on April 7, 2009
Great book - It states teaching VHDL is not its goal; the goal is FPGA programming in a general way to be transportable across various FPGAs while apologizing for the need to use a specific hardware board for the examples. The board is the Xilinx Spartan-3 evaluation board which is readily available for ~$200. It starts with an easy logic structure and ends with a complex pico-Blaze soft-core embedded processor project. It has memory controllers, LCD and PS/2 keyboard controllers in between. Each example has the full VHDL code and many compare alternate HDL coding approaches. Thus, while VHDL syntax is not covered directly, if you want the construct of a multiplexer or a serial port, or more complex functions, the examples serve as an excellent starting point and will continue to provide solid building blocks for future projects. If you are having difficulty sorting out the starting point in the fog of VHDL, ISE tools, RTL, footprints, and all else related to FPGAs using this book in conjunction with the Xilinx Spartan-3 evaluation board will point you in the right direction. Within a matter of a few days to a couple of weeks you will understand the key elements, the order they are applied and be able to demonstrate them in actual hardware. To become an expert is a long path, finding the trail head is always a good start. Once you are comfortable with the FPGA coding process "Circuit Design with VHDL" by Volnei A. Pedroni is an excellent reference book on VHDL for future projects.
on August 27, 2009
I have spent many years amassing a collection of every book on FPGA on the market! Ok, maybe that's pushing it...However, compared to what most books lack in practical examples, this one I find is a complete GEM! From the beginning to the end it keeps you going with interesting, real world examples of what can be done with a Digilent Spartan Starter Kit. The author, Prof. P. Chu does an excellent job at progressivelly building your understanding of FPGA logic design, through a series of chapters that gradually take you to the more advanced stages of design in easily comprehensible lessons that require more elevated skills as one approaches the end chapters. The beauty of this book is that it uses the lessons learned prior to take you to the next level. I've used Prof. Chu's samples and interfaced them with a PIC and ARM9 development boards respectivelly, just to spice in some more fun and excitement. I may be considering launching a free site for the microcontroller sample code interfacing to his functional FPGA examples with his prior consent! There are lessons on dealing with numbers, such as the illusive negative integers and floats represented in binary logic. These are not borring discussions. They are well explained and straight to the point, complete with test benches and some of them can even be ran in the Xilinx simulator. The muxing example for LEDs should be the starting point of all experiments. It's that useful! The chapter on circular buffers is alone worth the price of the book! The memory interfacing and the VGA interfacing are priceless chapters as well! Try looking at a Xilinx sample for memory interfacing! PHEW... I cannot rave enough about the amount of work he has put into this...This is not a lazy approach to book writing! It's methodical, complete, well illustrated and there are samples included and they all work as described in the book! If you are new to FPGA, this book may be the top stepping stone you're after! It should be on everybody's book shelf who deals with FPGA logic design and I'm considering buying another one, just in case I loose the first one...Yes, it's that good! Brilliant work Prof. Chu, please keep em' going! It's people like yourself that make VHDL learning fun and exciting again!
on March 22, 2008
This is one of the best introductory VHDL books out there. Even though it does not focus on the VHDL Language itself it does demonstrate the use of VHDL and the hardware design methodology via practical design examples. All explanantions are clear and easy to follow. The design examples provided in the book are very practical (UART, PS2, VGA controller). The examples themselves are designed using the hardware design methodologies presented (FSM-based and FSMD-based). Finally the Picoblaze section in the textbook is the best treatize of the picoblaze micro that I've seen this far.
For those interested in a more rigourous treatment of the VHDL language, design methodology and synthesis issues (but not practical examples) I also highly recoommend "RTL Hardware Design Using VHDL: Coding for Efficiency, Portability, and Scalability" by the same author.
on August 20, 2012
I would just like to reiterate DavidK's comments that the Kindle version of this book is a major mess. I bought it anyway as I much prefer electronic editions, largely because you can set the font size and my vision is not that great these days. Like him, though, I have now had to also order the hardcover version. Otherwise this book does seem like the most straightforward way to learn VHDL, and I say this after reading several other books and sitting through a number of Xilinx's training videos. All of these failed to help me break through the initial confusion of trying to figure out how to fit all the workflow pieces together.
It just makes sense to guide someone step by step through the first couple projects when the process is this complex. VHDL is complex enough without having to simultaneously untangle a complex and cryptic (to the beginner) development environment. There's considerably more to implementing an FPGA than "just" learning a hardware design language. There are also things such as simulation, timing, clock propagation timing and jitter, I/O constraints, synthesis, implementation, fitting, optimization... These can be more difficult than simply writing the code. In the absence of a mentor this book is the next best approach.
Be aware that the book uses the modelSim simulation software, which used to be available in a free version, but is now quite expensive (unless you have proof that you're a student). Xilinx provides the iSim simulator with their free web ISE, but you can't rely on this book for help with it. Xilinx does provide an iSim User's Guide, though.
on December 13, 2011
The author does a great job presenting just enough of the language to be productive and correct while providing interesting examples of actual working code right from the start. This approach worked much better for me than the typical approach of presenting all the language constructs before moving on to applications.
Word of warning: do not purchase the Kindle version. It has not been proofread at all. The content and formatting of the code examples and in-text references to identifiers is entirely jumbled and nearly every example is incorrect, sometimes severely. After suffering through three chapters with my secret decoder ring I finally gave up and requested a refund. I've already ordered a hardcopy to continue my reading.
on April 13, 2008
I have been looking for a book like this for 2 years now. It is the first book I know of that is actually written about a current development board. The author does a great job of teaching you many of the basic concepts you need to get going. I hope that people at Xilinx stand up and take notice of what the author has done. If you ask me, Xilinx's marketing or technical support department should have written this book. If you want to get involved with fpga development, then buy this book and the development board. I'm recommending this book to several other software engineers as well as some of my students. Well done Prof Chu!
on November 23, 2010
Hi, I have been working with MCUs but I liked to start to play with FPGA to fill the gap I had for some new electronic projects, although I develop application software since long time ago I have no idea about VHDL and FPGAs were totally unknown to me. This book it is very clear and practical so with cheap FPGA boards and free software you can start to work from simple to more comples projects.
on May 5, 2013
This review is more of messages to the Author and Editor. However, as practically everyone has mentioned, it is a VERY useful book to learn VHDL (I assume the author's Verilog edition is also great) and to use as a reference to common interfaces in the workplace (SRAM).
I also have "RTL Hardware Design Using VHDL: Coding for Efficiency, Portability, and Scalability" by the same author. Yet another great resource in the workplace.
My only complaint about both of these books - the index. The index is very brief. The index does not reference anywhere near enough keywords, etc.
on March 22, 2015
Very good book, one of the best I know in the field. Hardware code development, application of standardized ports and interfaces, microprocessor design-in with firmware development and dedicated IO cores: all explained very well and with many very useful HDL and assembly examples. Very efficient and transparent way of VHDL coding for integrated controllers ('FSMD'): will do it like this from now on. For those who want to gain understanding and learn the basics on all topics mentioned, this is your book.
on March 2, 2016
Extensive book for more advanced HW-Engineers containing examples of UARTs, HID-periferials, memory- and video-controllers. Based on Xilinx Spartan 3 FPGAs and includes about 100 pages of PicoBlaze design. Very comprehensive and complete although the writing style is a bit dense to read. For such a big book (439 pages) the index of one (!) page is ridiculously small and thus not usable as a reference.