Just a quick post today to thank the individuals who made ORCONF this year such a great success! The staff did a wonderful job setting up the conference, and I learned a lot from all those present with whom I had a chance to talk.

When it came my turn, I presented both an update on the ZipCPU, as well as telling everyone about AutoFPGA. I’ve also posted the final slides for both projects on line, in case you weren’t able to go and would like to see what I presented. The ZipCPU update slides can be found here, whereas the AutoFPGA slides can be found here. (For some reason, the first several slides in either presentation aren’t displaying properly within my browser, so you may need to download the file(s) to view all of the slides.) I’m expecting the videos of the presentations to be posted on youtube, so we’ll watch for them. (You can find a video of last year’s presentation on the ZipCPU here, together with the slides for it here–although those slides are now out of date.)

For those who may be interested in trying out AutoFPGA, I’m probably going to take some time out from these general FPGA based posts to present several AutoFPGA examples and basic tutorials. The first such tutorial will likely be a rewrite of our original debugging bus project, but this time using AutoFPGA. From there, we can demo the button debouncing project again, showing how easy it is to reconfigure the original project in order to add a button debouncer and a scope into the project using AutoFPGA. If all goes well, we’ll then use AutoFPGA to build any further demonstrations from there.

For those who have never been to ORCONF, please allow me to tell you a bit about the conference. First, the conference tends to be very informal. (I may have been the only one there wearing a suit.) The conference also tends to be small. You will not be lost in a sea of thousands of individuals, but may instead get a chance to meet every individual who attends. Reconnecting with the friends I had made last year was an encouragement for me. Discovering the history of what others had done before me was also a treat.

Between now and next-time, though, I’ll probably muse on what direction I should take to move the ZipCPU forward. I could …

  • Dig into the code and make it truly the smallest 32-bit machine out there. At 1,350–2,500 LUT’s, the ZipCPU isn’t the smallest design out there, despite that being it’s ostensible purpose. At 600 LUT’s it would be a lot closer. Such a CPU would also be a lot faster as well. Many thanks to Jan for sharing with me how to get the logic count down that low.

  • Finish integrating the Memory Management Unit and the data cache. This would bring the ZipCPU that much closer to running Linux, even though it will probably slow down the CPU’s memory interactions somewhat.

  • Formally verify that the ZipCPU code faithfully executes its instruction set.

  • Continue to work on building peripherals that can be used with the ZipCPU. I’m still working on building up an HDMI capability, although building a brushless DC motor controller might be fun to do as well.

Here on this blog we’re probably going to continue pressing towards building some digital filters and testing them. This includes building a proper test bench for the CORDIC cores we’ve built. I’ve also been asked by one individual to release a test bench showing the improvements possible via the PWM scheme presented the other day. If anyone else is interested, I may move forward on that as well.

For me, in the end, ORCONF was a success because of all that I learned there. For that I thank not only those who helped to organize the conference, but also all of those who attended and took the time with me to teach me about open source hardware from their individual perspectives.

Thank you.