A Microcontroller on an FPGA?

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You may have seen our previous post on FPGAs and Microcontrollers explaining the similarities and differences of the two and wondered, can I put a microprocessor on an FPGA?

The answer to that question is yes! Xilinx provides an IP core called MicroBlaze. MicroBlaze is a soft core processor that can be added to any block design in Vivado.

MicroBlaze

We have tutorials for getting started with MicroBlaze on our Reference Center for the Arty, Nexys 4 DDR, and Genesys 2 boards.

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The Arty is a great way to get started with MicroBlaze. Adding a MicroBlaze processor to your block design is as simple as searching the Vivado IP catalog, dragging and dropping into the design.

“The Arty is a versatile FPGA development board that is able to implement the softcore processor MicroBlaze. This IP core allows programming of the FPGA with the Xilinx SDK.”

For a simple demo of designing and programming a MicroBlaze system on the Arty, see my Instructable. In it I go through the process of creating a block design in Vivado, and programming the soft core processor in the Xilinx SDK. In my demo we set the board up so that flipping the switches should turn on and off the corresponding LEDs.

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