FPGA CPU News of September 2001


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Thursday, September 6, 2001
Prototyping platforms
XESS has introduced a new prototyping board, the XSA-100. It has the form factor as the good old XS40 that the XSOC Kit targets, but this new board features a Spartan-2-100, 16 MB of SDRAM, and 256 KB of FLASH. (Gone is the 8031.) $279. It looks like it could make a nice platform. The larger FPGA, the built-in configuration memory, and especially the SDRAM, should make for some pretty cool projects.
"We have parameterized modules for interfacing to the PS/2 keyboard port, displaying images through the VGA port, and reading/writing to the synchronous DRAM as if it were a simple static RAM."
Great. That last point should go a long way towards making SDRAM accessible to students and other entry-level digital designers.

The other low-cost Xilinx prototyping platform we're keeping our eyes on is the Burch Electronic Designs B3-Spartan2+.

Speaking of which, where do you suppose www.fpgacpu.com redirects to?

Microsoft drops MIPS... again
Charles J. Murray, EE Times: Microsoft refocuses Pocket PC platform.

"At the same time, however, Microsoft surprised some industry experts by narrowing the list of processors that the Pocket PC will support from three down to one. Gone are the Hitachi SH-3 and MIPS cores, leaving only the processor cores from ARM Ltd. (Cambridge, England)."
That surprised me, too.

(The first time was back in 1996 or so. After the ACE Consortium failed, Microsoft abandoned MIPS support in Windows NT. In my opinion, had the MIPS R4000 not been late, it would have demonstrated conclusive (>2X) performance leadership compared to the 486, and today's desktop and embedded 32-bit microprocessor industries would look rather different. Moral: win the volume market first, add goodies (64-bit addressing, glueless multiprocessor cache coherence, etc.) later and at your peril.)

[updated 10/10/01] Note that it appears Pocket PC will only support ARM, whereas in Windows CE in general, MIPS and SH support continues:

"Executives from MIPS and Hitachi, however, both emphasized that their processor cores will continue to be supported in Windows CE."

Saturday, September 1, 2001

Brian Dipert, EDN: 2nd Annual Programmable Logic Directory.

FPGA CPU News, Vol. 2, No. 9
Back issues: Vol. 2 (2001): Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug; Vol. 1 (2000): Apr Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec.
Opinions expressed herein are those of Jan Gray, President, Gray Research LLC.

Copyright © 2000-2002, Gray Research LLC. All rights reserved.
Last updated: Oct 10 2001