# Anyone here ever programmed an FPGA?

#### ratstar

Aug 20, 2018
485
I've been doing GPU's for ages now, and I need to move onto something more mature.
I'm wondering if FPGA's will make my robots run better than my GPU ones.

What I need (even tho its slightly metaphorical) is to simply run something like frogger as many times as I can at once, I need to hit a collected (including parallel) frame rate of about 1 million fps or higher would be better. Because I need to sample a small model this many times to search in it.

Will FPGA's be able to do this?

#### Nanren888

Nov 8, 2015
623
VHDL? It's sort of a different way of thinking.
Parallelism is up to you. If you want massively parallel, you have to pay for realestate.
.
Can't picture how frogger fits into it. FPGA's like GPUS are good at simple & pipelined.Sort of depends on which tool you choose.
With people selling FPGA add-on boards to go with devkits & such, I'd guess there are a lot of introductions out there now.
.
One thing about FPGA tools, is some, especiialy for linux are free & the included simulator lets you get the experience without any money down.
Also finishing the design in the simulator first, lets you see what size you need to buy to get he space & speed you want.
.
Never quite sure where you are going: Thought of mining bitcoins?

#### Bluejets

Oct 5, 2014
5,856
Never quite sure where you are going:

Quite a few with the same thoughts I think.

#### ratstar

Aug 20, 2018
485

VHDL? It's sort of a different way of thinking.
One thing about FPGA tools, is some, especiialy for linux are free & the included simulator lets you get the experience without any money down.
Also finishing the design in the simulator first, lets you see what size you need to buy to get he space & speed you want.
.Never quite sure where you are going: Thought of mining bitcoins?

If you would be so kind could you point me to a freeware FPGA IDE for windows?
I've wrote a few virtual machines before myself, so I know what its like, but something that works for real I havent done yet.

.Never quite sure where you are going: Thought of mining bitcoins?
If I can run alot of chess games in parallel, the computer ends up being able to play it by itself. I'm doing something along those lines, and the GPU performance doesn't cut it anymore, I need something more powerful.
The smaller I can make the individual "core" the more I can have running simultaneously, that could get my core count higher.

#### ratstar

Aug 20, 2018
485
Hello,

Have a look at this package:
https://www.staticfreesoft.com/

Bertus

That looks quite intimidating, is there something easier like a unit to buy thats already assembled and then u just write the code for it? (similar to purchasing a gpu for example.)

Moderator
Nov 17, 2011
12,610

#### ratstar

Aug 20, 2018
485
So, what makes one fpga worth picking over another, theres alot to choose from there.

I want->
* lots of space to put program logic
* I only want very little ram or state space.
* I require only a small amount of input and output to and from the FPGA.
* Id like a fast HZ.

Is there anything that fits those specifications. (But I don't know what I'm doing yet at all.)

Moderator
Nov 8, 2019
2,632

#### ratstar

Aug 20, 2018
485
Maybe I'm making a mistake, when would an FPGA be desirable over a GPU? cost effectiveness wise, I just don't even know how to begin... because I could just keep going with GPUs and already know the performance I'm going to get, but with FPGA's is it about the same for cost? Because then there would be no point in shifting over.

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#### Nanren888

Nov 8, 2015
623
If you have a budget: AWS? - instantiate any size machine that you need.

#### Harald Kapp

##### Moderator
Moderator
Nov 17, 2011
12,610
Do you realize the difference between an FPGA and a GPU?
A GPU is a special purpose processor but nevertheless a processor. Typically with lots of processing units (shaders) it can be programmed in a dedicated programming language (shader language).
An FPGA is not programmed to execute code as a processor. An FPGY is a collection of hardware units (cells) that are programmed to perform a specific task an also the connections between the cells are programmable. That means an FPGA is essentially a piece of fixed hardware once it is programmed (of course the programming can be changed and thus the hardware represented by the FPGA - but usually not on the fly, a reset is required to load a new configuration.
Having the FPGA represent a piece of dedicated hardware with lots of parallel operation performed simultaneously is what makes it so fast compared to a program running on a processor.

I want->
* lots of space to put program logic
* I only want very little ram or state space.
* I require only a small amount of input and output to and from the FPGA.
* Id like a fast HZ.
You won't get that. Generally the more computing cells there are within an FPGA, the more I/O pins the chip has. I know of no chip with high number of cells but small number of IOs.

I just don't even know how to begin... because I could just keep going with GPUs and already know the performance I'm going to get,
Possibly the quickest way at the time being. It will take some time to understand FPGAs, the different options you have with them and write efficient code. But if you don't start, you will not reap the benefits from FPGAs. Imho using a starter kit is the best option to get you going. FPGAs will (maybe with exceptions) generally come in hobbyist-unfriendly cases (BGA) and sometimes require sophisticated power supplies (multiple voltages, power sequencing etc.), all of which is dealt with when you buy a starter kit.

How come you want to look into FPGAs? These are MOSFET based. From your previous posts I got the impression that you are no fan of these. Why not use your super secret, super high speed DIY computer you've been hinting at in previous threads?

#### ratstar

Aug 20, 2018
485
Do you realize the difference between an FPGA and a GPU?
How come you want to look into FPGAs? These are MOSFET based. From your previous posts I got the impression that you are no fan of these. Why not use your super secret, super high speed DIY computer you've been hinting at in previous threads?

Cause I'm impatient, and I need things sooner. I dont mind transistors as long as I didnt need to fabricate them myself, I had a real banger of an idea just not long ago tho, with spark gap based transistors. (You set up the arc with hivoltage low amp over the gap, and then it continue's to arc with lower voltage high amp.)

Making my own computer from scratch definitely seems like the real cost saver... But I'm judging things way too early, Ive got heaps to discover yet about fpgas...

You won't get that. Generally the more computing cells there are within an FPGA, the more I/O pins the chip has. I know of no chip with high number of cells but small number of IOs.

Thats a bit of a shame, Because if u reduce the ram and state and I/O, it should reduce the overall machine, If I plugged that into the FPGA id be wasting 75% of whats there because it's not designed for it.

#### ratstar

Aug 20, 2018
485
I was watchin Felix's magic FPGA tutorials. and it actually looks to me like they are better than GPUs by a mile... just need to wait a bit... I feel a bit bad that I wasted my whole life with GPUS right now... *face palm*

It looks to me i can get a $100 FPGA do better than a GTX3080ti for$2000.

wth.

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Aug 20, 2018
485

#### Harald Kapp

##### Moderator
Moderator
Nov 17, 2011
12,610
355k CLB's
Be careful. Study in detail what a CLB is. This differs from manufacturer to manufacturer and between FPGA families. A CLB is definitely way less than a shader unit in a GPU. I don't know what you are comparing but this comparison definitely would be nonsensical. Have a look at e.g. this discussion.
Before you dismiss GPUs, you need to get a grasp on what an FPGA is and what it can do - and what not.

#### ratstar

Aug 20, 2018
485
Ok, I'm ready to start simulating, but I dont know what simulator to get.
Id like it to be VERILOG. but I dont know what program to get, Bertus can u help me plz?

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