A 3D raytraced game with open source C to FPGA toolchain #Feather #FPGA #OpenSource @YosysHQ

Sphery vs. Shapes is the world’s first 3D raytraced game implemented completely as digital logic. This is all made possible by combining the OSS CAD Suite with CFlexHDL and PipelineC.

(The team uses) a tool flow that takes C++ code describing a raytraced game, and produces digital logic that can be implemented in off-the-shelf FPGAs (with no hard or soft CPU used). We aim for these tools to achieve a software friendly C-to-FPGA flow, making the development + simulation process exceptionally fast and easy, while providing high performance and low power hardware results.

Interactive ray tracing hardware is novel in FPGA and our work serves as a perfect example that such complex data processing circuits can be developed, tested, and implemented in hardware all from a C language based flow that greatly eases the design process over traditional hardware description languages.

Ultra-fast compiled C based emulation and C++ based tools like Verilator allow for fast simulation with realtime debug. This quick workflow is essential, being able to compile-as-C and see the results of code changes executed in realtime is a requirement for developing an interactive game, something not possible with standard FPGA simulators.

The project generates each video pixel in hard-realtime “chasing the beam”, without a frame buffer and with zero jitter. Medium size Xilinx Artix 7 FPGAs have reached up to 1080p 60FPS (148.5MHz pixel clock). The article describes using an Lattice ECP5 FPGA to reach 480p 60FPS (25MHz pixel clock).

The project uses a fully open source board based on a Lattice ECP5 FPGA with 85K LUTs (the OrangeCrab Feather form factor board) plus a PMOD-compatible digital video connector for direct connection to a monitor

See the video below and more here.

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