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A live-updating interactive Julia fractal viewer implemented on an FPGA
VHDL C Verilog Python Tcl
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Embedded Systems, W4840, Columbia University


  • Luis E. P. lep2141
  • Nathan Hwang nyh2105
  • Stephen Pratt sdp2128
  • Richard Nwaobasi rcn2105


A little class project to generate interactive fractals.

In more detail, the project is built on a Altera DE2 FPGA (Cyclone II) development board, dispatching the calculation of pixel colors from a "soft" Nios II processor to hardware fractal calculators working in parallel, which are then stored in a frame buffer and displayed through VGA. The parameters used to generate the fractal are dynamic, mutable by buttons or some other input.


This project was developed with Quartus II (v7.2) along with SOPC Builder (v7.2, tied to Quartus) and Nios-IDE (v7.2, tied to Quartus), on Red Hat 5.

From source, one need only:

  • Generate the SOPC system using SPOC Builder
  • Compile the project using Quartus
  • Compile the C-code using nios2-ide
    • To do this, you need to set your workspace to src/software
    • then, you have to import all the folders as projects, then compile with IFV

For the class notes, see


To run, program the board with Quartus, then nios2-ide.


  • Space and backspace are zoom in/out
  • Arrow keys are pan
  • WASD moves the constant around in the complex plane
  • The number row changes the preset constant
  • The z to m keys change the color scheme
  • The enter key cycles the colors


You should see either 1) github issues, or 2) our heads. Or the docs/ directory, we've likely put our latest and greatest out there.

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