Archive for the ‘Xilinx’ Category

New FPGA Kickstarter Project

December 12, 2013

My friend Mike Jones and his pals just launched a kickstarted project today, 12/11/2013:
LOGi FPGA Development Board for Raspberry Pi – Beaglebone

The community oriented LOGi FPGA boards are powered by cost-effective Xilinx Spartan-6 LX9 devices.
There are two FPGA boards, LOGi-Pi and LOGi-Bone, plus some expansion add-ons, such as LOGi-EDU with joystick and many different peripherals, and LOGi-Cam with 640×480 camera module.

The LOGi-Pi can be used as a shield with Raspberry Pi. It has 4 PMODs.



The LOGi-Bone can be used as a cape with Beaglebone White or Blank. It has 2 PMODs.



You can use Xilinx’s free version of tools to do FPGA designs. The good news is, you don’t need JTAG programmer to unload your designs to FPGA. C-based loaders are provided. It is fast and easy. I’m glad to say I did contribute in this part of the project.

Go get them before they are all gone. Early adopter can get it only in $69 for one LOGi-Pi or LOGi-Bone. You’ll still need your own Pi or Bone.

A Supercomputer for only $100 – The Kickstart project Parallella

October 26, 2012

Check out Kickstarter project Parallella

Parallella, a personal supercomputer, is using Zynq 7010 FPGA SoC as the host, and Epiphany 16- or 64-core Microprocessor as the accelerator.
Adapteva, owner of the Epiphany technology, already has a SDK, and OpenCL SDK (beta). Parallella would be very useful for embedded vision, SDR, HPC and many other computation intensive projects.

The following diagram shows Parallella specification.

The Kickstarter goal is $750,000, and it ends on 2012-10-27. At the time of writing this post (2012-10-25, 23:33 MDT), there are 3,325 backers, and $578,542 pledged.
I pledged $99, and if you’re interested, please do the same. There are less than 2 days left to make it a success.

I got ZED board

September 5, 2012

I got the ZED board I ordered 3 months ago today.

So far so good, hope I can find time doing some interesting projects with ZED and KC705.


The following command is used to turn on LED LD0:
echo 1 > /sys/class/gpio/gpio61/value

Vivado is available

July 26, 2012

If you are a follower of XilinxInc, you may find
Vivado 2012.2, and ISE 14.2, are available today at Xilinx Downloads link.

I hope I have time to report my experience, in particular for HLS, with the new design tool

Peripheral Modules from Digilent and Maxim

July 12, 2012

For those who own or will own Avnet LX9 MicroBoard, Digilent boards, ZedBoard, and Xilinx ZC702, or any other FPGA boards with Pmod ports, Pmod with analog and mixed-signal functions is a must have to pursue interesting and fun projects.

Pmod™ is the trademark of Digilent. Pmods are 6 or 12 pin small I/O boards to extend FPGA boards.
Digilent sells many peripheral modules, almost 50 ones in total, price ranging from $9.99, such as slide switches, LEDs, and RCA audio jacks, to $59.99, a 802.11b WiFi. They includes input/output, sensors/actuators, DAC/ADC, and connectors, etc.

Maxim announced a collection of 15 Pmods, called Maxim Analog Essentials Collection, early this month.
The $89.95 collections has the following Pmods:
Octal 12-Bit DAC
16-Bit ADC
16-Bit High-Performance DAC
RS-485 Half-Duplex Transceiver
8-Channel Relay Driver
All-Silicon Clock Oscillator
600V Isolator for SPI/UART
Proximity and Ambient Light Sensor
±5ppm I2C Real-Time Clock
Digital Thermometer/Thermostat
Type K Thermocouple-to-Digital Converter
Dual Nonvolatile Digital Pot
Programmable Current Limiter and ADC
16-Port GPIO and LED Driver
±15kV True RS-232 Transceiver

MAXPMBAE – Maxim Analog Essentials Collection of Peripheral Modules

Here‘re some more details, and Product Brochure.

EDN has a product review Maxim’s collection of peripheral modules for FPGAs, it covers Maxim’s offering, and some useful information about Pmod.

I will order one for sure, it is well worth it, considering single Pmod could cost around $20.
I hope and believe more reasonably priced peripheral modules, with diverse functionalities, will show up.
FMC is more powerful but expensive, it may be out of reach for many.

If you have any ideas for a fun FPGA project and don’t mind to share, please do.


You can order ZedBoard now

June 1, 2012

ZedBoard web site is up with real content, and you can order the board from today, scheduled to ship in July.
Two versions of ZedBoard are offered (not sure if there are any hardware difference):

  • Avnet commercial version $395
  • Digilent academic edition $299 (university affiliation is required)


Waiting is over…

May 24, 2012

I got the new shining KC705 devkit today, which I ordered in early March.
I had mixed feelings, excited and a little bit disappointed.
Excited because I could pursue my interesting projects with the new gear.
Disappointed due to the facts that:

I will focus on KC705 after getting other projects out of my hands, probably in several weeks.


The KC705 is the larger board in the bottom. I put the smaller SP605 in the middle to compare.

Vivado HLS in Action

May 18, 2012

Check out this clip for Vivado HLS 2012.2 in action:

Notice how easily it is to apply different HLS directives to the same C code to improve frame rate from 2fps to 81fps.
You can see the exploding potentials of FPGA in software engineers’ hands.

Vivado 2012.1

May 11, 2012

When I installed ISE 14.1 System Edition, I found Vivado 2012.1 comes with it.

I will contact Xilinx and Avnet FAEs to see if I could get early access license.

Vivado 2012.1

I’m told Vivado public access will be in July.

Install Xilinx Cable Drivers on 32 bit Ubuntu

May 11, 2012

Xilinx released ISE 14.1 this week. Unfortunately Ubuntu is still not a supported OS platform. I have to go through the driver installation process again, but this time I documented what I did and hope it will be useful for Linux users of Xilinx design tools.

My 32 bit Ubuntu 10.04 VM is of version 2.6.32-38; ISE 14.1 is installed on a remote hfsplus mount. Since it is a virtual machine, I enabled X11 Forwarding via SSH on OS X host to allow GUI installation.

Install ISE 14.1

Install ISE 14.1 suite, including ISE, LabTools and SDK, without cable drivers. Run xsetup scripts as regular user. It took about 22 GB disk space on the remote mount.

Setup Environment, and Install Supporting Packages

The default Ubuntu shell is dash, a smaller but less feature-rich shell. I changed the shell to bash.
Point gmake to /usr/bin/make.
Some packages are required to compile driver:

  • libusb-dev
  • libftdi-dev
  • build-essential
  • libc6-dev
  • fxload

Here’s my setup environment.

Environment and Packages

Build and Install Drivers

I followed the advice from George Smart:
Xilinx JTAG Linux
Here’s how I compiled and installed driver.

Compile and Install Driver

Connect FPGA Device via Platform Cable USB II

I’m using LX9 MicroBoard. There are 3 different ways connecting to JTAG.

JTAG     USB Device ID Cable Speed (MHz) or Clock Frequency(100,000Hz)
Platform Cable USB II 03fd:0008 6MHz
Digilent Onboard Plugin 1443:0007 4m Hz
Digilent HS1 0403:6010 10m Hz

Here’s how I connected to FPGA.

Platform Cable USB II

Install Digilent Onboard Plugin Driver and Adept Driver for HS1

Here’s how to install Digilent drivers, and connect via Onboard Plugin port.

Install Digilent Drivers and Connect via Onboard JTAG

Connect FPGA Device via Digilent HS1

Connect to JTAG via HS1 is identical to Platform Cable.

Connect FPGA Device via Digilent HS1

Here’s how to use impact to connect, please notice JTAG clock frequency is listed.

Impact Connect via HS1

To Do

I have a 64 bit Fedora 14 Desktop. Get the drivers built and installed is much more challenging. I will report back if I could get it work.