Author Archives: terasic-allen

Booting uCLinux on the DE2-115 with Nios II

uCLinux on DE2-115

uCLinux on DE2-115


Johan Granath has written in with a special treat for everyone: booting uLinux on the DE2-115! For those that have not touched this brand of linux as yet, uCLinux is a special distribution of Linux intended for microcontrollers ( The document listed below a step-by-step instruction how to set up a Nios 2 CPU system with MMU for use with uCLinux, written in VHDL with an Avalon bus and kernel module to interface with custom user hardware, and updated to be built with Qsys.


DE2-115 with Cyclone IV E

DE2-115 with Cyclone IV E


For more the full documentation, see this link:



A Configurable Platform for the Emulation of Different Computer Architectures.

From Jose Pablo Pinilla and Alfredo Gualdrón of the Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana Colombia, we have a new paper featuring research based on realizing a configurable platform for emulation of different computer architectures, known as XISCKER (Reduced and Complex Instruction Set Computing Key Educational Resources).

This is a project planned to illustrate the structure and operational foundations of Central Processing Units, through the implementation of a configurable system with two processors, one RISC (Reduced Instruction Set Computing) and one CISC (Complex Instruction Set Computing), on an FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array), along with a programming and monitoring user interface software.

Computer Architecture embraces all three aspects of a processor design: instruction set, functional estructure and hardware implementation. The main architectures are RISC (Reduced Instruction Set Computing) and CISC (Complex Instruction Set Computing) which led to x86 as we still recognize now. Both designs bring electronics or computer science students the basic concepts they should learn.

Therefore, this project brings an opportunity to learn this basic concepts through the HDL description in Verilog of two processors (One for each architecture) implemented on FPGA devices (Xilinx and Altera), together with strong documentation, common assembly language instructions and support software.

Paper XISCKER EN.pdf (page 1 of 3)-1

A RISC processor instruction set and organization is designed so that it represents this architecture’s characteristics, such as: A large amount of registers, few Instructions of the same width and logical-arithmetic operations only between registers.
This processor’s structure is similar to the Multi-cycle MIPS described by Patterson and Hennessy [1] in order to facilitate the change between this system and a commercial MIPS-based processor in terms of code compatibility and structural behavior.

Paper XISCKER EN.pdf (page 1 of 3)

This CISC processor is based on the instruction set of the Motorola (now Freescale) HC08 and HC11 series which symbolizes the characteristics of CISC Architecture, with features like: Small set of registers with specific purposes, several addressing modes and therefore a large amount of instructions with different widths. Figure 3 contains a diagram that represents the main units and signals of this processor.

Paper XISCKER EN.pdf (page 2 of 3)

The X-ISCKER platform delivers the Verilog HDL description of two processors, an IDE software and the documentation that will allow new learners to familiarize with computer architecture foundations, and computer designers to come up with custom embedded processor solutions to their applications.

For more information and source code, please visit

Altera Announces a New Partnership with Terasic as Global Kit Reseller

Altera Corporation (Nasdaq: ALTR) has announced that Terasic Technologies, Inc., is now an official Altera Global Kit Reseller, giving Terasic the capability to

market and distribute all Altera official development kits. Altera’s development kits comprise of programmable hardware design solutions that span the entire Altera family, including the low-power, cost-efficient MAX CPLDs up to top-of-the-line Stratix FPGAs. For the full range of Altera kit solutions, please visit .

Terasic was founded in 2003 with the goal of providing educational programmable development kits that emphasized real-world applications, helping drive the success of the Altera University Program with the line of extremely popular Development and Education (DE) boards. Since then, Terasic has expanded its design applications to various fields such as prototyping, industrial, medical, financial, and more. As of 2007, Terasic has also established itself as the official manufacturing partner – and sometimes designer – for Altera kits as well.

Terasic’s success lies in the ability to provide full-bundle customized solutions , combining development kits with an assortment of daughter cards which focus on a wide range of applications including networking, storage, multimedia, interface conversion, and AD/DA. For the full list of daughter cards, please visit . With over 30 available daughter cards, engineers have access to hundreds of different configurations to fully meet their project specifications and requirements.

Alongside hardware, Terasic also provides open-source IP that is packaged with every product, allowing users to set up a fully functional design without having to touch any code. In addition, bundled with every kit is system generation software that

allows for easy selection of daughter cards to generate a top-level design in seconds, without the need for tedious pin assignments. The software allows for the customers to focus on what’s truly important – design.

“By enabling Terasic to become a formal reseller of Altera development kits, customers will be buying from a company that already has extensive experience in this field, a company that really cares about the success and satisfaction of world-wide development kit users,” states Terasic CEO Sean Peng. Mr. Peng further added, “Given our manufacturing partnership with Altera, our knowledge of the products is through and through, allowing us to provide the absolute best technical support for customers.”

With the newly announced partnership as a Global Kit Reseller, Terasic aims to leverage its expertise in providing bundle solutions to the existing base of consumers, as well as capture new markets. The addition of Altera development kits will enable an even more robust set of solutions and applications. Terasic hopes to benefit customers with its “one-stop shop” philosophy, broad development kit experience, and professional, dedicated support.

Terasic’s Stratix V FPGA Kits Named One of the 2012 Hot 100 Products by EDN

Terasic today announced that EDN has named Terasic’s Stratix V FPGA Development Kits as one of the “100 Hot Products of 2012”. The 2012 EDN Hot 100 highlights the electronics industry’s most significant products of the year based on innovation, significance, usefulness, and popularity.

To fulfill the design needs that demand high speed, advanced memory interfacing, and the highest logic capacity, Terasic has just announced a host of new FPGA boards for tackling high-bandwidth applications such as high frequency trading, data acquisition, networking, and signal processing.

The boards come in three flavors: the TR5-Lite , which features a conveniently small form-factor; the DE5-NET , which maximizes memory, speed, and bandwidth capabilities; and the TR5-F40W , which promotes flexibility and feature expansion.

“As future high frequency trading and networking applications are leaning towards utilizing FPGAs with high-bandwidth memory architectures, Terasic aims to leverage its proximity to high-quality manufacturers to deliver cost-competitive state-of-the-art solutions for today’s high performance computing and finance industry,” states Terasic CEO Sean Peng.

See more

Altera InnovateAsia 2012 Underway!

Just recently we had teams from all over Taiwan visit us at our Terasic headquarters to showcase months of hard work and creativity. The InnovateAsia 2012 design competition is an annual event held by Terasic and Altera which features student innovation and allows teams from universities to go head to head against each other with FPGA designs that integrate multimedia, robotics, and much more. Here are some of the highlights:

1) T-Shirt Design and Try-On System


2) Air Band


3) Self-balancing Unicycle


Check out these and more at the InnovateAsia 2012 Design Competition Youtube channel:

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.



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.



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

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?

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!