Digilent’s New Dev Boards Help C and C++ Designers Interface With FPGA

January 30, 2020 by Gary Elinoff

Diligent’s Eclypse Z7 and Genesys ZU are designed to speed development for projects based on Xilinx’s Zynq-7000 and Zynq Ultrascale+.

In the past, we've discussed some of the top FPGA dev boards for new designers, two of which came from Digilent, a company aimed at "serving students, universities, and OEMs worldwide with technology-based educational design tools." 

A month into 2020, Digilent has released two more FPGA-based development boards, the Eclypse Z7 and the Genesys ZU.


Eclypse Z7 features ZMOD ports

The Eclypse Z7 features two ZMOD ports. Image used courtesy of Diligent


The Eclypse Z7 is designed to help developers interface with the FPGA using C and C++, and it facilitates high-speed I/O measurements. The second board, Genesys ZU, has been described as a "do-all" board with a wide range of peripherals.


The Eclypse Z7

The Eclypse Z7 is based on the Xilinx Zynq-7020 SoC, which combines a dual-core 667 MHz Arm Cortex-A9 processor with 13,300 programmable logic slices.

Digilent's Eclypse platform software includes pre-built Linux images with a high-level API. This, the company claims, enables developers to use the Zynq-7020’s hardware acceleration without interfacing with the hardware directly during the early phases of the development process.


Eclypse platform software architecture

The Eclypse platform software architecture. Screenshot used courtesy of Digilent

The software is also said to make it easier to customize hardware and optimize performance later on.

The development board incorporates a gigabyte of DDR3L memory, a MicroSD card slot, and Gigabit Ethernet access.

The Eclypse Z7 also features two ZMOD ports implementing a SYZYGY interface, supporting signaling with up to 500 MHz throughput per pin. Developers can thus add high-speed and high- bandwidth modules.

Users can plug in application-specific ZMODs to begin prototyping high-speed measurement, control systems, and instrumentation with no need to directly interface with the FPGA. Digilent's first two ZYMODs are the DAC 1411 and the ADC 1410.

The unit also features two PMOD connectors, geared to enable access to a range of display, interface, and connectivity modules.


Map of Eclypse Z7 features

Map of Eclypse Z7 features. Screenshot used courtesy of Digilent


Embedded Linux developers using the Eclypse Z7 can leverage the FPGA even without extensive hardware expertise. C and C++ are presently supported, and support for other languages is anticipated in the future. 


The Genesys ZU

Digilent’s Genesys ZU is a development board based on the Xilinx Zynq UltraScale+ MPSoC (multiprocessor SoC). The Linux-based Genesys ZU supports 1G/10G Ethernet, camera inputs, and 4K video.

There are PMOD ports and high-speed SYZYGY-compliant expansion module ports for Diligent’s ZMODs. These allow ready access to a range of other add-on modules, easing the path to eventual silicon evaluation and rapid prototyping. 


Genesys ZU

Genesys ZU: Zynq Ultrascale+ MPSoC Development Board. Image used courtesy of Diligent

Because the board includes multiple peripherals, Diligent asserts that the Genesys ZU is a solid option for many applications.

The device features:

  • Quad-core Arm Cortex-A53 MPCore applications processor running at up to 1.5 GHz
  • Dual-core Arm Cortex-R5 MPCore real-time processors running at up to 600 MHZ 
  • Mali-400 MP2 graphics processors
  • 256 Mbit QPSI flash memory
  • USB FTDI interface used for programming and debugging 
  • A MicroSD card interface to support SDR104 mode


Two Variations of the Genesys ZU

The 3EG, available now, is targeted at aerospace and defense applications, AI, wired and 5G wireless infrastructure, and cloud computing.

It includes a 5.264/H.265 video codec, 256K logic cells, 5.1 Mb of Block RAM, 18 Mb of UltraRAM and 1,249 DSP slices.

The 5EV, available in the summer of 2020, is aimed primarily at high-definition embedded video applications including automotive ADAS, surveillance, and multimedia.

It features 154K logic cells, 7.6 Mb of Block RAM, and 360 DSP slices.



What development boards have been on your radar lately? Why? Share your observations in the comments below.