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Piotr Wyderski
Guest

Sat Apr 14, 2018 4:45 pm   



I need an FPGA chip with about 100 GPIO pins and capable of hosting a
CPU with an existing Linux port, mainly to run a web server. I would
like to connect it to a 16-bit DRAM, so there should exist a memory
controller with this feature, either a hard macro or a soft IP core.
There should also be a fast ethernet MAC. Nothing fancy, but:

1. This is for a small non-profit project, so the IP cores must be free.
Paying O(500) bucks for a Nios/MicroBlaze license is out of the
question. Ditto about the MAC. As far as I know, neither Xiling nor
Altera have a free/very cheap licensing option for non-profit
applications, so the most obvious way is a no-go. Are there any
*reasonable* open CPU/MAC/memory controller cores to use instead?
$1000 per year is extremely cheap for commercial purposes, but
a showstopper for hobby applications, where you can buy a bucket
of STM32-class chips.

2. The chip must be hand-solderable and introduce no thermal strain
problems. This excludes the BGA/chip scale packages and leaves only
the QFP variants on the table. I don't care about the superior
signal integrity benefits of the leadless packages, 50MHz is more
than needed. But this requirement kills Zynq/Cyclone V, otherwise
a perfect choice for this application. The PCB must be manufacturable
in a cheap PCB shop and they can often do at most 4 layers.

3. The FPGA must be SRAM-based.

4. I don't want the SOM modules.

The older Spartan 3Es (3S500E) or equivalent Cyclone 3 in PQFP208
would have been aa good choice here, but I seem to be blocked by
the licenseing issues. I'd gladly stick to these platforms, but
could you please recommend me any robust open-source IP cores
which fit inside this class of FPGAs?

Best regards, Piotr

Julio Di Egidio
Guest

Sat Apr 14, 2018 4:45 pm   



On Saturday, 14 April 2018 17:06:42 UTC+2, Piotr Wyderski wrote:

Quote:
I need an FPGA chip with about 100 GPIO pins and capable of hosting a
CPU with an existing Linux port, mainly to run a web server. I would
like to connect it to a 16-bit DRAM, so there should exist a memory
controller with this feature, either a hard macro or a soft IP core.
There should also be a fast ethernet MAC. Nothing fancy, but:

1. This is for a small non-profit project, so the IP cores must be free.
snip


I'm playing with the Terasic DE1-SoC (sporting a dual core ARM aside a mid-range
Cyclone V), pretty cheap and pretty cool. But in hindsight I should have gone
for the one with no OpenCL support but the HDMI output instead... I mean, I
thought OpenCL would be my way, as I was coming from pure software, then, after
purchasing my board, I have realised the Intel OpenCL SDK isn't free and not
even cheap. After learning the A of the ABC of digital design in Verilog, I am
now playing with the Intel HLS compiler... A lot of (free) IP cores, and
indeed there is a free toolchain: not possible to go supertech with it, such
as you cannot do explicit placement or project partitioning, but otherwise
no limitations. -- That said, I am seeing a lot of people around here rather
talking of Xilinx, but I have no experience with those.

Julio

Piotr Wyderski
Guest

Sat Apr 14, 2018 5:45 pm   



Julio Di Egidio wrote:

Quote:
I'm playing with the Terasic DE1-SoC (sporting a dual core ARM aside a mid-range
Cyclone V), pretty cheap and pretty cool.


But this is a ready-made FPGA development kit and one of the essential
aspects of my projects is to create a working system from scratch,
including custom board design and hand soldering by the advanced
hobbyists. I don't want it to be pure Arduino-style software massaging.

Quote:
That said, I am seeing a lot of people around here rather
talking of Xilinx, but I have no experience with those.


Because Xilinx and Altera are the elite in this business. They have
just forgotten about the hobbyists and charge them the same way as their
industrial clients, despite the fact the hobby projects generate
zero income. There used to be some exceptions for students, but not all
hobbyists are students and even $500 for a yearly NIOSII license is more
than the entire hobby budget. Same with MicroBlaze. The price is way too
low for professional purchases and way too high for hobbyists, hence the
problem. I don't understand this strategy of deterence, but it clearly
works. Anyway, it's not my point, the manufacturers can set
the price of their tools as high as they wish. I accept the situation
and just ask: what cores/chips should I use instead?

Best regards, Piotr

Julio Di Egidio
Guest

Sat Apr 14, 2018 5:45 pm   



On Saturday, 14 April 2018 18:30:45 UTC+2, Piotr Wyderski wrote:
Quote:
Julio Di Egidio wrote:

I'm playing with the Terasic DE1-SoC (sporting a dual core ARM aside a mid-range
Cyclone V), pretty cheap and pretty cool.

But this is a ready-made FPGA development kit and one of the essential
aspects of my projects is to create a working system from scratch,
including custom board design and hand soldering by the advanced
hobbyists. I don't want it to be pure Arduino-style software massaging.


I have no idea why you'd call it Arduino-style, but never mind, to each
his requirement.

Quote:
That said, I am seeing a lot of people around here rather
talking of Xilinx, but I have no experience with those.

Because Xilinx and Altera are the elite in this business. They have
just forgotten about the hobbyists and charge them the same way as their
industrial clients, despite the fact the hobby projects generate
zero income.


I don't see how you'd say that either, ~250 bucks for a development and
prototyping board, plus indeed an industry level mind-set (not everything
is so polished in fact, but that's another story) seems pretty cool to me.
Anyway, I do come from the industry...

Thanks for the feedback and good luck,

Julio

Joe Chisolm
Guest

Sat Apr 14, 2018 6:45 pm   



On Sat, 14 Apr 2018 17:06:37 +0200, Piotr Wyderski wrote:

Quote:
I need an FPGA chip with about 100 GPIO pins and capable of hosting a
CPU with an existing Linux port, mainly to run a web server. I would
like to connect it to a 16-bit DRAM, so there should exist a memory
controller with this feature, either a hard macro or a soft IP core.
There should also be a fast ethernet MAC. Nothing fancy, but:

1. This is for a small non-profit project, so the IP cores must be free.
Paying O(500) bucks for a Nios/MicroBlaze license is out of the
question. Ditto about the MAC. As far as I know, neither Xiling nor
Altera have a free/very cheap licensing option for non-profit
applications, so the most obvious way is a no-go. Are there any
*reasonable* open CPU/MAC/memory controller cores to use instead?
$1000 per year is extremely cheap for commercial purposes, but
a showstopper for hobby applications, where you can buy a bucket
of STM32-class chips.

2. The chip must be hand-solderable and introduce no thermal strain
problems. This excludes the BGA/chip scale packages and leaves only
the QFP variants on the table. I don't care about the superior
signal integrity benefits of the leadless packages, 50MHz is more
than needed. But this requirement kills Zynq/Cyclone V, otherwise
a perfect choice for this application. The PCB must be manufacturable
in a cheap PCB shop and they can often do at most 4 layers.

3. The FPGA must be SRAM-based.

4. I don't want the SOM modules.

The older Spartan 3Es (3S500E) or equivalent Cyclone 3 in PQFP208
would have been aa good choice here, but I seem to be blocked by
the licenseing issues. I'd gladly stick to these platforms, but
could you please recommend me any robust open-source IP cores
which fit inside this class of FPGAs?

Best regards, Piotr


100 GPIO + CPU + Ethernet + DRAM + Linux in non-BGA? Not likely

I have not done an exhaustive search in a while but 144pin XC6SLX9
will give you 102 IO pins. You can get a Altera EP1C12Q240C7N in a
QFP-240 with 173 IO.

If this is a learning tool to program a FPGA I can see the need
but I scoped out FPGA vs a SOM or Raspberrry PI Compute module and
the latter always won. Even in quanity I cannot compete price wise
with a SOM or Rpi CM. A XC6SLX9 will run you 16 bucks from
Digi-Key and the EP1C12Q240C7N is $48. I dont think you will have
enough resources in the FPGA to do a soft cpu, dram controller and
ethernet block plus some gpio pins.

You can buy a CM3 for $30. You will be hard pressed to make a board,
get the FPGA, config memory, DRAM, Phy, etc for 30 bucks unless you
are thinking mega quanity. No way you are gonna hand solder
enough boards to get in that range.

Granted you will have to have a carrier board/socket for the CM3 or
SOM so that adds to the $30 cost.

A uC with maybe a SPI or I2C port expander would give you more horse
power and still be hand solderable.

--
Chisolm
Republic of Texas

Piotr Wyderski
Guest

Sat Apr 14, 2018 6:45 pm   



Julio Di Egidio wrote:

Quote:
I have no idea why you'd call it Arduino-style, but never mind, to each
his requirement.


By "Arduino-style" I mean buying a ready-made board and
mixing existing code snippets without deeper understanding
of the physical aspect of the device or even of the problem domain. I
want to show how
hard is to make such a board, solving all the problems on the
way, and that it is finally doable. Anybody can buy any kit without
understanding of the effort put into its creation and claim
to be a hacker. My goal is to provide much deeper understanding
of its *construction*, not *use*. IMHO one should be allowed
to buy such a kit only after succesful completion of a DYI board.
I mean, the kits are for professionals, because they offer significant
development time (and money) saving.
Quote:
I don't see how you'd say that either, ~250 bucks for a development and
prototyping board, plus indeed an industry level mind-set (not everything
is so polished in fact, but that's another story) seems pretty cool to me.
Anyway, I do come from the industry...


I also come from the industry, but a different one. And it is perfectly
normal to pay for the tools you earn your money with. Even as much as
$50k per seat per year, been there, done that. But if a guy just wants
to play with the technology involved and from the very beginning it is
clear that he will make no money on that (come on, he wouldn't even
afford the
EMI testing required before product introduction to the market), it's
not very wise to repel him with industrial-level charges, because
you're most likely repelling your future user or at least a friendly
advocate. This thread is an example of this situation, the message
is: what should I use (i.e. learn and get used to) *instead of*
Quartus/ISE. I don't have to understand this marketing policy, but
I can certainly adapt to it. Professionally I'd probably get something
from the Ultrascale line and wouldn't care about the complexity of the
proper BGA package soldering, because it would be done by a machine anyway,
a 10 layer board wouldn't be a problem because they are affordable
in quantity. Fine, but it is not a professional application. And it seems
that creating a simple web server on a custom FPGA board is not doable
using the proper, vendor-approved tools, purely because of licensing
costs. Crazy, but true. :-/

So the only option here is to get something working from opencores, but
I can't say much about the quality of their particular implementations,
hence the question. I need a GCC-supported CPU, a memory controller and
a MAC. The budget is $10. :-)

Best regards, Piotr

Piotr Wyderski
Guest

Sat Apr 14, 2018 7:45 pm   



Theo Markettos wrote:

Quote:
What's the application that needs an on-FPGA CPU, rather than a CPU with
attached FPGA? Could you use an existing CPU instead? eg a Beaglebone with
FPGA wired to the PRU pins?


This is an option, but the CPU must be capable enough to run a decent
OS, which means a fast ARM with MMU, which most likely means BGA again.
So then it is better to use a Zynq/Cyclone V with such an ARM on chip.

> Anything with a 16 bit DRAM (SDRAM?) isn't going to be very fast.

The performance doesn't have to be stellar.

Quote:
OpenRISC might be worth a look. There are some RISC-V cores but nothing
I've seen stable enough to use for real Linux work. On all of these the
Linux ports are a bit sketchy (you'll be managing your own toolchains and
OS builds - no apt-get install here).


The compiler toolchain must be existing and stable, the hobbyists will
not debug their custom GCC ports.

> What storage will you be using for the OS and data?

Probably a QSPI FLASH, maybe an SDHC card.

Quote:
By the end of all this, you've built yourself a pretty cumbersome Linux
system. I'd suggest trying to use a hard CPU in some way instead.


Is there anything solderable and still capable of running a pretty heavy OS?

Quote:
Cyclones should build with the free Quartus Lite (formerly Web edition). I
think NIOS and other bits of basic IP should be included, but I haven't
confirmed that.


There are evaluation versions of the mentioned IPs, but they work as
long as the JTAG is connected. You'll not create a stand-alone device
this way.

Best regards, Piotr

Theo Markettos
Guest

Sat Apr 14, 2018 7:45 pm   



Piotr Wyderski <peter.pan_at_neverland.mil> wrote:
Quote:
But it's not the goal. This price battle has already been lost,
I'm perfectly aware of it. The goal is to build a decent, working FPGA
system from the first principles.


If that's the goal, you have options:

1. Use a ready-made FPGA board (with a BGA part)
2. Use a system-on-module and your own carrier
3. Use separate CPU and FPGA chips
4. Be a microcontroller, don't run Linux

If you've discounted those, you've constrained the problem so much that the
only solution to your constraints is the empty set.

Theo

Piotr Wyderski
Guest

Sat Apr 14, 2018 7:45 pm   



Joe Chisolm wrote:

> 100 GPIO + CPU + Ethernet + DRAM + Linux in non-BGA? Not likely

The number of GPIOs is just a rough estimate and not all of them
must be created equal. There are dirt-cheap 16-bit SPI expander chips.
The CPU and Linux running capabilities are not related to the specific
packaging, it's just a legal (licensing) problem.

On the market there are still the old Cyclones in PQ240, many
chips from Altera and Xilinx are available in PQ208 and a horde
of them is in PQ144. But even if you solder it succesfully to
the board, you can't do much with it only because of the legal wall.
I don't want to persuade Xilinx/Altera their policy is wrong, I don't
even want to discuss it, as it is a pure waste of time of all the
involved parties. I just consider this situation to be a law of nature
and adapt to it by avoiding the quality implementations the vendors
don't want to share. So I am open to the alternatives (Microsemi,
Lattice, open-source IP cores, legacy chips).

Quote:
If this is a learning tool to program a FPGA I can see the need
but I scoped out FPGA vs a SOM or Raspberrry PI Compute module and
the latter always won.


Exactly, but the purpose is to learn building such a system from
scratch, including PCB design, and it is beyond hobby capabilities
to re-create even an RPi.

Quote:
Even in quanity I cannot compete price wise
with a SOM or Rpi CM.


It's not about competition, it's about learning this particular design
process. Don't want it, don't play it, it has never been aimed at
stealing the market share of the (good!) solutions you mention.

Quote:
No way you are gonna hand solder
enough boards to get in that range.


But it's not the goal. This price battle has already been lost,
I'm perfectly aware of it. The goal is to build a decent, working FPGA
system from the first principles.

Quote:
A uC with maybe a SPI or I2C port expander would give you more horse
power and still be hand solderable.


But there are no PLD resources, which are the main point here. The only
solderable CPU with PLD I know of is PSOC5LP in TQ100, but it is way too
small to host a Linux port and doesn't have a MAC on board.

Best regards, Piotr

Theo Markettos
Guest

Sat Apr 14, 2018 7:45 pm   



Piotr Wyderski <peter.pan_at_neverland.mil> wrote:
Quote:
I need an FPGA chip with about 100 GPIO pins and capable of hosting a
CPU with an existing Linux port, mainly to run a web server. I would
like to connect it to a 16-bit DRAM, so there should exist a memory
controller with this feature, either a hard macro or a soft IP core.
There should also be a fast ethernet MAC. Nothing fancy, but:


What's the application that needs an on-FPGA CPU, rather than a CPU with
attached FPGA? Could you use an existing CPU instead? eg a Beaglebone with
FPGA wired to the PRU pins?

Anything with a 16 bit DRAM (SDRAM?) isn't going to be very fast.

Quote:
1. This is for a small non-profit project, so the IP cores must be free.
Paying O(500) bucks for a Nios/MicroBlaze license is out of the
question. Ditto about the MAC. As far as I know, neither Xiling nor
Altera have a free/very cheap licensing option for non-profit
applications, so the most obvious way is a no-go. Are there any
*reasonable* open CPU/MAC/memory controller cores to use instead?
$1000 per year is extremely cheap for commercial purposes, but
a showstopper for hobby applications, where you can buy a bucket
of STM32-class chips.


OpenRISC might be worth a look. There are some RISC-V cores but nothing
I've seen stable enough to use for real Linux work. On all of these the
Linux ports are a bit sketchy (you'll be managing your own toolchains and
OS builds - no apt-get install here).

For Linux you'll need an MMU, which will eat BRAMs.
What storage will you be using for the OS and data?

To save area, perhaps use an external ethernet MAC chip? You'll need an
external chip for the PHY anyway.

By the end of all this, you've built yourself a pretty cumbersome Linux
system. I'd suggest trying to use a hard CPU in some way instead.

Quote:
2. The chip must be hand-solderable and introduce no thermal strain
problems. This excludes the BGA/chip scale packages and leaves only
the QFP variants on the table. I don't care about the superior
signal integrity benefits of the leadless packages, 50MHz is more
than needed. But this requirement kills Zynq/Cyclone V, otherwise
a perfect choice for this application. The PCB must be manufacturable
in a cheap PCB shop and they can often do at most 4 layers.


The cheap Altera boards on ebay seem to be QFP Cyclone II and Cyclone IV,
but they aren't very big.

Quote:
The older Spartan 3Es (3S500E) or equivalent Cyclone 3 in PQFP208
would have been aa good choice here, but I seem to be blocked by
the licenseing issues. I'd gladly stick to these platforms, but
could you please recommend me any robust open-source IP cores
which fit inside this class of FPGAs?


Cyclones should build with the free Quartus Lite (formerly Web edition). I
think NIOS and other bits of basic IP should be included, but I haven't
confirmed that.

Theo

Theo Markettos
Guest

Sat Apr 14, 2018 8:45 pm   



Piotr Wyderski <peter.pan_at_neverland.mil> wrote:
Quote:
Theo Markettos wrote:

What's the application that needs an on-FPGA CPU, rather than a CPU with
attached FPGA? Could you use an existing CPU instead? eg a Beaglebone
with FPGA wired to the PRU pins?

This is an option, but the CPU must be capable enough to run a decent
OS, which means a fast ARM with MMU, which most likely means BGA again.
So then it is better to use a Zynq/Cyclone V with such an ARM on chip.


Well, there's things like the Ingenic X1000, which has a 1GHz single core
MIPS and runs Linux. It has 64MB LPDDR in package. It's 0.8mm BGA, but you
don't need to solder many of the balls to get it going, so you can do it
with a simpler PCB. Though it doesn't have GPIO capability if you want that
(and that would mean soldering more balls)

Quote:
OpenRISC might be worth a look. There are some RISC-V cores but nothing
I've seen stable enough to use for real Linux work. On all of these the
Linux ports are a bit sketchy (you'll be managing your own toolchains and
OS builds - no apt-get install here).

The compiler toolchain must be existing and stable, the hobbyists will
not debug their custom GCC ports.


TBH it's no different from NIOS or Microblaze. The toolchains aren't
custom, but aren't to the same level as ARM or MIPS.

Yocto, Angstrom and similar make it a bit easier to build a distro for a
custom platform. But expect glitches.

Quote:
What storage will you be using for the OS and data?

Probably a QSPI FLASH, maybe an SDHC card.


So you'll need IP cores for those too. There's an open source SD controller
on OpenCores, but I'm not sure how well it works. I haven't looked at QSPI.
Plus you'll need drivers (Linux+bootloader).

Quote:
By the end of all this, you've built yourself a pretty cumbersome Linux
system. I'd suggest trying to use a hard CPU in some way instead.

Is there anything solderable and still capable of running a pretty heavy OS?


There's the older generation of parts with ARM7s and ARM9s in them - mostly
QFP.

Also the Allwinner A13 is a Cortex A8 in QFP. However you still need to
attach DDR2/3 memory, which is BGA. You might be able to find DDR2 in TSOP
perhaps?

Apart from the goal of QFP-ness, do you actually need an FPGA for anything?
Or would a suitable SoC in QFP fulfill your needs?

Quote:
Cyclones should build with the free Quartus Lite (formerly Web edition). I
think NIOS and other bits of basic IP should be included, but I haven't
confirmed that.

There are evaluation versions of the mentioned IPs, but they work as
long as the JTAG is connected. You'll not create a stand-alone device
this way.


Ah, understood.

Theo

Jean-marc Lienher
Guest

Sat Apr 14, 2018 9:45 pm   



Piotr Wyderski wrote:
Quote:
The older Spartan 3Es (3S500E) or equivalent Cyclone 3 in PQFP208
would have been aa good choice here, but I seem to be blocked by
the licenseing issues. I'd gladly stick to these platforms, but
could you please recommend me any robust open-source IP cores
which fit inside this class of FPGAs?


http://plasmacpu.no-ip.org/cpu.htm

All that you need in Public Domain...


Guest

Sun Apr 15, 2018 2:45 am   



On Saturday, April 14, 2018 at 12:02:09 PM UTC-5, Joe Chisolm wrote:
Quote:
On Sat, 14 Apr 2018 17:06:37 +0200, Piotr Wyderski wrote:

I need an FPGA chip with about 100 GPIO pins and capable of hosting a
CPU with an existing Linux port, mainly to run a web server. I would
like to connect it to a 16-bit DRAM, so there should exist a memory
controller with this feature, either a hard macro or a soft IP core.
There should also be a fast ethernet MAC. Nothing fancy, but:

1. This is for a small non-profit project, so the IP cores must be free.
Paying O(500) bucks for a Nios/MicroBlaze license is out of the
question. Ditto about the MAC. As far as I know, neither Xiling nor
Altera have a free/very cheap licensing option for non-profit
applications, so the most obvious way is a no-go. Are there any
*reasonable* open CPU/MAC/memory controller cores to use instead?
$1000 per year is extremely cheap for commercial purposes, but
a showstopper for hobby applications, where you can buy a bucket
of STM32-class chips.

2. The chip must be hand-solderable and introduce no thermal strain
problems. This excludes the BGA/chip scale packages and leaves only
the QFP variants on the table. I don't care about the superior
signal integrity benefits of the leadless packages, 50MHz is more
than needed. But this requirement kills Zynq/Cyclone V, otherwise
a perfect choice for this application. The PCB must be manufacturable
in a cheap PCB shop and they can often do at most 4 layers.

3. The FPGA must be SRAM-based.

4. I don't want the SOM modules.

The older Spartan 3Es (3S500E) or equivalent Cyclone 3 in PQFP208
would have been aa good choice here, but I seem to be blocked by
the licenseing issues. I'd gladly stick to these platforms, but
could you please recommend me any robust open-source IP cores
which fit inside this class of FPGAs?

Best regards, Piotr

100 GPIO + CPU + Ethernet + DRAM + Linux in non-BGA? Not likely

I have not done an exhaustive search in a while but 144pin XC6SLX9
will give you 102 IO pins. You can get a Altera EP1C12Q240C7N in a
QFP-240 with 173 IO.

If this is a learning tool to program a FPGA I can see the need
but I scoped out FPGA vs a SOM or Raspberrry PI Compute module and
the latter always won. Even in quanity I cannot compete price wise
with a SOM or Rpi CM. A XC6SLX9 will run you 16 bucks from
Digi-Key and the EP1C12Q240C7N is $48. I dont think you will have
enough resources in the FPGA to do a soft cpu, dram controller and
ethernet block plus some gpio pins.

You can buy a CM3 for $30. You will be hard pressed to make a board,
get the FPGA, config memory, DRAM, Phy, etc for 30 bucks unless you
are thinking mega quanity. No way you are gonna hand solder
enough boards to get in that range.

Granted you will have to have a carrier board/socket for the CM3 or
SOM so that adds to the $30 cost.

A uC with maybe a SPI or I2C port expander would give you more horse
power and still be hand solderable.

--
Chisolm
Republic of Texas


The Altera-Intel MAX X family is available in 144 pin flat-pack

Jim Brakefield

Jon Elson
Guest

Sun Apr 15, 2018 3:45 am   



Piotr Wyderski wrote:

Quote:
I need an FPGA chip with about 100 GPIO pins and capable of hosting a
CPU with an existing Linux port, mainly to run a web server. I would
like to connect it to a 16-bit DRAM, so there should exist a memory
controller with this feature, either a hard macro or a soft IP core.
There should also be a fast ethernet MAC. Nothing fancy, but:

I don't think this is possible. The FPGAs that can support a Linux
environment with a WEB SERVER are "serious" FPGAs. The lowest performance
and capacity FPGAs that can support micro-style CPUs are not going to be
able to handle a web server under Linux. Given that, the only ones that can
are ALL going to be BGA-type packages.


Jon

David Brown
Guest

Sun Apr 15, 2018 12:45 pm   



On 14/04/18 17:06, Piotr Wyderski wrote:
Quote:
I need an FPGA chip with about 100 GPIO pins and capable of hosting a
CPU with an existing Linux port, mainly to run a web server. I would
like to connect it to a 16-bit     DRAM, so there should exist a memory
controller with this feature, either a hard macro or a soft IP core.
There should also be a fast ethernet MAC. Nothing fancy, but:

1. This is for a small non-profit project, so the IP cores must be free.
Paying O(500) bucks for a Nios/MicroBlaze license is out of the
question. Ditto about the MAC. As far as I know, neither Xiling nor
Altera have a free/very cheap licensing option for non-profit
applications, so the most obvious way is a no-go. Are there any
*reasonable* open CPU/MAC/memory controller cores to use instead?
$1000 per year is extremely cheap for commercial purposes, but
a showstopper for hobby applications, where you can buy a bucket
of STM32-class chips.

2. The chip must be hand-solderable and introduce no thermal strain
problems. This excludes the BGA/chip scale packages and leaves only
the QFP variants on the table. I don't care about the superior
signal integrity benefits of the leadless packages, 50MHz is more
than needed. But this requirement kills Zynq/Cyclone V, otherwise
a perfect choice for this application. The PCB must be manufacturable
in a cheap PCB shop and they can often do at most 4 layers.

3. The FPGA must be SRAM-based.

4. I don't want the SOM modules.

The older Spartan 3Es (3S500E) or equivalent Cyclone 3 in PQFP208
would have been aa good choice here, but I seem to be blocked by
the licenseing issues. I'd gladly stick to these platforms, but
could you please recommend me any robust open-source IP cores
which fit inside this class of FPGAs?

    Best regards, Piotr


I think you might want to step back a little, and try to think what you
are actually trying to achieve. What is the task at hand? What are the
quantities? What is the target environment? Why are you looking for an
FPGA - why are you even /considering/ making a board when you are
talking about such small quantities that a $500 license fee is relevant?

You say you need "a web server". That can range from something needing
a multi-core multi-GHz processor, to something that can be done on a $5
microcontroller with a FreeRTOS or mbed demo program. At no stage in
between is an FPGA a cost-effective way to run a web server application.

You say you want 100 pins, but not what you are doing with them -
perhaps they are mostly for the ram you think you need, the Ethernet
interface, etc. What else do you want to do with these pins?

You say you don't want SOM's or other modules - why not? They would
reduce your development effort by orders of magnitude, and make
certification, testing and production far simpler and cheaper.

As far as I can see, your specifications here don't add up. It sounds
like you have picked a "solution" of an FPGA without considering if it
is the right tool for the job. And it sounds like you have a somewhat
mixed up view of where the costs lie in going from vague idea to a
produced product. (Most people have unrealistic views of costs - many
will spend weeks of developer effort to "save" a few hundred dollars of
license fees, without considering the cost of that developer time.)

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