So today I picked up my first FPGA! It was a sample that I got from Atmel, the AT40K40AL. I had no idea that the part was selling for about $85 on some electronic parts suppliers websites!!!
The problem is, I can't seem to find any tools to write Verilog for it. I've already spun a PCB to break out all the pins to headers, but I'm debating whether to even get it made as I can't get any leads on what software to use. The only page on the entire Atmel site that seems to have any info on their FPGA ISE is here: http://www.atmel.com/tools/FPGAINTEGRATEDDEVELOPMENTSYSTEMS_IDS_.aspx
That gives you a program, id76install.exe, which I ran, and it seemed to be the correct installer. It installed a program called Atmel IDS 7.6. However, it won't launch! Even on my (pretty damn good) computer, it crashes every time I try to open it. I would really love to get some feedback from the community here! I might post something in some forums and try to dig deeper. I've already been on AVRFreaks to see if anyone has experience with the IDS, but there wasn't a lot of info. I know their FPGAs aren't their flagship products, but you think that there'd be a little more support than there is. Xilinx, for example, has a completely free version of their tools -- Vivado WebPack. You're obviously restricted for a lot of things, but hey, at least it's usable. And I'm only trying to learn the basic here. I just want to start learning Verilog. Not off to a great start.
I might just pick up a Xilinx Spartan-3E or similar. Decently priced, I already have the software installed. I'd just have to pick up a programmer. I may as well pick up one of those dev boards off eBay. I think they've implemented JTAG over USB so it makes it really easy to program. They have on-board EEPROMs to store the FPGA config data, as well, plus a whole bunch of peripherals (7-segment displays, buttons, LEDs, and they usually have LCD screens that you can plug in to some of the headers to display data). I think they cost around $70-100 but it might be the best way to go.
I'd really appreciate any advice from anyone who has experience dipping their toes into the FPGA world. Ideally, I'd like to get started with the Atmel FPGA (as it's already in my hands) but if that's out of the picture then I guess I'll just make a necklace out of it or something.