Monthly Archives: June 2012

Industry News

What can give engineering students an edge in the real world?

As engineering scholars of college graduate and are thrown into the mess that we call the real world, many students may find that the skills learned in University are not directly applicable to their prospective careers. As important as the foundation and theory students may learn in school is, what exactly can newly-grad engineers do to gain an edge when it comes to actual development?

1) Open source projects

It wouldn’t be a surprise what if an interviewer asks you, “What open source project have you worked on before?” Having participated in an open-source project shows a variety of skills that are incredible useful, such as the skill to contribute to an on-going project. Open source projects most importantly demonstrate that you have a passion for whatever you may be doing, and that you are not just “in it to win it”.

2) Hobby projects

We love hobby projects. Not only does it make our products look good, we are stunned at the amazing creativity that students are able to display through some boards, wiring, and handicraft. Not only is this a great way to hone your skills, hobby projects get featured all the time such as on Hackaday, Hacked Gadgets, Circuit Cellar, and other media, and the community is growing fast.

3) Design Competitions

At Terasic, we host an annual competition, the Altera InnovateAsia Design Contests, which showcases various student works through university, and simply said, it is amazing what some students can accomplish in a short time span of a semester to a few semesters. Companies are always on the lookout for fresh talent, so demonstrating your skills of electronics design through a gold medal is not too shabby.

4) Presentation

Unfortunately, the bane of many engineers is also a key ingredient to success. From walking into the door in an interview, to presenting your ideas to others in the office, presentation is what will make you stand out above all. Tying in with number 3, we have witnessed various student presentations from InnovateAsia, and simply said, presentation counts for a lot. So even if it’s not in your natural affinity to puff out your chest and scream to the world just how absolutely awesome you are, practice, practice, and practice.



Industry News

DE0-Nano hooked up to a PSP screen!

Rarely do we see a project that integrates hardware and software all completed by one hobbyist. That’s what makes this project so amazing. Florian from eStuffz has posted his recent project involving driving a PSP screen with a DE0-Nano Cyclone IV E FPGA development kit. The Sharp LQ043 is a TFT display measuring 4.3″ across, and as the module has no direct means of connecting to the FPGA dev kit, Florian fabricates his own PCB to support connecting to the 40-pin expansion headers, and then goes own to describe the various challenges in terms of soldering and how to overcome them. In the end, we can see that Florian uses the embedded CPU, Nios II, to drive the on-screen display, using the on-board SDRAM as a frame buffer.



Industry News

Terasic x Dresslands Bodycon Floral Dress

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Industry News

Cornell ECE5760 – A Great FPGA Design Resource

Cornell ECE5760

If you’ve never had the chance to stop by Cornell’s ECE5760 page, please do so now. Lead by lecturer Bruce Land, the ECE 5760 page is one of the most expansive resources on FPGA design. Not only does it list out curriculum of the course including reading materials and lab assignments, Bruce Land has also cataloged student final projects since 2006. That’s around the time the first DE2 came out! The student projects themselves are extremely thorough, including full project descriptions to source files for download! And every year, we get to see more amazing projects from the brilliant students of this class. Below, we can see some awesome projects developed over the past few years…

Falling Sand Game

Motion Pong

Game of Life

Industry News

DE0-Nano getting a mini upgrade!

The loveable little DE0-Nano is getting a mini upgrade – courtesy to our friends over at Spansion!

The exact upgrade will be to the EPCS flash memory serial configuration device. The previous part was a 16Mb flash device, but will now be upgraded to a heftier 64Mb device, the S25FL064, from Spansion, which will have the exact same properties as the old Altera EPCS device, but with higher density.

Can you notice the difference?

Industry News

DE4 NetFPGA Platform released!

The NetFPGA program has been ported to the DE4 Stratix IV GX FPGA Development Kit! For the uninitiated, the NetFPGA platform is a powerful open source networking platform for prototyping high-speed, hardware-accelerated networking systems. Primarily aimed for students and researchers, the NetFPGA is a great solution for learning gigabit Ethernet interfaces, networking protocols, and more.

The heart of the platform is the FPGA development board that provides the hardware peripherals and connectivity. Utilizing an FPGA provides a low-cost, highly agile method of experimenting with different kinds of network solutions.

Until recently, the only development board available was a Xilinx Virtex II board, but that has changed recently. With the support of Altera, the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s Reconfigurable Computing Group has successfully ported it over to the Altera DE4 FPGA Development and Education Kit.

You might question why this is important. If there was already a hardware platform available for the NetFPGA, why port it over to another one? The main (obvious) advantage is that researchers who are used to Altera design tools now have an Altera alternative to choose. The second advantage lies in the feature set of the DE4.

DE4 Rich Featureset

The University Page says it the best:

With the growing requirements of recent research projects, the small size of NetFPGA’s on-board Virtex II Pro 50 (about 53,000 LUTs) limits its usefulness for many applications. Moreover, the 33 MHz NetFPGA PCI interface is a bottleneck for host-card data transfer.

On the DE4 board, the EP4SGX230 FPGA (about 228,000 LUTs) has more than 5 times logic elements. The board also has a larger BRAM, supports up to 8GB external DRAM, and supports PCI Express.

Also featured is a comparison chart between the two boards:

DE4 vs Xilinx Board Comparison Chart

Be sure to check out more at the U of M page for more information on how to obtain the software and FPGA configuration files.

It’s an exciting time for network experimentation, with more applications being uploaded to the wiki page everyday. Be sure to participate in the movement by uploading your own creations and sharing knowledge with the open source world!


Industry News

FPGA to FPGA Video Transmission

Video to video FPGA transmission? Possible with the VEEK-MT development kit! Tailored for video and image processing, we’re showcasing the VEEK-MT’s awesomely integrated features by performing video transmission between two kits. Utilizing the VGA output to TV input from each of the kits, we’re able to broadcast the opposite camera feeds. Video with more details below:

Industry News

Running Quartus II with a Mac? No problem.

I recently just bought a Macbook Air (lovely piece of machinery), only to have a horrifying question dawn on me.

Will my Macbook Air run Quartus II? (insert scared face here)

The answer is no. No version of the Mac OS will natively support current versions of Quartus II and Nios II EDS. But the answer is also fortunately yes! Macbook comes with a great software known as Parallels, which runs Quartus II without a hitch.

Mac USB Connection with Quartus II

  1. Install Parallels, Windows 7, and USB Blaster drivers.
  2. Connect FPGA board to Mac
  3. ???
  4. Profit!
Programming the DE0-Nano with a Macbook Air

Programming the DE0-Nano with a Macbook Air