System Console is an FPGA system debugging tool that is part of the Quartus Prime package.

This page demonstrates how to use the System Console to control the development board peripherals:
  • Turn LEDs on and off
  • Read pushbutton values
  • Send characters to console through JTAG UART connection
  • Read and write to the on-chip memory
Note that all the interaction happens between FPGA and System Console running on host PC. There is no software running on HPS.

Note that the examples on this page assume the Arria 10 GHRD is used.

Reference Material

For more information about GHRD see GHRD Overview.

For more information about System Console, refer to


1. Unzip the GHRD archive a10_soc_devkit_ghrd.tar.gz to the home folder and use the instructions from Compiling the Hardware Design to compile the FPGA design.

2. Program the FPGA using Quartus Prime Programmer as described in FPGA Programming with Quartus Prime Programmer.

3. Reduce the JTAG speed to 16MHz to avoid instability issue on some board versions:
$ ~/altera/16.1/nios2eds/nios2_command_shell.sh
$ jtagconfig --setparam 1 JtagClock 16M 

Start System Console

1. Start Quartus Prime
~/altera/16.1/quartus/bin/quartus &

2. In Quartus Prime, go to File → Open Project and select the file ~/a10_soc_devkit_ghrd/soc_system.qpf

3. In Quartus Prime, go to Tools → System Debugging Tools → System Console


4. Run the pwd command in system console to make sure the current folder is ~/a10_soc_devkit_ghrd/. If it is not, then execute cd command to change the current folder accordingly.


5. Run the GHRD script by typing source ghrd_sc_script.tcl


Controlling LEDs

The Development Kit has 4 LEDs that are connected to the FPGA. They are D5..D8 marked as FPGA LED 3..0. The LEDs are turned ON by default.

1. Use the following command to turn all LEDs off:

2. Turn on LED D5 by typing the following command:
led_on 0x7

3. Turn on LED D6 by typing the following command:
led_on 0xb

4. Turn on LED D7 by typing the following command:
led_on 0xd

5. Turn on LED D8 by typing the following command:
led_on 0xe

6. Turn all LED on by typing the following command
led_on 0x0


Reading Push Button State

The Development Kit has two push buttons that are connected to the FPGA. The are marked as FPGA button 0 and 1, also as S6 and S5.

1. Type the following command to clear the parallel I/O (PIO) data register:

2. Type the following command to enable interrupts from push button S5:
button_intr_enable 0x1

3. Type the following command to start the interrupt monitoring in System Console:

System Console will read the push button interrupt status every five seconds and display it on the console. It will initially show the button as not pressed.

4. Press button S5 on the development board. The irq monitor will indicate that the button is pressed until a button_data_read_clear will be run to clear the status.


5. Type the following command to turn off interrupt monitoring:

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