Xilinx FPGA boards for beginners

As a FPGA website for beginners or students, I always look for good and cheap Xilinx FPGA boards for beginners. There are many cheap Xilinx FPGA boards, but many of them are not easy to use especially for students or beginners; they do not offer onboard 7-segment LEDs, switches, LCD, RS232/ VGA port, other needed peripherals for beginners playing around with the board. Many FPGA boards from Xilinx are very user-friendly and they provide many onboard devices, but the price is not affordable for beginners.

Today, I will present my most recommended and affordable Xilinx FPGA development boards for beginners or students. These FPGA boards are affordable and offer all beginners need for their practice and academic projects. 


The most recommended and affordable Xilinx FPGA boards for students

The reasons why this Xilinx Spartan 3A FPGA Board is an excellent choice and recommended for beginners are as follows:

  • On board Xilinx FPGA Spartan 3A: XC3S50A-TQG144 
  • Only 29.95USD: affordable FPGA Board for beginners
  • 8 single LEDs, 6 buttons, 8 Switches, 3 7-segment LEDs, other 39 IOs 
  • On board Audio Codec, VGA port, Micro SD card 
  • Good English documentation and sample code for the FPGA board 
  • Good feedback and reviewed by many students 
  • Another good point is the FPGA board supplier provides a configuration tool to program the FPGA board via JTAG/ USB programming cable. Thus, you can program the Xilinx FPGA board using normal Laptops or PCs. Of course, you need to use Xilinx ISE for generating the programming bitstream file.
The supplier provides a very good quality FPGA board with many peripherals for playing and also offers a very low price. Another important thing is the FPGA board supports FPGA configuration via JTAG/ USB programming cable. Personally, I think this FPGA board is the best choice for beginners. 

If the supplier of this FPGA board can add more 7-segment LEDs, RS232 port for serial communications or onboard LCD for text displaying, the FPGA board can be even more and more attractive to beginners.

2. Xilinx Spartan 6 FPGA Board From AliExpress (23.66USD)

The most recommended and affordable Xilinx FPGA boards for students

Following are the very good points from the Spartan 6 FPGA Board to make this FPGA board recommended and affordable for beginners:

  • On board Xilinx FPGA Spartan 6: XC6SLX9-TQG144
  • Only 23.66USD: a bit cheaper FPGA Board vs the above FPGA board, an affordable FPGA board for beginners
  • 12 single LEDs, 8 7-segment LEDs, Switches, other IOs which are very good for beginners to try simple projects
  • On board I2C, VGA, UART port for serial communications
  • On board PS/2 keyboard port
  • Offer both Verilog/ VHDL sample code, bit file to test the FPGA board
  • Good English documentation for the FPGA board
  • Good feedback and reviewed by many students
The only disadvantage of these kinds of custom FPGA boards is that it is not supported by Xilinx ISE  to download the programming file to the FPGA board. The programming file may be generated by Xilinx ISE, but it will need another downloader to download the programming file to the FPGA board. Unfortunately, the downloader of this FPGA board does not support FPGA programming via JTAG/USB cable and they use a parallel downloader cable (JTAG + the old LPT Port) as shown in the following picture. Students must have a PC with the LPT port to download the programming file to the FPGA board.

The most recommended and affordable Xilinx FPGA boards for students

3. Mimas V2 Xilinx Spartan 6 FPGA Board 49.95USD

The most recommended and affordable Xilinx FPGA boards for students

This FPGA board is also provided by the same FPGA board supplier as the Elbert V2 FPGA board, so they also offer the following good features for the FPGA board:

  • On board Xilinx FPGA Spartan 6: XC6SLX9-CSG324 
  • Only 49.95USD: a bit higher price than the Elbert V2 version, but it is still an affordable FPGA board for beginners. 
  • The difference is the onboard 512Mb DDR SDRAM, and the other features are similar to the Elber V2 FPGA board. 
  • 8 single LEDs, 6 buttons, 8 Switches, 3 7-segment LEDs, other 32 user-defined IOs. 
  • On board Audio Codec, VGA port, Micro SD card 
  • JTAG/ USB programming cable for FPGA programming
  • Good documentation, sample code for testing the FPGA board and good feedback from students

4.  Xilinx Basys 3 Artix-7 FPGA Board for beginners 79USD 

The most recommended and affordable Xilinx FPGA boards for students

The Xilinx Basys 3 FPGA Board is of course perfectly designed and suited for beginners or students. That's why the FPGA board is very popular in university's labs for students courses. The Xilinx FPGA board is also designed for the latest design suite Xilinx Vivado (Free Webpack Version available). Following are the good features of the recommended and affordable Xilinx Basys 3  FPGA board:

  • Xilinx Artix-7 FPGA: XC7A35T-1CPG236C
  • 79$ affordable if you can get academic pricing as a student, 149$ for normal price
  • 16 single LEDs, 16 switches, 5 buttons, 4 7-segment LEDs
  • USB-UART bridge for serial communications
  • VGA port, onboard XADC, 4 PMOD ports
  • USB host for keyboard/ mice
  • Of course, students will never worry about programming cable. The FPGA board offers JTAG-USB port for FPGA programming.
The only thing that beginners may feel uncomfortable is the price of the FPGA board. However, you can't expect a lower price with this perfect FPGA board for beginners. The FPGA board offers way better onboard I/O devices and all needed FPGA support circuits; it is super easy to use and provided by a reliable FPGA board supplier. Thus, this Xilinx FPGA board is still a very good choice for students or beginners.
Above are my four recommended, but affordable Xilinx FPGA boards for beginners or students. The Xilinx FPGA boards provide many I/O devices and supporting circuits for student's practice and importantly the FPGA boards price is affordable for beginners. 
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4 comments:

  1. Xilinx Basys 3 Artix-7 FPGA Board for students is $79 academic price

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks :).
      I just login and see the updated academic price for Basys 3.
      99$ is academic price for Basys 2.
      79$ is academic price for Basys 3.
      I updated the post.

      Delete
  2. Which Xilnix version will be compatible with "Xilinx Spartan 6 FPGA Board From AliExpress (23.66USD)"?
    I have ISE Design Suite 14.2. Also how will the code be uploaded onto the FPGA?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Xilinx ISE 14.2 supports the Spartan 6. Vivado no longer support Spartan 6.
      The FPGA Board supplier will send you a downloader software and you will use it to download the programming file(.bit file generated by Xilinx ISE) to the FPGA board. Your PC needs to have LPT port for the downloader cable.

      Delete

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