Friday 5th July, 2013
8:00pm to 8:45pm
Let's create the Arduino of FPGAs
Learning to program an FPGA is time consuming. Not just do you need to download and install 20gb of vendor tools, but you also need to wrap your brain around the strange ideas of hardware description languages like VHDL. PSHDL aims to ease the learning curve significantly and provide more people with the ability to program FPGAs.
At the 29C3 I gave two 6 hour workshops on programming FPGAs in VHDL. This was not an extensive course with plenty of extra features. It was a crash course that got you barely started in a "I will throw you out of a plane and during the fall I will not just explain to you how to attach the parachute to your body, but maybe before we splash on the ground you might actually be able to open it as well" way.
Some of the problems to learn to program an FPGA are certainly caused by the complexity that is involved in thinking HW vs SW. PSHDL can not solve that problem. The other problems however can easily be addressed. Such as providing an IDE that is actually pleasant to use AND guides the user towards solving his problem by meaningful error message and helpful documentation. You can't do that with VHDL because the language is too fucked up.
So in this lecture I want to propose a new language that has a much better syntax similar to C, so that most developers will easily understand it. Yet at the same time it is very powerful to get even complicated jobs done. Additionally, you will not need to install anything to start playing with it.
The big picture here is that I want to create the Arduino for FPGAs and I need your help to get there.
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