Whether you’re starting an academic course to learn FPGA or if you simply think it’s the next step in order to continue learning, there are a couple of things you should know first. Even to experienced programmers, the world of FPGA technology can be wildly confusing and it’s certainly not as beginner-friendly as the other fields you’ve been through already.
Set aside plenty of time, however, and find the kind of tutorials you need in order to grasp the basics and you’ll be well on your way.
Here is the most common questions people ask about the topic, some important things you should know about before you get started as well as a few ideas on where you can start learning if you’re not attending an academic course.
1. What Is The Best Way To Learn FPGA?
As with every new skill you acquire, learning is always easier when you can watch someone do it – preferably someone who already knows what they’re doing, of course. That’s why most people looking to dive into the complex world of Field Programmable Gate Arrays through a course at their university – but many of them will still need to watch a few tutorials on the side as well.
Unless you’re already enrolled in a course, look for someone who can mentor you through it or spend a lot of time on going through online tutorials. It’s not that there isn’t enough of them out there, though, but because this kind of digital design is so difficult to learn it is also very hard to teach.
Some of their teaching methods may not work for you so make sure you go through a few rather than just doing a quick crash-course; it’s not going to be enough.
2. Where Should I Even Start To Learn It?
Regardless of how you are learning it, you should try to start completely from scratch. Forget everything you know about software development and programming languages – they won’t help you much as these languages won’t apply in digital design.
That’s why so many experienced programmers struggle with understanding FPGA; they hold on to what they already know although it is, in reality, just holding them back. Rather than choosing something that seems easy with your existing knowledge, forget about your current knowledge and start building on a new foundation instead.
Do a lot of research, ask experts and more experienced people, consult your books and start out with a Basys 3 dev board or an equivalent to make sure you’re not biting off more than you can chew. It’s going to save you a lot of time and headaches.
3. Which Language Should I Learn?
Set your eyes on the most popular HDL languages such as Verilog and VHDL and get to work. Keep in mind that you should think about what you are trying to express with the language, what kind of hardware you are describing and how it works – it’s going to make it a lot easier for you once you dive a bit deeper into the subject.
Books and tutorials are, in other words, the key to understanding FPGA and you’re simply not going to learn it by thinking you can build on what you already know. Consult the ones with more experience, though, and you’ll get there a bit faster.