The guys over at Altera have been extremely generous and sent us a MAX V CPLD development kit as well as another item we’ll be writing about very soon. Let’s have a look at the board and some of it’s features.
As the name suggests, it’s based around the popular Altera MAX V CPLD chip, more specifically, it’s the 5M570ZF256C5N. The chip contains 570 logic elements, 440 macrocells and has 159 User IO pins. More information about the Max V family can he found here.
Another great feature of this board is that it comes with a built in USB Blaster programmer. No more connecting extra cables up every time you want to update. The board also comes with a few extra features, a couple of programmable LEDs, buttons capacitive touch sensor, 10MHz oscillator, speaker header and some motor headers.
Altera have also written a nice test utility for the board to show off many of it’s features. A video can be found here which shows the different functions and features in use.
To access all of the examples yourself, you will need to download a Quartus II add-on pack which can be found here. This file also contains all the documentation to support the board.
The first thing I did with this dev board was to run my existing designs on it. The only thing I had to change was the pin assignment. Compared to the MAX II, the pin assignment seems a little tricky at first. Where the MAX II had easy to understand pin numbers, the MAX V has pin names listed in Quartus II. All the pins are listed in the board reference manual that is included in the download file so it’s still easy enough.
I also like the fact that there are 2x 40pin headers for GPIO so you can choose to connect single pins as you need them or use a ribbon cable to connect to other peripherals.
Overall, from the time I’ve spent tinkering with this board, I love it. It comes with enough built in peripherals to play with as well as the expandability. It’s also a massive boost having the programmer built in. I can now carry this board around with me knowing that I’ve got everything I need to develop on the go. It’s also great having all the documentation easily available. The cheap chinese board I got was an utter pain to find information for and led to quite a few dead ends.
If you’re just starting out with CPLDs, I can highly recommend this as a starting point. I can’t see myself outgrowing it any time soon. If you’ve got one or are thinking of getting one, please get in touch, we’d love to hear from you.
As a final point, I’d like to give a huge thanks to everyone at Altera, especially the guys who sent us this board. We’ll be using it in all our future articles. One other thing to mention, we were using Altera chips before we got this board, we’re not plugging it because of the gift, we’re plugging it because Altera is our CPLD manufacturer of choice.