Nios® II Processors

Nios® II processor, the world's most versatile processor, according to Gartner Research, is the most widely used soft processor in the FPGA industry. The Nios® II processor delivers unprecedented flexibility for your cost-sensitive, real-time, safety-critical (DO-254), and applications processing needs. The Nios® II processor supports all Intel® FPGA and SoC families.

The Nios® II Software Build Tools (SBT) for Eclipse is an integrated development environment for Nios® II software development tasks, such as editing, building, and debugging. Watch a free training video of how to develop software for the Nios® II processor.

With a PC, an Intel® FPGA, and a download cable, you have everything you need to write programs for, and communicate with, any Nios® II processor system.

Nios® II SBT for Eclipse key features:

  • Eclipse project-based tools
  • New project wizards and Nios® II software templates
  • Compiler for C and C++ (GNU)
  • Newlib C Library support
  • Source navigator, editor, and debugger
  • Software build tools
  • Nios® II Board Support Package (BSP) Editor
  • Intel Quartus® Prime Programmer
  • Nios® II Command Shell
  • Complete documentation and training

With the Nios® II embedded processor, you have access to a broad range of third party embedded software components.

The following items are included with the Nios® II EDS:

  • MicroC/OS-II real-time operating system (production license sold separately)
  • NicheStack TCP/IP Stack - Nios® II Edition (provided for free as part of the Nios® II EDS until Intel® Quartus® Prime Pro Edition Software v21.2 and Intel® Quartus® Prime Standard Edition Software v20.1)
  • Note: The NicheStack TCP/IP Stack software and driver package is discontinued starting with Intel® Quartus® Prime Pro Edition software version 21.3 and Intel® Quartus® Prime Standard Edition software version 21.1. A new TCP/IP stack is planned for a future release of Intel® Quartus® Prime Design Suite.
  • Newlib ANSI-C standard library
  • Simple file system
  • Hardware design examples and software applications

A complete list of applications examples, operating systems, middleware, and intellectual property (IP) cores are available from us and our software tool partners.

Intel provides a complete set of peripheral device drivers and even generates a custom BSP automatically to accelerate your software development effort.

  • Hardware abstraction layer (HAL)—Increase your productivity by building your applications on top of the Nios® II HAL. The HAL is a well-defined software layer that forms a clear distinction between application and device-level software (refer to Figure 1). The HAL also provides services such as file descriptors, I/O control, and buffering. These services are required by the ANSI C library functions, so that your HAL driver does not need to provide these functions. Learn about the HAL System Library (PDF).
  • BSP—The Nios® II Software Build Tools for Eclipse automatically generates a complete BSP, including drivers for the peripherals in your system. Learn about the BSP Editor (PDF).
  • Custom drivers—Create your own custom drivers on top of the HAL by leveraging the HAL application programming interface (API) using a predefined and well-documented driver development procedure. This modular approach promotes consistent, portable, and reusable code. Learn about developing Device Drivers for the HAL (PDF).

Step 1: Get the Design Software

The Nios® II Embedded Design Suite (EDS) is available for free and is included with the Intel® Quartus® Prime software download from the download center.

Download the software from this website.

When you download the Nios® II EDS, you get the following tools and software:

  • Nios® II SBT for Eclipse
  • NicheStack Network Stack, Nios® II Edition (only included until Intel® Quartus® Prime Software v21.2 and Intel® Quartus® Prime Standard Edition Software v20.1)
  • Micrium’s uC/OS II Evaluation Edition

Platform Designer and Questa*-Intel® FPGA Edition software are installed as part of the Intel® Quartus® Prime Software.

Step 2: Evaluate the Software and Develop the Application

  • Build your applications and evaluate the Nios® II standard and fast cores using the Intel FPGA IP Evaluation Mode feature. You do not need to purchase a license for the Nios® II Economy core.
  • Many reference designs and tutorials are included with the Nios® II EDS. Additionally, online training and instructor-led courses are available. Learn more about the training offered for designing with the Nios® II processor.

Step 3: Purchase a License

Purchase a license for the Nios® II processor IP core and related products.

Nios® II Processor IP

Get a license file for the Nios® II processor, non-time-limited use, by purchasing a stand-alone Nios® II processor core license (ordering code: IP-NIOS) or as part of the Embedded IP Suite (IPS-EMBEDDED).

Both fixed and floating licenses are available. To obtain a license file, contact your local representative.

Learn more about Nios® II processor licensing.

Micrium MicroC/OS-II

To obtain a license for the Micrium MicroC/OS-II RTOS, contact Micrium today. A wide range of embedded software partners supports the Nios® II processor.

Learn more about our embedded software partners.