FPGA Remote Laboratory Using IoT Approaches



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Field-Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs) are high-end devices that are not easily shared between multiple users. In this work, a remotely accessible FPGA framework using accessible Internet of Things (IoT) approaches was developed. This was created to provide a method for students to receive the same level of educational quality in a remote environment that they would receive in a typical, in-person course structure for a university-level digital design course. Keeping cost in mind, the functionality of an entry-level FPGA and a Raspberry Pi Zero was combined to provide IoT access for laboratory work. Previous works in this field allow only one user to access an FPGA at a time, which requires students to schedule time slots. This design is unique in that it gives multiple users the ability to simultaneously interact with one individual top-level design on an FPGA. This novel design has the benefit for classroom presentations, collaboration and debugging, and eliminates the need for restricting student access to a time slot for FPGA access. Further, the hardware wrapper is lightweight, utilizing less than 1% of tested FPGA chips, allowing it to be integrated with resource-heavy designs. The application is meant to scale with large user bases; there is no difference between how many users can interact with the remote design, regardless of the complexity of the design. Further, the number of users who can interact with a single project is limited only by the bandwidth restrictions imposed by Google Firebase, which is far beyond any practical number of users for simultaneous access.



IoT Internet of Things FPGA Remote Laboratory


Portions of this document appear in: Magyari, A.; Chen, Y. FPGA Remote Laboratory Using IoT Approaches. Electronics 2021, 10, 2229. https://doi.org/10.3390/electronics10182229