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GECKO3, an open hardware FPGA application board

Christoph Weber
Chaos Communication Camp 2007
Indexed on
Mar 27, 2013
File name
File size
3.3 MB

Hardware developers ever envyed the software developers in the way that they can build and try something extremly fast an with no cost, minutes compared to days or weeks. Today the field of programable logic, mostly the FPGA, has reached a point where digital hardware design is as easy as writing software and with the possibility to make many iterations without rebuilding your device. I show you some examples and what is behind programable logic. In the rest of the presentation I present you an new compact board for FPGA based system development, the GECKO3. Starting with the description of programable logic I will go on to the ways how you can programm them, what modern tools can do for you and what you have to think about when you would like to start building your own CPUs, Cryptocrackers or other things that are better fittet in hardware than in software. After I gave you a basic knowledge of the field, I will talk about an new FPGA based application board, called GECKO3. The complete board, schematics, pcb files, source codes,... is opensource, so you can use it as it is or take it as a help to build your own system from scratch. It is an application board, these means that it is small and cheap enought to include it in your product, not like a typical big overloaded development board. These board was developed at the Berne School of Applied Science in Biel Switzerland, where I work currently. The GECKO3 is built around a large FPGA (in the range from 1 Mio. to 4 Mio Gates) and includes the necessary things to achive a fast and riskless start of YOUR project. Around the FPGA there is the powersupply, 32 Mbyte of NOR Flash, 2x64 Mbyte DDR SDRAM, 100 Mbit/s Ethernet and a USB 2.0 Controler. Most important for your own application is that you get over 160 digital I/O pins to connect your application specific hardware. The Board is completly configurable through the USB connection, you do not need a special cable. we wrote software to make it easy to exchange any data between your PC and the FPGA without any knowledge of USB.

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