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Xilinx XC5215-6PQ160C FPGA

Updated: Mar 24

I have a batch of Xilinx XC5215-PQ160AKMOO21 FPGAs. These are old FPGAs and it will be a challenge (if not impossible for me) to get one up and running. But... I'm intrigued by the challenge! Likelihood of success: 5%.

The top two challenges I see ahead of me:

  1. ✓COMPLETE - Setting up a working development toolchain and being able to program the FPGA/PROM is my top concern. From what I can find, the newest development environment supporting the XC5200 series was Foundation Software 3.1i. I have a development environment set up and working. See later section.

  2. The FPGA was paired with pretty specific Xilinx serial PROM. The XC17256E is a one-time programmable (OTP) read-only memory designed to store configuration bitstreams of Xilinx FPGAs. While not impossible to find, the XC17256E appears to have limited availability, is a little spendy ($6 each), and can be only written to once. A possible alternative is Xilinx Platform Flash Serial PROM (e.g., XCF02S or larger). The XCF02S is available, is no less expensive than the XC17256E, but is reprogrammable. An additional alternative to the XC17256E is the ATT17128F Serial E² Configuration ROM (or maybe a pair of them). The ATT17128F appears to be available, is more expensive, and is reprogrammable. An additional option is the Atmel AT17LV256 (or larger capacity versions); it is stocked by Digikey (~$10 each). At this stage, I think I will plan on using the AT17LV512A-10PU. They are ~$7 and are stocked by Mouser and Digikey.

Development Environment

I was able to get Xilinx Foundation Software 3.1i running on an old Lenovo X61 laptop and also on an old Dell Optiplex 780. Some notes:

  • The Dell has a native LPT port (i.e., not an add-in card or USB adapter). The Lenovo has a native LPT port in its docking station.

  • The Lenovo is running Windows 10 32-bit.

  • The Dell was running Windows 10 64-bit, but the parallel cable drivers didn't seem to load properly. I installed Windows 10 32-bit, and the drivers loaded fine. The downside to this is that Windows can only use 4GB of RAM and this system has more RAM than that.

  • On the Dell workstation, I set the LPT port to ECP mode in the BIOS.

More to come!


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