Thursday 17 March 2011

And another one down

Further to the post below I have now had a look at the fuss over the FPGA Programmable Gaming Hardware website here The site doesn't tell you a lot on the main page just a few pictures and a revision type version blog really, so to find out a bit more to start with what does FPGA stand for me be a good start. The pictures do show what the board contains, how small it is and the plethora of connections, it also shows it connected to a power supply, a monitor and running something akin to workbench an Amiga operating system front end, emulating apparently a 68000 processor interesting.

So going down the left hand side navigation bar the next option under News, as that is the default, is Games. The games page just shows picture and further links to the code for the games, pretty basic games at that, frogger, pacman, space invaders all the classics but still no further in finding out what FPGA stands for.

Next is Platforms, again a memory lane trip showing early consoles from the 80's and even one from '78, however this is an emulation page where you can download the software for the consoles and also the Amiga and Atari, hmm 68000 now this is getting interesting except again another acronym to solve VHDL software, what is that?

Next is Parts, guess! go on guess!, yep

Next is FAQ, well hopefully this will contain:
Q. what does FPGA stand for? and 
Q. what does VHDL stand for? and yes it does 

VHDL stands for Very HarD Language, no seriously it stands for VHSIC Hardware Description Language, a high level language but with another added acronym, fortunately that is explained too. 

VHSIC stands for Very High Speed Integrated Circuit 

The footnote to the explanation was that IEEE adopted the language VHDL in the 1987, three years after the QL. However that gives us another acronym, IEEE which stands for the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, an association for promoting electrical based technology.

Finally we get to FPGA it stands for Field Programmable Gate Array and the explanation goes on to talk about its operation sounding very much like I understood a ULA was described in the ZX SPECTRUM days, oops sorry reader (Uncommitted Logic Array). It is also on this page we get to see another name Xilinx which is significant to the QL, but thats later. 

Next is Developer, that just say's Soon! so lets go back to the console page, and last picture at the bottom seems like a test screen, it was clicking on this that was really interesting.
The Spartan 3e Starter kit made by Xilinx is described as having only 1bit RGB output meaning it can only cope with eight colours including black and white (though technically...), does that ring a bell anywhere at all? 

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