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Realtime FPGA Mandelbrot Fractal Zoom on Altera Cyclone 3

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Uploaded on Dec 28, 2010

Here's a quick little project that I had a lot of fun writing. It's a realtime Mandelbrot fractal zoom + pan engine.

Music: The chiptune in the background is titled "Elementary School Supernova" and is by Kulor. Playback is via the FPGA synthesizer.

Everything seen in the video is 100% real time, and has not been edited, sped up, or slowed down. When a mostly black area of the set comes into view, it does lag a little because this is a worst case rendering condition.

Mandelbrot specs:

The set is calculated using 36 bit signed fixed point integers, and 512 count maximum iterations. Max frame rate is limited to about 25-30Hz, and it dips as low as around 5-7fps when it's rendering complete blackness.

There are 5 "rendering units" that operate on the set in parallel. Each engine can perform around 70 million iterations each per second which means it can perform 350 million iterations per second. Each iteration is three multiplies and several additions. This means the hardware is pushing over 1 billion 36*36 bit multiplies per second.


Hardware specs:

It's running on a custom FPGA board with 18Mbit of SRAM and 64Mbit of SDRAM, along with a triple analog DAC and other goodies. There's a SNES videogame controller plugged in. Video is output as NTSC composite into a capture card. This NTSC video is generated digitally on the FPGA and output to a DAC which makes fully formed NTSC video.

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