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browser based tool FPGA teaching verilog

Learn Verilog In Your Browser


We are big fans of tools in the browser for education. You have a consistent environment maintained by someone else, you don’t have to install anything, and you can work from any computer you happen to find yourself. The HDLBits site has a great set of Verilog “exams” that would be a big help to anyone trying to learn or brush up on their Verilog skills.

The site offers a range of topics that go from the silly (output a constant 1 or 0) to full-blown state machines and testbenches. The site isn’t tutorial in nature, instead it offers a problem, an optional hint, and an editing window with some code already in place. You add your code and hit submit. Behind the scenes, the site runs Intel Quartus and Modelsim to test your work. It will either show you the results or tell you that you failed.

We’ve been big fans of EDA Playground which offers a nice environment for experimenting with FPGA code, but it doesn’t challenge you the way this does with a series of progressively more difficult exercises, either. Of course, that’s still a great tool if you want to experiment with your own designs. If you prefer, the HDLBits site will let you do a simple simulation using Icarus, but it isn’t nearly as full-featured as EDA Playground.

If you are adept at Verilog, you are able to jump to any of the exercises that interest you. Some of the later ones do sort of build on each other, but you can always backtrack if you get in trouble. If you like stats or competition, the site offers statistics on how many users have attempted each problem and their success rate. There’s also a user ranking board that rolls every six months. The top of that board, [wg250785453] solved 178 of the problems, which we think may be all of them.

The site is part of a family of sites. There’s also ASMBits which is the same sort of thing for Nios II or ARMv7 assembly language. You can also find a generic simulator and debugger for Nios II, ARMv7, and MIPS32 at their cpulator site.

This is a great time to be working with FPGAs. We are hopeful that the new FPGA-bearing Arduino will eventually give us full access to its internals and then we should really see some momentum building.



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