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.

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:

  • 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.

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 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.