April 22, 2014

Low cost Altera FPGA board

After using Xilinx FPGAs for many years I decide that it was time to take a look at Altera. I googled for a suitable low cost development board that would work with the free version of the Altera tools. Most boards are quite expensive but there are less expensive alternatives. I found a promising board from a vendor in China called Canton-electronics for only ~$40 this also includes a JTAG cable. I couldn't  resist from buying it. Two weeks later it arrived. My first tests show that the board and the cable works fine. I will post more details when I have tested it more thoroughly.

Board: TB276
Download cable: Altera USB Blaster
Bundle with board and cable ~$40 from Canton-electronics.

Board specs
FPGA: Altera Cyclone IV E 4EP4CE6E22C8N
Flash chip: EPCS4, 4Mbit
Onboard oscillator: 25MHz
10 LEDs
2 Buttons

FPGA specs
Device: Altera Cyclone IV E 4EP4CE6E22C8N
Number of logic elements: 6272 LE
Number of IO pins: 92
Embedded memory: 270 Kbits
Embedded Multiplier 9-bit: 30 instances (18-bit: 15 instances)
Embedded PLLs: 2 instances
Serial Transceivers: None

Altera Quartus II Web Edition (free version) download from: www.altera.com

Installing cable drivers
The USB-Blaster driver needs to be manual installed in the device manager. You find them here after installing Quartus II: C:\altera\13.1\quartus\drivers\usb-blaster

Programming the flash
If you want the FPGA to start with your configuration you need to program the EPCS4 flash chip. Here is a guide how to do this: http://retroramblings.net/?p=622

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