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I want to experiment with FPGAs to build audio synthesizers. They would end up being manufactured in quantities of less than 100. I have very little knowledge of FPGAs, but I thought LabVIEW looks like the most intuitive programming option for a beginner. Another option is that I have a programmer friend who is learning OpenCL and keen to learn FPGAs.

I have built many analog synthesizers, and I have also studied simple digital hardware like counters, adders, shift registers.

I don't have this problem that other people seem to have about FPGAs, when they complain that it is not like sequential programming. I don't like the idea of using sequential programming to do real time audio. To me FPGAs seem more natural. This is a reason why I thought of using an FPGA with LabVIEW, as opposed to a microprocessor like the STM34.

Can anyone think of problems I am likely to encounter?

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  • $\begingroup$ i imagine dev tools for FPGA are pretty extensive. it seems to me that if you have very little knowledge of FPGAs, you would do better with a dev board with some kinda ARM chip on it or some DSP (like a SHArC) on it. there are some stomp-boxes that you might be able to turn into a synth. $\endgroup$ – robert bristow-johnson Apr 4 '17 at 6:45
  • $\begingroup$ You you say that because a DSP is better suited, of because is would be easier to learn? I notice some audio companies use SHARC processors. $\endgroup$ – John Spence Apr 4 '17 at 7:15
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    $\begingroup$ it's easier to develop mathematical algorithms on a MCU (like an ARM) or a DSP (like a SHArC) than it is to develop an algorithm of the same mathematical complexity on an FPGA. far easier. $\endgroup$ – robert bristow-johnson Apr 4 '17 at 7:19
  • $\begingroup$ I just saw that Analog Devices SigmaDSP chips can be programmed using very user friendly visual software called Sigma Studio. They are also optimised for audio. $\endgroup$ – John Spence Apr 4 '17 at 15:30
  • $\begingroup$ it's a IDE. the assembly language is powerful, but quirky. the C/C++ compiler produces atrociously poor-quality code. if you're looking for an audio testbed, maybe check out Danville Signal Processing. $\endgroup$ – robert bristow-johnson Apr 4 '17 at 16:38

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