Nios® II Embedded Design Suite

The Nios® II Embedded Design Suite (EDS) is a comprehensive development package for Nios® II software design. The Nios® II EDS contains not just development tools, but also software, device drivers, bare metal Hardware Abstraction Layer (HAL) library, a commercial grade network stack software and evaluation version of a real-time operating system.

When you design with the Nios® II embedded processor, you have access to a portfolio of robust software development tools and software components available from us and our partner ecosystem. The Nios® II Embedded Design Suite (EDS) is a comprehensive development package for Nios® II software design. The Nios® II EDS contains not just development tools, but also software, device drivers, bare metal Hardware Abstraction Layer (HAL) library, a commercial grade network stack software and evaluation version of a real-time operating system.

The EDS is included as part of our Intel Quartus® Prime (15.1 and higher) or Intel® Quartus® development software tool (13.1 to 15.0).

Download the EDS

Build Tools

The Nios® II Software Build Tools are a set of powerful commands, utilities, and scripts to manage build options for applications, BSPs, and software libraries.

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

Embedded Software

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

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:

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

Embedded Software Design Flow

Writing software for the Nios® II processor is similar to any other microprocessor family. The easiest way to start designing effectively is using a Nios® II development kit from Intel. These kits include documentation, a ready-made development board, and all the tools necessary to write Nios® II programs right out of the box.

The Nios® II software development environment provided by Intel consists of the following tools:

  • Nios® II IDE–The Nios® II integrated development environment (IDE) is the software development graphical user interface (GUI) for the Nios® II processor. All software development tasks can be accomplished within the Nios® II IDE, including editing, building, and debugging programs. The Nios® II IDE is the window through which all other tools can be launched.
  • GNU Tool Chain–The Nios® II compiler tool chain is based on the standard GNU C compiler (GCC) compiler, assembler, linker, and makefile facilities.
  • Hardware Abstraction Layer (HAL) System Library–The HAL provides a hosted C run-time environment based on the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) C standard libraries (e.g., stdio.h, math.h). The HAL provides generic I/O devices, allowing users to write programs that access hardware using the C standard library routines (e.g., printf()).
  • Real Time Operating System (RTOS)–Intel provides the MicroC/OS-II RTOS with the Nios® II development kits. MicroC/OS-II is built on the thread-safe HAL system library, and implements a simple, well-documented RTOS scheduler.
  • TCP/IP Stack–Intel provides the lightweight IP TCP/IP stack with the Nios® II development kits. The TCP/IP stack is built on MicroC/OS-II, and implements the standard UNIX sockets application program interface (API).
  • Instruction Set Simulator (ISS)–The Nios® II ISS allows users to begin developing programs before the target hardware platform is ready. The Nios® II IDE allows users to run programs on the ISS as easily as on a real hardware target.
  • Example Designs–Documented software examples demonstrate all prominent features of the Nios® II processor and the development environment.

This diagram shows the embedded software design flow for the Nios® II development environment. The Nios® II IDE provides an environment for code creation, along with optional RTOS and TCP/IP library integration. The Nios® II IDE also provides a tool for build management, using the GNU compiler as its underlying technology. Running and debugging embedded programs are tasks performed within the Nios® II IDE as well. Designers can target an FPGA development board or the ISS included with the Nios® II development kits. Additionally, the Nios® II IDE features a flash programmer that can be used to manage the flash contents of a processor system.

Device Drivers

Intel offers device drivers for Intel® FPGA IP and HAL API.

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).

Get Started

Evaluate the Nios® II processor tools and IP and develop software for free. When you are ready to ship your product, you must purchase a Nios® II IP core license. This royalty-free license never expires and allows you to target your processor design to any FPGA, so that your software investment is preserved even if the underlying hardware changes. To get started, follow these steps:

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 web site.

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
  • Micrium’s uC/OS II Evaluation Edition

Platform Designer (formerly Qsys) and ModelSim*-Intel® FPGA 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 OpenCore™ Plus Evaluation 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, training is available on the web and in instructor-led courses. 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.