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I've recently developed an interest in implementing projects on top of an FPGA dev board, and wish to purchase one such as the Altera DE1.

Looking in the company's site, I noticed there is another class of FPGAs called "SoC FPGAs" (such as DE1-SoC) which incorporates an ARM core.

How does it differ from a 'regular' FPGA?
Is it less flexible in terms of design?

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    \$\begingroup\$ It incorporates an ARM core. \$\endgroup\$ – Ignacio Vazquez-Abrams Jul 18 '15 at 13:11
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As you said it has an arm core, they also tend to have a smaller amount of fpga resources compared to a similar price fpga only part.

It's neat that it allows the a direct access to the fpga fabric and if remember right it can also share a DDR interface between arm and fpga section.

It's nice if you need to run part of your application in software like maybe a high level portion of a network processing stack or the control plane for data processing while doing complementary things in hardware.

If you don't need it though you're better off with a dedicated fpga.

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