Please recommend a video processor for FPGA noob

Thread Starter

strantor

Joined Oct 3, 2010
5,968
I have managed to steer clear of FPGAs for long enough; it's time. I want to do some things with video that as far as I can tell, are going to require a FPGA. But I'm scared. Please recommend something with padded corners.

Here's what I want to do:
-up to 60FPS video in from 1080P HDMI or TTL digital from 5MP camera
-Manipulate video (change colors, rescale/zoom, overlay graphics)
-up to 60FPS manipulated Video out to LCD or HMDI out.
-Record video to SD card

Additional desires:
-neatly delivered on a dev board with small footprint an a minimum of unrelated stuff (ethernet ports, embedded LCDs, USB ports, etc.)
-I2C & RS232 comms with other devices
-Not super expensive

I've already done some research and found products that I think will do what I want, but I'm not sure, and there's so much to research, and I don't know how user friendly the options are. Overwhelmed. Please help.
 

drjohsmith

Joined Dec 13, 2021
399
I have managed to steer clear of FPGAs for long enough; it's time. I want to do some things with video that as far as I can tell, are going to require a FPGA. But I'm scared. Please recommend something with padded corners.

Here's what I want to do:
-up to 60FPS video in from 1080P HDMI or TTL digital from 5MP camera
-Manipulate video (change colors, rescale/zoom, overlay graphics)
-up to 60FPS manipulated Video out to LCD or HMDI out.
-Record video to SD card

Additional desires:
-neatly delivered on a dev board with small footprint an a minimum of unrelated stuff (ethernet ports, embedded LCDs, USB ports, etc.)
-I2C & RS232 comms with other devices
-Not super expensive

I've already done some research and found products that I think will do what I want, but I'm not sure, and there's so much to research, and I don't know how user friendly the options are. Overwhelmed. Please help.
This is not a job for a newbe to FPGAs
 

Thread Starter

strantor

Joined Oct 3, 2010
5,968
This is not a job for a newbe to FPGAs
But it's the project I want to do, and I am an uncommonly stubborn person.
I will start out with "hello world," blinking an LED or whatever, and progress in stages, but I want to start out on the right platform to realize my eventual goal.
 

drjohsmith

Joined Dec 13, 2021
399
But it's the project I want to do, and I am an uncommonly stubborn person.
I will start out with "hello world," blinking an LED or whatever, and progress in stages, but I want to start out on the right platform to realize my eventual goal.
Any platform will do you to start.
Xilinx / intel / lattice
Learn a rtl such as vhdl
Purchase any small board first , see how it goes doing the led flashing. .
 

drjohsmith

Joined Dec 13, 2021
399
Are you going to hold 1 frame of video in FPGA memory? or are you attaching external RAM?
My suggestion , for what its worth
From what you have told us, you would have a very long way to go
before you get to look at video processing,

I'd recommend the Xilinx/ AMD line up
and use there Vivado tool chain
Don't use the ISE chain, and older FPGAs , its a dead end

Id not use Lattic / atmel / Micro semi,
they have a very dis jointed tool chain set
great chips, but it seems almost every one need a different tool chain,
So it can easily get confusing for a new comer ,

Intel / Altera , lovely chips,
for the small stuff the Max rage is great
but they are so different to the bigger stuf, its can add confusion,

learning the one tool chain is hard enough


I'm happy in the fact your aware your going to have to start simple, hello world / leds,
I'd suggest that you learn the basics of FPGAs first, using a RTL, I prefer VHDL, or alternative System Verilog
The bigger chips have some fairly fancy features, that are "simple" expansions of the basics,
but if you start with the fancy/ expensive chips the option to be confused multiply

You could also do with a board that's supported by a good forum of the manufacturers,

You can easily spend USD 1000 for a board that can do some decent video processing,
and it would be complex to start with, too many options,

I'd avoid for starters anything with a processor in it
its just another layer of complexity that will cause you more problems

I'd suggest start lower cost / complexity
https://digilent.com/shop/arty-a7-artix-7-fpga-development-board/
Artix 7, probably the 100,

The nexus A100 version is slightly better fit
but its suffering like a lot of people from supply problems
https://digilent.com/shop/nexys-a7-fpga-trainer-board-recommended-for-ece-curriculum/

Once you have 6 months or so and are confident in the design process,
come back and ask about a board with a ARM on board,

Good luck
 

Thread Starter

strantor

Joined Oct 3, 2010
5,968
Are you going to hold 1 frame of video in FPGA memory? or are you attaching external RAM?
I don't see why I would need to hold any more than 1 frame of video in memory, but almost all of this is unknown to me. Maybe I need external ram, but I don't think so?
 

Thread Starter

strantor

Joined Oct 3, 2010
5,968
What do you think of my suggestion above
I have a bit of research to do on your suggestion before I can give it the kind of reply that it deserves. I am off to read up on the artix and nexys and I will be back. Thank you for the effort you put in to answering my question!
 

Thread Starter

strantor

Joined Oct 3, 2010
5,968
I have a bit of research to do on your suggestion before I can give it the kind of reply that it deserves. I am off to read up on the artix and nexys and I will be back. Thank you for the effort you put in to answering my question!
Screw it. I felt the early onset of analysis paralysis so I reacted impulsively and just pulled the trigger on this
20220515_135936.jpg
I know you recommended the 100 model, not the 35, but I just, well, I just didn't get that (it was $100 more). I don't know what I got, but I will find out. If this can get me all the way to my goal then that will be awesome, but I am not counting on it. I'm viewing this as a stepping stone and all I'm counting on is learning enough to know what I'm getting myself into and what I'll need to have in the end to do what I want. Thank you for the recommendation!
 

drjohsmith

Joined Dec 13, 2021
399
Thanks for starting this thread.

I have this Xilinx Spartan-6 FPGA LX9 MicroBoard still in its shrink wrap box. You have prompted me to take a look at it.
https://www.yumpu.com/en/document/view/40581699/xilinxr-spartanr-6-fpga-lx9-microboard
Unfortunately the 6 uses use SW, that is very different to sw if the last few years.
A few years back I'd have recommended a 6 to start , but the old tool chain has put off them. Recently they have become very hard to get , the board might be worth a few bob now. .
 

FlyingDutch

Joined Mar 16, 2021
71
I have managed to steer clear of FPGAs for long enough; it's time. I want to do some things with video that as far as I can tell, are going to require a FPGA. But I'm scared. Please recommend something with padded corners.

Here's what I want to do:
-up to 60FPS video in from 1080P HDMI or TTL digital from 5MP camera
-Manipulate video (change colors, rescale/zoom, overlay graphics)
-up to 60FPS manipulated Video out to LCD or HMDI out.
-Record video to SD card
Hello,

I tried to get video from small CMOS camera sensors with parallel interface:

https://forbot-pl.translate.goog/fo...=en&_x_tr_hl=pl&_x_tr_pto=wapp#comment-150222

https://forbot-pl.translate.goog/fo...=en&_x_tr_hl=pl&_x_tr_pto=wapp#comment-151126

and I have two major conclusions:

1) external RAM is needed for frame-buffer (SRAM, DDR, HyperRAM or PSRAM)
2) beter choose FPGA board with newer camera interface (MIPI)

If you want to have 1080P HDMI you need fast and big additional RAM on FPGA board. Function which you described (features) are nit trivial to achieve.

IMHO: such board (Zybo Z7) is good for project you described:

https://digilent.com/reference/programmable-logic/zybo-z7/start

Best Regards
 
Last edited:

Thread Starter

strantor

Joined Oct 3, 2010
5,968
Hello,

I tried to get video from small CMOS camera sensors with parallel interface:

https://forbot-pl.translate.goog/fo...=en&_x_tr_hl=pl&_x_tr_pto=wapp#comment-150222

https://forbot-pl.translate.goog/fo...=en&_x_tr_hl=pl&_x_tr_pto=wapp#comment-151126

and I have two major conclusions:

1) external RAM is needed for frame-buffer (SRAM, DDR, HyperRAM or PSRAM)
2) beter choose FPGA board with newer camera interface (MIPI)

IMHO: such board (Zybo Z7) is good for project you described:

https://digilent.com/reference/programmable-logic/zybo-z7/start

Best Regards
Well, lookie here:
Zybo Z7 HDMI Input/Output Demo
1. Change Display Resolution
2. Change Display Framebuffer Index
3/4. Print Test Pattern to Display Framebuffer
5. Start/Stop Video Stream into Video Framebuffer
6. Change Video Framebuffer Index
7. Grab Video Frame and Invert Colors
8. Grab Video Frame and Scale to Display Resolution
Seems almost designed exactly to do what I asked!
I did already buy the A7-35T board which is pretty close to what you started with in the thread that you linked to. So I take your recommendation of the Z7 as a good indication that the A7 will not get me to the finish line, But I have this bookmarked now; I know what to buy once I've outgrown what I just bought.

Thank you for the recommendation!
 

drjohsmith

Joined Dec 13, 2021
399
The Z7 , is a great Board ,
If you were not new I'd recommend it.
But it relies on the arm processor to boot the fpga side.
Its not hard but it's dammed confusing.
Board is also a damed site more expensive than the A7
A7 is a subset of the Z7
All that you learn on the A7 is applicable to the Z7 , same tool set, same constraints ,. Same ddr memory

And who knows in a year's time when your ready for the joys of arm co processing and hdmi , there might be a better board.
 

Thread Starter

strantor

Joined Oct 3, 2010
5,968
Well I just spent the past 6 hours following the 282 step process to get the blinky LED program into the Arty board and my LED no blinky.


Now I'm heading to bed to dwell on my temporary defeat and pout myself to sleep.

Not asking for help, just exposing my tender underbelly for the gratification of the "this is not a noob project" crowd.
This will take some serious effort. But I'm not giving up any time soon.
 
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