Zynq for Makers- Introducing the Arty Z7

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If you have been paying close attention to our Website, or our GitHub, you may have noticed that there have been rumblings of a new Zynq-based board.

digilent-github-showing-arty-z7

 For the first time in over three years, we’re going to be bringing new Zynq boards into the marketplace and we couldn’t be more excited! Since our introduction of the Zedboard in 2011 and the introduction of the Zybo after that, the market for Zynq-based technology has only gotten stronger.

digilent-zynq-products-prior

To  understand this phenomenon, we have to first understand the appeal of the Zynq APSoC technology.

Why Zynq?zynq-chip

Zynq is an All Programmable System on a Chip, or APSoC. Xilinx usually uses the term “All Programmable” to describe their FPGA technology. One can read the APSoC part of the name as, ‘an FPGA technology system in a single chip.’ So what does the “System” actually mean since FPGA chips are generally used to create custom system chips (or ASIC = Application Specific Integrated Circuits)?

In the case of Zynq It means that there are dedicated processors (two Dual-ARM Cortex A9 processors) inside of the chip as well as FPGA technology. This combination allows users to leverage the best of the Processor world and the FPGA world. 

fpga-icon processor-icon
  • Programmable Hardware
  • High Speed
  • Reusable
  • Flexible
  • Accessibility
  • Operating System
  • Common memory and peripherals
  • Ready to use
Examples: Artix 7, Kintex 7 etc.  Examples: Raspberry Pi, Arduino
zynq-in-between
  • Allows FPGA Hardware Programmers access to resources that Software programmers usually have e.g. UI, operating systems, drivers and other programming languages (such as Python).
  • Allows Software programmers to modify and extend the functionality to their hardware without needing to re-architect their programs.
  • The FPGA is available to extend the built in peripherals on the ARM A9 Processor, or to create custom extensions that the processor can interface with. This means that you can use the same design (hardware) repeatedly, but just tweak what you need to be different in each iteration.

Why Zynq for Makers?

Over the past several years, processors have gotten more and more accessible to new audiences. Raspberry Pi’s, Beagle Bone Blacks, Arduinos, chipKITs, LaunchPads, and more have given makers increasing options. Digilent has been a player in the maker market for several years, using our chipKIT processor boards, and last year we released our first Maker-FPGA board called Arty. With both products in the channel, we watched and saw a variety of projects begin to emerge, and this made us think… “could Zynq be a better solution?”

digilent-maker-products

A Zynq board would be perfect for applications that need the signal processing found in high end processor boards, but could use optimized hardware peripherals and accelerators. This would make it more reasonable to implement things like flight path recognition for drones (where the FPGA could be running accelerators for image processing) or internet security hubs (using the Ethernet peripherals with custom protocol additions in the hardware).

Since this board would be targeted at makers and hobbyists, we wanted to follow in the steps of the Arty. This meant that we needed to include Arduino dual row headers and Pmod Connectors to make accessible I/O.

new-arty-design

 

We went through several design iterations and deep consideration of what would truly show off the Zynq chip onboard, such as HDMI in and out (replaced two of the Pmod Ports), adding USB Host (to make it easy to do a keyboard or a mouse), and decreasing the number of switches to make the room for a headphone jack, before the Arty Z7 was finalized!

img_6224-arty-z7-obl-600

The Arty Z7 will come in two versions, a Zynq 7010 and a Zynq 7020.

Arty Z7-10 Arty Z7-20
FPGA part XC7Z2010-1CLG400C XC7Z020-1CLG400C
1 MSPS On-chip ADC Yes Yes
Processor  Dual ARM Cortex A9 Dual ARM Cortex A9
Look-up Tables (LUTs) 17,600 53,200
Flip-flops 35,200 106,400
Block RAM 270 KB 630 KB
Clock Management Tiles 2 4
Available Shield I/O 26 49

 

arty-z7-walk-around

The addition of both Arty Z7 boards to the portfolio means that finally the Zybo and the Zedboard will have company!

 

29765235744_bc5a4f2ae8_mArty Z7-10 16207132825_63fc5d238b_m

Zybo

29765235744_bc5a4f2ae8_mArty Z7-20 17952625206_37f60f02f2_mZedBoard
IC XC7Z010-1CLG400C XC7Z010-1CLG400C XC7Z020-1CLG400C XC7Z020-1CSG484CES
FPGA Device XC7Z010 XC7Z010 XC7Z020 XC7Z020
Processor 650 MHz Dual Arm Cortex™-A9 650 MHz Dual Arm Cortex™-A9 650 MHz Dual Arm Cortex™-A9 667 MHz Dual Arm Cortex™-A9
Logic Slices 4400 4400 13300 13300
DSP Slices 80 80 220 220
Block RAM*** 270 KB 270 KB 630 KB 630 KB
Clock Tiles 2 2 4 4
Programming Options JTAG/Quad-SPI Flash/microSD JTAG/Quad-SPI Flash/microSD JTAG/Quad-SPI Flash/SD Card JTAG/Quad-SPI Flash/SD Card
XADC Yes Yes Yes Yes
Memory
SRAM***
DDR Capacity*** 512 MB 512 MB 512 MB 512 MB
DDR Type DDR3 DDR3 DDR3 DDR3
DDR Speed 1050 MT/s 1050 MT/s 1050 MT/s 1066 MT/s
DDR Bus Width 16 bit 32 bit 16 bit 32 bit
Quad-SPI Flash*** 16 MB 16 MB 16 MB 16 MB
Storage Expansion microSD microSD microSD SD
Power
USB Power Yes Yes Yes
Barrel Jack 7V-15V 5V 7V-15V 12V
Header Pins 7V-15V 5V 7V-15V
Power Monitoring No No No Yes
USB
USB-UART Yes Yes Yes Yes
USB JTAG Yes Yes Yes Yes
USB-HID No No No No
USB-OTG Yes Yes Yes Yes
Adept SDK Support No No No No
Ethernet 1 (1000 Mbps) 1 (1000 Mbps) 1 (1000 Mbps) 1 (1000 Mbps)
HDMI 1 Source, 1 Sink 1 Bidirectional 1 Source, 1 Sink 1 Source
VGA 16 bit 12 bit
Audio Audio Out  Mic In, Audio Out, Line In  Audio Out  Mic In, Audio Out, Line In
Codec SSM2603 ADAU1761
Other PWM Audio Output PWM Audio Output
Interfaces
7 Segment Digits
Switches 2 4 2 8
Buttons 4 6 4 7
LEDs 4 + 2 RGB 5 4 + 2 RGB 9
OLED screen 128×32 Monochrome
Other Interfaces
Expansion
Pmod Connectors 2 6 2 5
Pmod Total I/O 16 I/O 40 I/O 16 I/O 32 I/O
FMC Connectors 1 Low Pin Count
FMC Total I/O**** 72 I/O
FMC Voltages 1.8V, 2.5V, 3.3V
Other Expansion Arduino/chipKIT Shield Connector Arduino/chipKIT Shield Connector AMS Connector
Other Expansion Total I/O 26 I/O (6 analog)***** 49 I/O (6 analog)***** 8 I/O
Other Expansion Voltages 3.3V 3.3V 1.8V, 2.5V, 3.3V

 

To find out more details, or to get to know when the Arty Z7 becomes available for sale, keep following us on Social Media!

new-digilent-zynq-portfolio

 

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About Author

I’m a bit of an electronics-education evangelist. After all, Education is how we learn about the world.
Electronics make the world better.
Engineers change the world.
So more engineers that know how to design and create electronics?
That’s the kind of world I want to help create.

2 Comments

  1. I’d suggest you to take a look at new 7000S series parts. Can’t really see where hobbyists could use dual-core CPUs, so going with single core version would help to shave off some of the board’s price (which is going to be fairly high for “hobby-grade” product as Zynq parts are expensive).

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