Simulating VHDL of an AVR8 soft processor

Okay, now we’re beginning to feel a bit like [Alice]. This tutorial shows you how to simulate VHDL code. This code is intended to run on an FPGA and includes a software-only version of the AVR 8-bit microcontroller core. Essentially, you’ll simulate VHDL code that simulates AVR hardware. Wrap your mind around that!

The code is intended to run on a Papilio Field Programmable Gate Array development board. We saw an early version of this board running the AVR8 core about a year ago. However, you don’t need to have any hardware to follow along and recreate this simulation yourself. It might be a great way to get your feet wet with FPGA programming before making that first hardware buy. Five different screencasts take you through the process of getting the AVR8 code, using an altered Arduino IDE for it, setting up a free version of Xilinx ISE to run the simulation, then setting it free and interpreting the data that the simulator spits out the other end.


  1. CutThroughStuffGuy says:

    “Essentially, you’ll simulate VHDL code that simulates AVR hardware. Wrap your mind around that!”

    We have to go deeper! Run it in a virtual machine!

  2. mic says:

    LoL. It’s a code inside of a code….

  3. Benson says:

    That’s pretty neat, if you’re 10.
    Didn’t we all make these into every shape
    of altoids tin since 1980?

  4. @CutThroughStuffGuy I’ve been working on a simple, specialized VM that we’ve been writin in Java; we’re going to run it in VirtualBox soon.

    Oh, and obligatory Inception joke here.

  5. DarkFader says:

    So this is the FPGAduino? :)
    Does it have AVR JTAG port too? :)

  6. JBeale says:

    It’s quite a useful tutorial example for those starting to work with FPGAs. Just FYI, if you install the Xilinx ISE software, you will find it requires 11 GB of disk space.

  7. Steve B says:

    This came along at just the right time for me. Thanks for posting! I’ve gotten to the point I’d consider myself “good” with AVR, and as JBeale said, it looks nice for just starting with FPGAs.

    The only ‘scary’ part is the size of that Xilinx tarball file: 3.88GB. :o Picked a helluva time to move to an SSD….

  8. Guan Yang says:

    Has anyone thought about designing an Arduino-like board that has both a (real) AVR and an FPGA?

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