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Re: FPGA Dev Board Selection: Spartan-6 vs. Artix-7
tmka   6/13/2014 11:47:51 AM
Kudos for a very well presented question. I regret that nobody has provided their input.

Half a year later, I am faced with the same question. So adding to it, is there any board with Artix7 and dual HDMI? Or extension boards to accomplish the same?

Fortunately the prices for used Atlys and Nexys 4 boards are reasonable and one can afford to get both.

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FPGA Dev Board Selection: Spartan-6 vs. Artix-7
Beerman58   12/26/2013 12:21:23 AM
Let me start by saying thanks to those of you experienced and enthusiastic EE Times members that have helped to make getting into a new electronics project (such as FPGAs) especially thought provoking at a high level for a relative newbie such as myself.

That said, I was hoping to tap that experience to garner a recommendation for a hardware purchase.  I am interested in an FPGA development board that can double as a learning tool, but most importantly stay relevant as I ramp up to more involved problems very soon.  After a (hopefully) quick USB snooping/hacking beginning project, I am interested in implementing computer vision algorithms into hardware (motion detection, blob detection, pattern recognition, etc. or at least preprocessing of the source image prior to these functions in software), initially using HDMI- and VGA-based inputs and outputs.

I have narrowed it down to two offerings from Digilent (although if someone knows of a perfect fit that I missed, I am definitely interested in hearing it) which are under my budgeted $400 USD.  Initially, the Spartan-6 based Atlys board caught my eye, already having dual HDMI inputs and outputs, and being explicitly used in an HDMI white paper from Xilinx that should speed my development.  But then the 7th generation capacity and new Vivado Design Suite compatibility of the Artix-7 based Nexys 4 board is also intriguing.

Repetition of some high points of each for comparison:
Atlys Board:
    IC: Xilinx Spartan-6 LX45 FPGA
        6,822 slices
        2.1Mbits of fast block RAM
        4 clock tiles, 6 phased-locked loops
        58 DSP slices
        500MHz+ clock speeds
    RAM: 128Mbyte x 16-bit wide DDR2
    Included Ports:
        Two HDMI video input ports & two HDMI output ports
        10/100/1000 Ethernet PHY
    General Use Expansion I/O's: 48
Nexys 4 Board:
    IC: Xilinx Artix-7 XC7A100T
        15,850 logic slices
        4,860 Kbits of fast block RAM
        6 clock tiles, 6 phase-locked loops
        240 DSP slices
        450MHz+ clock speeds
    RAM: 16Mbyte CellularRAM
    Included Ports:
        12-bit VGA output
        10/100 Ethernet PHY
    General Use Expansion I/O's: 40

Which of these two do you think is the best choice for computer vision-related tasks?
From my limited knowledge, it would seem that the decision boils down to the plentiful memory of the Atlys versus the plentiful logic capacity of the Nexys 4 (and it's added bonus of being "newer" and thus further from eventual obsolescence, assuming it's possible to implement HDMI and/or VGA ports on the general I/O's of the Nexys).  Which is more likely to bottleneck a video processing application, memory or capacity?

I don't have the experience to weigh the relative needs of such an application, but if I had to choose today I suppose I'd go with the Atlys only because it has a proven video tutorial available, but I would regret not being able to begin the learning experience with the "new" Vivado toolset.  What do you think? Parts Search

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