Zynq devices, boards and suppliers

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I'd like to pick people's brains about aspects of
different *suppliers* of Zynq boards. Avnet and Digilent
are front-runners, but any info/opinions about other
suppliers would be helpful too.

   - ease of using their embedded linux. My needs
     are simple, requiring a shell and TCP/IP protocols
     over ethernet. GUI not required, but might be
     used if it didn't complicate the development.

   - quality of online support. How easy is it
     likely to be to find the information so that
     I can (a) duplicate any supplied demo environment
     and (b) mutate it so that my code accesses my
     programmable logic

   - board production longevity. I'm not concerned
     about decades, but I would be concerned if a
     board was unobtainable within months

   - ISE or Vivado environment

Background and context...

I'm intending to develop something based around a small
Xylinx Zynq device. Cost is an issue, but not to the
extent that I will be developing a board containing
the FPGA itself. I will, however, be developing a small
simple add-on board containing my analogue circuits.

Now I can read a datasheet and schematic and outline
to determine the extent to which a board is suitable.
However, as we are all aware, those documents /don't/
cover all the important points when choosing a board!

I've created many stand-alone hardware and software
embedded systems, but *not* based on linux *nor* on ARM
*nor* in the Xilinx ecosystem. Since Zynq devices
represent a complex environment, I'll have a learning
curve (good, I like challenges), and I'm interested
in the quality of the resources and support that
I'll need to overcome my misapprehensions.

Re: Zynq devices, boards and suppliers
Tom Gardner wrote:
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If you don't need it now, you might take a look at the Parallella board:

http://www.parallella.org

Currently they have some issues with EOL parts and re-designing parts of
the board, so it will be delayed a bit. But I guess there are not much
boards with the Zynq chip for $99, and you get a lot of peripherals,
too, and of course the Epiphany coprocessor. And the Zynq chip used on
the Parallella board is supported by the free Xilinx ISE version:

http://forums.parallella.org/viewtopic.php?f23%&t13%4

Linux is already working for the board (Ubuntu, well, you can't have
anything, but should be not too difficult to port Debian for it). Even
if you don't use it for your project later, might be a good starting
point to learn to program the Zynq.

--  
Frank Buss, http://www.frank-buss.de
electronics and more:
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Re: Zynq devices, boards and suppliers
On 16/10/13 12:56, Frank Buss wrote:
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Thanks.

I'd looked at that board a while ago, but at that time it
was insufficiently real. Having seen the standard of some
"open source" hardware[*] I'd like to see it be used in
anger before I committed to it. Contrariwise, longevity might
not be such an issue!

The low cost is remarkable. Before committing, I'd
want to find out:
   - how to disable or ignore the Epiphany processor,
     since it isn't useful to me
   - what proportion of the programmable logic resources
     would be available for me to use for my logic

[*] and some COTS hardware for that matter :(


Re: Zynq devices, boards and suppliers
Frank Buss wrote:

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I know it doesn't have an FPGA, but if you need to add a board
to it for the outer interface, you should check out the Beagle
Board Black.  It has amazing capability and LOTS of varied I/O
pins, for $45!  Runs a complete Linux system, but can be used
"headless" (ie. no screen) easily.  Your added board can have
an FPGA or CPLD on it, if you are designing a board already,
it is quite easy if you won't be running at high clock speeds.
I do a bunch of CPLD and FPGA boards with only 2-sided PCBs.
I have even run Spartan 3A and 3AN FPGAs on 2-sided boards
with no trouble.

Jon

Re: Zynq devices, boards and suppliers
On 19/10/13 00:01, Jon Elson wrote:
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If I was going down that route I would probably
use a Ztex board with a programmable USB slave
8051-class processor and a Spartan 6.

If I understand the datasheets (which is yet
to be demonstrated) the Zynq will allow me to
asynchronously sample an input at 2.4GS/s.
That's my principal I/O requirement :) And at
those data rates, I'd like to have reasonably clean
edges which probably rules out 2-sided boards :)

Now the Ztex website and forums look quite
reasonable, so I'm seriously considering using
them as a *supplier* of a board.

But I'm still interested in information that
will enable me to informally "qualify" other
possible *suppliers*.

Re: Zynq devices, boards and suppliers
On 19/10/13 00:19, Tom Gardner wrote:
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Or a more direct competitor to the BBBlack, the
Raspberry Pi, which has an amazing support ecosystem.


Re: Zynq devices, boards and suppliers
  
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This is almost a desktop class chip.  Do you really need that power?  I wish they have something smaller.  I don't need dual core GHz core, but may be you do.

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They says a Z7010 or Z7020.  But for $99, most likely Z7010, which has 28K logic cells available.

If you are not building with chips, does it really matter with:

1. A $50 CPU + tiny FPGA (28K)
or
2. A $30 CPU + $20 FPGA (500K)

I am sure you can find a cheaper board with 2.


Re: Zynq devices, boards and suppliers
On 16/10/13 21:18, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:
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No I don't need that. But if it is there, I may find a use for it.

However, I do need one aspect of the SERDES I/O.


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So am I. But cost isn't everything; my time is more important.
Hence my question about board suppliers, not FPGA devices.


Re: Zynq devices, boards and suppliers
On 16/10/2013 12:28, Tom Gardner wrote:
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You are taking a risk in basing a product on a development board - they  
aren't sold with that in mind and the suppliers don't see long term  
availability as part of the deal. There are quite  a lot of boards based  
on the Zynq around - eg: Mars ZX3- Zynq-7000 SO-DIMM module (which I  
have not used and don't recommend o not recommend.)
You should be able to find a board with long term support and actually  
intended for OEM supply.

Michael Kellett


Re: Zynq devices, boards and suppliers
On 17/10/13 09:31, MK wrote:
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Thanks. Your points are well noted. Fortunately it
isn't actually for a product, only a prototype.

My concern is that I want/need decent documentation
and/or community support - and that might not be
there with a board that only has a very short
production life.

Fundamentally I want to grab my data, process it
and display it. I don't want to become an expert
in creating a linux for board Munge v0.9 using
tool Frobnatz v123.456!

Hence my questions about /which/ suppliers/toolsets
that people have found to be "reliable" by
the above definition.


Re: Zynq devices, boards and suppliers

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We do prototype in hope of building a product someday.  If it's not suitable for a product, it's not suitable for prototype.

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You see community support only if enough people see it as viable tool for projects over the long run. IMHO, the chip is too expensive for most embedded projects.

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Sound like all you need are IP cores for SATA, PCIx, etc.

Re: Zynq devices, boards and suppliers
On 17/10/13 15:19, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:
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That might be your position, it isn't mine - and
has never been throughout my working career.


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Since that can only be known in retrospect, I'm asking
questions about suppliers.


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That's a valid judgement, but not the only valid judgement.


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None of those are relevant to me.

Ethernet, TCP/IP and higher level protocol stack are likely
be of interest.



Re: Zynq devices, boards and suppliers
On 17/10/13 09:31, MK wrote:
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Enclustra's attitude of "we'll show you this
documentation only /after/ you've become a customer"
doesn't endear them to me. But that's their
commercial decision.

They may be very good, but I would like to be able
to evaluate that for myself! Shame.


Re: Zynq devices, boards and suppliers
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I can't suggest any specific boards, but http://blog.elphel.com might be
of some interest.  Its last few entries are about a Zynq-based project.
Maybe posting to the blog's comment section will get some suggestions.

Re: Zynq devices, boards and suppliers
On 17/10/13 19:59, Paul Rubin wrote:
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Thanks for the pointer. Bookmarked.

A quick scan indicates some points that I don't feel are
relevant to me, and some which may or may not be once I've
read them more carefully.



Re: Zynq devices, boards and suppliers
On 17/10/13 19:59, Paul Rubin wrote:
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I've now had a more detailed look, and my initial comments
are unchanged.

Overall the October 2 entry (FPGA is for freedom) comes across
as a bit of a rant, but it does contain useful information.

The "uploads your design to Xilinx" for the zero cost toolset
is, of course, less than desirable. It is a valid way of filtering
out the commercial business from the free hobbyist sectors.

The claimed limitations of the software wizard for generating
the memory interface is not good news -- and is just the kind
of information I was hoping to elicit with my question. I would
be curious to know whether or not the tool accurately reflects
the silicon's capabilities.

The "DLL hell" (or linux equivalent!) is also bad news. Not
sure what the solution would be if I suffered the same problem.
Fortunately I have a newly-installed Xubuntu LTS, so it /ought/
to minimise the chance!

FSBL proprietary binary blob. I don't care if it is proprietary,
/provided/ it works correctly. To me it is merely an extension
of the config bitmap :)




Re: Zynq devices, boards and suppliers
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Do you know anything about the microzed?  I just heard of it, and it
looks interesting:

http://microzed.org
http://linuxgizmos.com/tiny-sbc-runs-linux-on-xilinx-zynq-arm-fpga/

Also the Zybo:

http://www.digilentinc.com/Products/Detail.cfm?Prod=ZYBO

Re: Zynq devices, boards and suppliers
On 20/10/13 03:02, Paul Rubin wrote:
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They do indeed look interesting for my purposes, but I only
know what I can read on the web.

So, we would /both/ like some info about the suppliers :)




Re: Zynq devices, boards and suppliers
wrote:

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We're just starting on a uZed signal-processing project. It will be a uZed
plugged into a motherboard that has power, clock, signal input and output
networks, ADC, DAC, connectors, and miscellaneous stuff. We bought two uZed
boards from Avnet and they power up running Linux. My programmer and FPGA guys
are just now learning how to write a C app that interacts with the FPGA, but the
documentation seems good and they are making good progress. I'll be doing the
architecture and designing the hardware.  

I took some pictures. The ones in the ZED documentation are mediocre.

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/53724080/PCBs/Micro_Zed_Top.JPG

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/53724080/PCBs/Micro_Zed_Bottom.JPG

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/53724080/PCBs/Micro_Zed_End.JPG



--  

John Larkin                  Highland Technology Inc
www.highlandtechnology.com   jlarkin at highlandtechnology dot com    

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Re: Zynq devices, boards and suppliers
On 11/11/13 03:08, John Larkin wrote:
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Thanks, that's useful, and I will be *most* interested to hear how
it goes.

Out of curiosity, how long ago did you buy them and how long did
they take to materialise? Currently Avnet are showing no stock
and 5 weeks lead time.

Worryingly, it has been "5 weeks" for the past 3 weeks - so I'm
concerned that Avnet have "lost interest" in the board. Any info
about Avnet's support practices would be useful.



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