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FPGA's are Software Defined (was Re: [Discuss-gnuradio] regarding fft-if

From: Robert McGwier
Subject: FPGA's are Software Defined (was Re: [Discuss-gnuradio] regarding fft-ifft processing)
Date: Wed, 07 Mar 2007 09:42:18 -0500
User-agent: Thunderbird (Windows/20070221)

Can you reconfigure the FPGA by changing some software based description in a development tool (Quartus) or do you need to break out a soldering iron or SMT rework station?

The facts are: what is run in an FPGA is SOFTWARE DEFINED.

I despise this dichotomy to the n-th degree and aver it is wholly artificial. If the goal (as it should be) is to MAXIMIZE the amount of code running on the desktop or embedded controller with the code written in C++ (with some hand coded assembler to help) then I will subscribe to that. But to say we cannot rewrite programs for the FPGA because it is a violation of principles is entirely too strong IMNSHO. I have requested, on at least one occasion that I recall, a modification be made to the USRP firmware allowing for different operation. I received what I asked for (I have made poor use of it but that is for a different forum). To me, this is the essence of software defined we should be targeting. When Matt releases the USRP2 and more importantly, the "ultimate engine" he is planning, this will progress even further.

As HPSDR accelerates into its releases, with FPGA's and CPLD's everywhere and "untrained (very smart/extraordinary) mortals" doing ALL of the programming and releasing their cores into the wild, this will also help immensely.

HPSDR's  Atlas Bus is < $30 (!!) in a very easy to build kit form.


HPSDR's main controller (Ozy) is the hub of activity on the Atlas backplane:


and has a very credible Cyclone II on it.

The wideband engine, Mercury:


is almost ready to release and its accompanying transmitter Penelope will follow shortly. BOTH of these boards will have ANOTHER Cyclone II on them with almost 100% of their territory being devoted to signal processing. Interface will be done in Ozy. This is a pretty inexpensive big jump in processing capability.

Look at the prices on these boards that are already available. This is very interesting to say the least. I do believe we will see GnuRadio support for these boards as HPSDR has borrowed heavily from GnuRadio on the USB 2.0 interface side.


AMSAT Director and VP Engineering. Member: ARRL, AMSAT-DL,
"Taking fun as simply fun and earnestness in earnest shows
how thoroughly thou none of the two discernest." - Piet Hine

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