FPGA Development Boards

Altera DE2 Development Board

The purpose of this board is to provide the ideal vehicle for learning about digital logic, computer organization, and FPGAs. It uses the state-of-the-art technology in both hardware and CAD tools to expose students and professionals to a wide range of topics.The board offers a rich set of features that make it suitable for use in a laboratory environment for university and college courses, for a variety of design projects, as well as for the development of sophisticated digital systems. Altera provides a suite of supporting materials for the DE2 board, including tutorials, “ready-to-teach” laboratory exercises, and illustrative demonstrations.


The DE2 board features a state-of-the-art Cyclone® II 2C35 FPGA in a 672-pin package. All important components on the board are connected to pins of this chip, allowing the user to control all aspects of the board’s operation. For simple experiments, the DE2 board includes a sufficient number of robust switches (of both toggle and push-button type), LEDs, and 7-segment displays. For more advanced experiments, there are SRAM, SDRAM,and Flash memory chips, as well as a 16 x 2 character display. For experiments that require a processor and simple I/O interfaces, it is easy to instantiate Altera’s Nios II processor and use interface standards such as RS-232 and PS/2. For experiments that involve sound or video signals, there are standard connectors for microphone, line-in, line-out (24-bit audio and VGA (10-bit DAC); these features can be used to create CD-quality audio applications and professional-looking video. For larger design projects the DE2 provides USB 2.0 connectivity (both host and device), 10/100 Ethernet, an infrared (IrDA) port, and an SD memory card connector. Finally, it is possible to connect other user defined boards to the DE2 board by means of two expansion headers.

Supporting Material

Software provided with the DE2 board features the Quartus® II Web Edition CAD system, and the Nios® II Embedded Processor. Also included are several aids to help students and professionals experiment with features of the board, such as tutorials and example applications.Traditionally, manufacturers of educational FPGA boards have provided a variety of hardware features and software CAD tools needed to implement designs on these boards, but very little material has been offered that could be used directly for teaching purposes. Altera's DE2 board is a significant departure from this trend. In addition to the DE2 board's hardware and software, Altera Corporation provides a full set of associated laboratory exercises that can be performed in a laboratory setting for typical courses on logic design and computer organization. In effect, the DE2 board and the available exercises can be used as a ready-to-teach platform for both university and college Courses.

University and College Courses

Courses on the design of logic circuits and computer organization usually include a laboratory component. In a modern curriculum the laboratory equipment should ideally exemplify state-of-the-art technology and design tools, but be suitable for exercises that range from simple tasks illustrating fundamental concepts to challenging designs that require knowledge of advanced topics. The DE2 board is designed to be the ideal equipment in all of these cases

Engineering Professionals

With its advanced Cyclone® II FPGA, flexible memory options, and a plethora of advanced I/O devices, the DE2 board is an ideal platform for the implementation of many types of digital systems. Engineering professionals will appreciate the wealth of design examples provided with the board, and will enjoy experimenting with audio, video, USB, network, and memory applications. The DE2 board is an ideal vehicle for implementing embedded applications such as those that feature the Altera Nios II embedded processor.


  • Cyclone II EP2C35F672C6 FPGA and EPCS16 serial configuration device.

I/O Devices

  • Built-in USB Blaster for FPGA configuration
  • 10/100 Ethernet, RS-232, Infrared port
  • Video Out (VGA 10-bit DAC)
  • Video In (NTSC/PAL/Multi-format)
  • USB 2.0 (type A and type B)
  • PS/2 mouse or keyboard port
  • Line-in, Line-out, microphone-in (24-bit audio CODEC)
  • Expansion headers (76 signal pins)


  • 8-MB SDRAM, 512-KB SRAM, 4-MB Flash
  • SD memory card slot

Switches, LEDs, Displays, and Clocks

  • 18 toggle switches
  • 4 debounced pushbutton switches
  • 18 red LEDs, 9 green LEDs
  • Eight 7-segment displays
  • 16 x 2 LCD display
  • 27-MHz and 50-MHz oscillators, external SMA clock input