30 October 2020

Framebuffers

Welcome back to Exploring FPGA Graphics. In the previous two parts, we worked with sprites, but another approach is needed as graphics become more complex. Instead of drawing directly to the screen, we draw to a framebuffer, which is read out to the screen. This post provides an introduction to framebuffers and how to scale them up. We’ll also learn how to fizzlefade graphics Wolfenstein 3D style. In the next part, we’ll use a framebuffer to visualize a simulation of life. Read more

28 October 2020

Hardware Sprites

Welcome back to Exploring FPGA Graphics. In the previous part, we updated our display signals and learnt about colour palettes. This part shows you how to create fast, colourful graphics with minimal logic. Hardware sprites maintain much of the simplicity of our Pong design while offering greater creative freedom. This post was completely revised in June 2022. In this series, we explore graphics at the hardware level and get a feel for the power of FPGAs. Read more

22 September 2020

Life on Screen

Welcome back to Exploring FPGA Graphics. In this post we’re going to use the designs we created in Framebuffers to experiment with Conway’s Game of Life. This post was last updated in January 2022. In this series, we explore graphics at the hardware level and get a feel for the power of FPGAs. We’ll learn how displays work, race the beam with Pong, animate starfields and sprites, paint Michelangelo’s David, simulate life with bitmaps, draw lines and shapes, and create smooth animation with double buffering. Read more

30 July 2020

FPGA Pong

Welcome back to Exploring FPGA Graphics. Last time, we raced the beam; this time, we’ll recreate the classic arcade Pong and play against our FPGA. This post was last updated in June 2022. This post was completely revised in April 2022. In this series, we explore graphics at the hardware level and get a feel for the power of FPGAs. We’ll learn how screens work, play Pong, create starfields and sprites, paint Michelangelo’s David, simulate life, draw lines and triangles, and animate characters and shapes. Read more

10 June 2020

Ad Astra

Welcome back to Exploring FPGA Graphics. In the previous part we learnt how to create hardware sprites. In this sixth part, we create a demo by combining our knowledge of sprites with animated starfields. This post is based on my earliest FPGA designs from 2018, so it works differently from the rest of the series. I am working on a revised version for later in 2022. In this series, we explore graphics at the hardware level and get a feel for the power of FPGAs. Read more

20 May 2020

Beginning FPGA Graphics

Welcome to Exploring FPGA Graphics. In this series, we explore graphics at the hardware level and get a feel for the power of FPGAs. We’ll learn how screens work, play Pong, create starfields and sprites, paint Michelangelo’s David, simulate life, draw lines and triangles, and animate characters and shapes. Along the way, you’ll experience a range of designs and techniques, from memory and finite state machines to crossing clock domains and translating C algorithms into Verilog. Read more

6 May 2020

Hello Arty - Part 2

Welcome back to our three-part FPGA tutorial with SystemVerilog and the Digilent Arty A7. In part two, we’re going to learn about clocks and counting. Along the way, we’ll cover maintaining state with flip-flops, timing things with clock dividers, creating our first Verilog module, and controlling LEDs with pulse width modulation. You might be surprised how far counting takes you: by the end of this tutorial, you’ll be creating RGB lighting effects worthy of a cheesy gaming PC. Read more

24 April 2020

Hello Arty - Part 1

This three-part tutorial provides a quick introduction to FPGA development with SystemVerilog and the Digilent Arty A7 board. No prior experience of FPGA development is required, but basic knowledge of programming concepts is assumed. If you can write a simple program with Python or JavaScript, you shouldn’t have any trouble. This post was last updated in June 2021. I find working with FPGAs gives me a sense of delight so often lacking in modern software development. Read more

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