27 November 2021

Multiplication with FPGA DSPs

Welcome back to my series covering mathematics and algorithms with FPGAs. I was initially going to look at real numbers in this part, but Project F is known for its practical, hands-on tutorials. So, I decided to dedicate a post to a topic usually ignored by introductory guides: multiplication with DSPs. We’ll cover real numbers in the next post. New to the series? Start with Numbers in Verilog. This post is a draft: improvements and additional content to come. Read more

30 September 2021

Numbers in Verilog

Welcome to my new series covering mathematics and algorithms with FPGAs. Whatever hardware you’re designing, you’re likely to be working with numbers. This series begins with the basics of Verilog numbers, covers simple mathematics, including division and CORDIC, before looking at more complex algorithms, such as data compression. In this first post, we examine how integers (whole numbers) are represented and dig into the challenges of signed numbers in Verilog. Read more

31 August 2021

Animated Shapes

Welcome back to Exploring FPGA Graphics. In the final part of our introductory graphics series, we’re looking at animation. We’ve already seen animation with hardware sprites, but double buffering gives us maximum creative freedom with fast, tear-free motion. We’ll be making extensive use of our designs from 2D Shapes, so have a look back at that post if you need a refresher on drawing shapes. In this series, we explore graphics at the hardware level and get a feel for the power of FPGAs. Read more

17 May 2021

Hello Arty - Part 3

Welcome back to our three-part FPGA tutorial with SystemVerilog and the Digilent Arty A7. In this third instalment, we build a countdown timer and model traffic lights. There’s a lot to get through this time: enums, case statements, button debouncing, shift registers, and the all-important finite state machine. A version for the Nexys Video will be available soon. New to the series? Start with part 1. Draft post: fixes and improvements to come. Read more

17 March 2021

2D Shapes

Welcome back to Exploring FPGA Graphics. Building on our designs in lines and triangles, we’ll draw rectangles, filled triangles and circles. We’ll finish off this part by drawing a castle with our shapes. 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

11 February 2021

Hello Nexys - Part 2

Welcome back to our three-part FPGA tutorial with SystemVerilog and the Digilent Nexys Video. 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. This post is also available for the Arty. New to the series? Start with part 1. Updated 2021-06-28. Get in touch with @WillFlux or open an issue on GitHub. Read more

28 January 2021

Lines and Triangles

Welcome back to Exploring FPGA Graphics. It’s time to turn our attention to drawing. Most modern computer graphics come down to drawing triangles and colouring them in. So, it seems fitting to begin our tour of drawing with triangles and the straight lines that form them. This post will implement Bresenham’s line algorithm in Verilog, creating lines, triangles, and even a cube (our first sort-of-3D graphic). In this series, we explore graphics at the hardware level and get a feel for the power of FPGAs. Read more

4 November 2020

Hello Nexys - Part 1

This three-part tutorial provides a quick introduction to FPGA development with SystemVerilog and the Digilent Nexys Video 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. I find working with FPGAs gives me a sense of delight so often lacking in modern software development. There’s something profoundly satisfying about designing at the hardware level, be it drawing graphics on a screen, producing sound from a speaker, or even implementing your own CPU from scratch. Read more

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 recreated Pong. In this part, we learn how to create colourful animated graphics with hardware sprites. Hardware sprites maintain much of the simplicity of our Pong design while offering much greater creative freedom. In the next part, we’ll create a demo that gives a taste of what’s possible with sprites. In this series, we explore graphics at the hardware level and get a feel for the power of FPGAs. Read more

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