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The Cheapest FPGA Development Boards

There are many different types of FPGA, each with its unique characteristics. Here’s a look at the cheapest of the bunch: Xilinx Spartan-7. The Altera Cyclone II is the second cheapest. The Basys Artix 7 is the third cheapest. All three are good choices, though. The price of each FPGA will depend on the features you need for your project.

Xilinx Spartan-7

The Xilinx Spartan-7 is a high-performance, small-form-factor FPGA designed for automotive, consumer, and industrial applications. The Spartan-7 has a MicroBlaze soft processor with over 200 DMIPs and 800Mb/s DDR3 memory support. In addition to these capabilities, it also features an embedded ADC and dedicated security characteristics. As a result, the Spartan-7 can operate in sensor fusion, embedded vision, and Q-grade security applications.

The Spartan-7’s clocking architecture is simpler than that of the Spartan-6, which relied on several types of buffers and High-Discharge-Rate (HD) logic. As a result, the new Spartan-7 employs a simpler clocking structure, which results in improved performance. In addition, the Xilinx design software will automatically migrate most of the Spartan-6 buffers to the Spartan-7, while we must manually mitigate BUFIO2.

The Spartan-7 FPGA line includes models with DDR3-800 memory. These chips come equipped with a DNA serial number and a 57-bit binary sequence. Additionally, the Spartan-7 series supports AES-256 CBC mode and SHA-256 symmetric authentication. Other features include dual 12-bit ADCs, an on-chip multiplexer, and on-chip power sensors.

The Spartan-7 FPGA Module features a dedicated analog-to-digital converter. Its 12-bit resolution can handle a range of analog input and output signals. An onboard USB-UART bridge allows for communication with a host. In addition, the Spartan-7 FPGA Module includes four microswitches and a 100 MHz system clock source. This Xilinx FPGA module offers essential functions required by many FPGA applications.

The Spartan-7 FPGA series is a high-performance, low-power, and flexible logic design. It includes multiple integrated blocks, RAM blocks, and memory interfaces. Its high-efficiency architecture provides 6000102000 logic resources. The Spartan-7 series also boasts a smaller package than previous products. Its 8mm package is ideal for easy manufacturing and easy integration into various types of devices.

Altera Cyclone II

A board with the Altera Cyclone II FPGA is available for as little as $15 on Chinese distributor Rayming PCB & Assembly. Unfortunately, the board doesn’t come with a programmer, so you’ll need an external JTAG programmer. The cheapest FPGA boards that come with a programmer are Lattice’s iCEstick boards. They’re very cheap, but they lack the features that the more expensive boards do.

The Cyclone II family offers devices ranging from four to eighty-eight logic elements in terms of performance. They also feature up to 150 embedded 18 x 18 multipliers, eliminating performance bottlenecks caused by complex arithmetic calculations. In addition, this enables users to use these devices as FPGA co-processors. Lastly, the Cyclone II devices offer 1.1 Mbits of on-chip memory. These devices support single-port and dual-port RAM, ROM, and FIFO buffers.

Basys Artix 7

The Basys3 board is an entry-level FPGA board for beginners that uses Xilinx’s Artix 7 FPGA architecture. It includes all the hardware you need for a first project, a comprehensive collection of onboard I/O devices, a free version of development tools, and a student-level price tag. In addition, this board features double the amount of onboard switches, double the number of outputs, and a USB-UART bridge.

The most appealing aspect of this board is its low price. It comes with a comparatively high number of I/O ports, including 56 I/Os. In addition, it also features 32 MB of SDRAM, SPI flash memory, a micro SD card, and eight user LEDs. It also features an ESP32 WiFI module and an FM/ASK receiver. The board also includes an I/O interface for USB-serial and USB-to-FPGA.

You should consider the Digilent Basys 3 Artix 7 FPGA Trainer Board if you’re a beginner. It is based on Xilinx’s Artix-7 FPGA and is fully compatible with Vivado Design Suite. In addition, it offers a VGA and USB interface and 90 DSP slides. It is not cheap, but the board has all the essential reconfigurable components that make it a valuable tool for beginners.

If you’re looking for the cheapest FPGA kit, you should consider the Basys Artix 7. It includes 30 1GHz GTH transceivers, four 10 Gbps Ethernet ports, and eight lanes of third-generation PCIe. It also has programmable resources that make it ideal for high-end hardware development. There are plenty of FPGA kits available on the market, allowing even the smallest start-ups to develop an FPGA-based solution.

Why Are FPGAs So Expensive?

While the hardware design is similar, FPGAs can be significantly more expensive than equivalent chips made by Intel and Xilinx. The difference is primarily due to the different uses for these devices, which can influence the price. Xilinx, for example, specializes in field-programmable gate arrays for autonomous vehicles. While Intel and Xilinx produce FPGAs similar in functionality, they are far less appealing to the eye.

Previously, FPGAs were very expensive and used only in costly systems. These days, however, FPGAs are becoming more affordable and cheaper to manufacture. As a result, FPGA vendors create smaller and cheaper devices with fewer logic gates. A single chip can run up to one million tasks. These benefits have helped FPGAs become a popular choice in various industries. However, the question remains, why are FPGAs so expensive?

As a result, FPGA prices are still higher than ASICs. The main difference is in the way logic is implemented. An FPGA chip contains logic on almost ninety percent of the chip area. Therefore, the cost of an FPGA chip is ten times higher than the equivalent ASIC. ASICs are generally more efficient, but they require a greater initial investment and a longer time to market. That’s where ASICs shine.


This price increase is because FPGAs are difficult to implement in conventional semiconductor and logic devices. The hardware design requires attention to timing and hardware propagation. In other words, designers need to know the number of physical logic gates placed at specific timing points. In such cases, FPGA designers can use pipelining techniques to divide up logical construction into smaller blocks and execute them in sprints between clock cycles. While this makes the process longer, the whole chip can run faster.


In addition to accelerated computation, FPGAs are also highly versatile. They are capable of any digital computation, including image processing. The difference between an FPGA and a CPU lies in their programming techniques. CPUs use more abstraction, while FPGAs use much less. The difference is apparent when comparing the speed and the cost of these two types of chips. Compared to a conventional CPU, an FPGA costs between PS100s and PS10s.


As an added benefit, FPGAs are optimized for enterprise business applications, making them more efficient than CPUs. And since programming an FPGA is lower than the cost of an ASIC, this is an even greater reason to choose them over CPUs. However, it’s not just the technology that makes them more expensive – the design process is a lot more complex. To create the perfect application, you must learn about simulation tools and hardware description languages.


An FPGA is an extremely powerful chip that can work as a microprocessor, encryption unit, and graphics card and can do all three simultaneously. In addition, its modular design and flexibility allow it to be programmed multiple times. An FPGA has two main architectures: a symmetrical architecture of rows and columns of connected logic blocks. A row-based architecture alternates rows of logic blocks with programmable interconnect resources. It also has input/output blocks along the edges.




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