Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Still almost working on the Nexys4DDR board

I have managed to get the DDR RAM on the board almost working.

Sometimes it works fine, and I can write and read back data, and it appears in the correct place in memory.

Other times, all manner of fascinating odd things happen.

Having dug through some information, it looks like I will have to implement temperature compensation between the FPGA and DDR RAM.  Basically, as the FPGA, RAM and traces between them change temperature, their electrical properties vary enough to cause problems.

Did I mention that I really don't like DDR memory, because it is too complex?  Oh how much nicer it would be if there were cheap 128MB SRAM chips available.  If you happen to know of any, I'd love to hear.

Fortunately the FPGA has an internal temperature sensor, and the DDR RAM controller that Digilent and Xilinx provide has an input for the temperature, so that it can recalibrate the communications between the FPGA and the RAM whenever necessary.

I'll take a look at implementing this when I get a chance, and then, hopefully, the C65 ROM will work on the new Nexys4DDR boards.

3 comments:

  1. Sounds like they made a mess out of "upgrading" this board. If it's too much work, or too many compromises, it might be worth reevaluating options.

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    1. Hello,

      Well, the problem is that the old RAM chip that they were using is no longer available. Also, the DDR chip is much larger, and has higher memory bandwidth, so it isn't an unreasonable decision. It is just a hopefully short patch of pain while I get it all working, and then we will just ignore it. As for other options, there really aren't any other suitable FPGA boards on the market, and I don't want to go designing my own for a variety of reasons, but mostly because custom boards are expensive to make, and then the community has to wait for me to get enough orders to produce a next batch. So I will persevere.

      Paul.

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  2. ...and we will continue to watch with nerdy anticipation...

    Keep up the great work Paul

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