Wednesday‎, ‎July‎ ‎26‎, ‎2017‎ ‎09‎:‎34‎:‎27‎ ‎AM‎ ‎CDT, RETRO
> Innovations <go4retro at go4retro.com> wrote:
> On 7/26/2017 1:54 AM, Walter Zambotti wrote:
> > Where did all of you learn your FPGA programming skills?
> I was where you were 5 years ago.  I could see that developing for
> microcontrollers would not allow me to support certain projects, so I
> decided to learn VHDL or Verilog.  I even bought an FPGA board to learn
> FPGAs.
> And then it sat on the shelf for a few years.
> The board was not cheap, and it bothered me that I had not done anything
> with it.
> So, in 2015, I tried to determine why I had not gotten anywhere with the
> FPGA.  I realized that I learn things not by running sample programs
> ("Hello World", et al), but by hooking things up to classic machines and
> doing real things.  And, interfacing the FPGA to classic machines was
> difficult (level translators, hard to physically wire the dev board up
> to my computers, etc.)  Verilog and VHDL was daunting as well, and the
> tooling was a challenge to learn.
> Thus, I bought a small CPLD dev board, one from eBay with a xc9572xl on
> it.  It's a tiny board, with some pin headers ala Arduino, and had 5V
> tolerant IOs right off the board.  I bought a small programmer, dloaded
> the XIlinx tools, and quickly wired up a LED blinker and programmed the
> board.  Success.  That small success gave me enough push to continue to
> wade through the complexities of the tool, the language, and the hardware.
> Next up was wiring up some LEDs to a "latch" that was decoded on the
> computer bus.  Then, by doing poke address,value, I got various LEDs lit
> up.
> Along the way, I blew up the little CPLD board.  Felt bad about that for
> about 2 minutes, and then ordered a new one from eBay.  I burned
> $10.00.  If I had messed up my FPGA board, which I think was $170.00,
> I'd have felt bad a lot longer.
> Eventually, I outgrew the dev board, and I am writing more complex HDL
> code (I chose Verilog, mainly because I'm pretty comfy with C, though
> others have noted that you can't assume logic flow works like C apps.)
> I have never used a simulator, though iVerilog is a good choice, if you
> want to investigate and you're writing in Verilog.  I personally just
> like seeing actual output.
> So, I highly recommend starting with the small CPLD ICs and working your
> way up.  I think it also fits the spirit of classic computing. Anecdotal
> evidence suggests developers who first worked on classic machines like
> the Coco handle systems with more resources better. Newer developers
> grew up in environments with gigabytes of RAM and gigahertz of CPU
> speeds, so they focus less on optimization and other related
> activities.  But, unlike PCs today, there are still reasons to optimize
> VHDL or Verilog, especially in this arena where there are limits to how
> many money people will invest in an FPGA solution that atatches to or
> replicates a classic machine.
> Jim
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