I recently bought a Cyclone II FPGA here. I have been able to program it with a USB Blaster cable and the Altera Quartus Software. The problem is that when I disconnect power, I lose the program. How do I program it so it will continue its operation after power is lost?

Note: this question is similar to this one, but the name of the question made it hard to search for, so I agree with "The Photon" that this one should be kept open.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This is a duplicate, do research please electronics.stackexchange.com/questions/213653/… \$\endgroup\$
    – Voltage Spike
    Mar 2, 2016 at 18:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ @laptop2d, it may be a duplicate, but the wording of this question is much more clear, so this question will be much more easily found by future users looking for an answer to this question. \$\endgroup\$
    – The Photon
    Mar 2, 2016 at 18:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ When you program your FPGA do you see any other devices indicated on the JTAG chain? \$\endgroup\$
    – The Photon
    Mar 2, 2016 at 18:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ There is apparently a non-volatile storage chip on the back of that board. You need to read the documentation to find out how to program that' and how to get the board to configure from that chip on power up. The page you linked to doesn't appear to have that information. \$\endgroup\$
    – user16324
    Mar 2, 2016 at 18:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ To summarize, the answers overlap (and maybe even strongly so), but the questions are completely different. Referencing this issue makes sense, but marking it as a duplicate would be really confusing to future readers. As a reader, 5y in to the future of these comments, at least for myself if not also others, I would claim that preserving these answers and question helped me a great deal to reach my answer quicker and more effectively. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 19, 2021 at 0:01

2 Answers 2


An FPGA (with some exceptions, which don't include the Cyclone family) does not have non-volatile storage, so it will lose its configuration when power is removed.

However, it can be programmed (by pull-up/down connections on its pin) to automatically reload a configuration data from another device on the PCB as soon as it's powered up.

You will need to look at the Configuration User Guide (sorry, that's the Xilinx name, Altera will have something similar) for your device to determine how to set your FPGA up to automatically re-load its program on power up.

And you will need to look at the design of your demo board to find out what kind of non-volatile storage device is provided for the FPGA to be programmed from.

Then you'll need to program your bitstream into the nonvolatile storage device, and reset the FPGA, to have your FPGA reconfigure automatically on power-up.


While The Photon's answer answered my original question, I was able to figure out how to program the EEPROM chip in the board that I originally posted (EP2C5T144 Altera Cyclone II).

By plugging the USB Blaster into the port labeled AS (Active Serial) on the board, the EEPROM is written to. In the Altera Programmer, select the programming method as Active Serial Programming. Add a device and select EPCS4 which is the EEPROM chip on the board. Add the file to the list so it will be programmed, and select start. The process will take longer than standard programming. When power is cycled, the boot program will be the one that was stored on the flash.

Note doing Active Serial Programming will not update the current program until the device is power cycled.


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