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Zynq-based SBC runs Linux, offers FPGA-based I/O

Mar 10, 2015 — by Eric Brown 6,163 views

MYIR’s Linux-supported, open-spec “Z-turn Board” uses the hybrid Cortex-A9/FPGA Xilinx Zynq-7000 SoC, and offers sensors, and FPGA expansion connectors.

MYIR, which recently introduced a Rico Board SBC based on TI’s PRU-enabled Sitara AM437x system-on-chip has now turned to an even more complex SoC: the Xilinx Zynq. The Z-turn Board starts with the Zynq-7010, which has the same pair of 667MHz Cortex-A9 cores as the other seven Zynq-7000 models, but with the least powerful FPGA circuitry.

Z-turn Board, front (left) and back, where MYIR has placed dual 80-pin connectors
(click images to enlarge)

Other Linux-ready SBCs based on the SoC include the Avnet Zedboard SBC and SBC-like MicroZed computer-on-modules, as well as the scientific measurement focused Red Pitaya, and the cluster-oriented Parallella. Xilinx recently announced a next generation, 16nm UltraScale+ version of the Zynq with four Cortex-A53 cores cores, a faster FPGA, a GPU, and two Cortex-R5 MCUs.

Of the above Zynq-based boards, the 102 x 63mm $99 Z-turn board offers a roughly equivalent feature mix as the similarly priced Parallella, although it lacks the latter’s homegrown, 16-core Epiphany coprocessor. The Z-turn board ships with 1GB DDR3 SDRAM, 16MB SPI flash, 512MB of reserved NAND flash, and an SD slot, which comes with a 4GB data card on the cable-supplied, $139 “kit” version of the board. The detail diagram below also indicates some QSPI flash, but we’re guessing that was replaced with the SPI flash.

Z-turn Board detail view
(click image to enlarge)

Real-world coastline ports include an HDMI port, a gigabit Ethernet port and two mini-USB ports — one an OTG port and the other a USB/UART port designed for debug. There’s also a separate JTAG interface.


The Z-turn Board is further equipped with a CAN port and on the rear of the board, a pair of 80-pin expansion connectors for the FPGA signals. According to the announcement, 96 pins can be user controlled, although the feature table appears to list 90 user pins using the default Zynq-7010 and 106 pins with the Zynq-7020. The pins are configurable as up to 39x LVDS pairs.

Block diagrams: Z-turn SBC (left) and Zynq-7000 SoC
(click image to enlarge)

MYIR also supplies a buzzer, as well as a variety of switches, buttons, and LEDs. The SBC lacks the optional sensor array of the much more expensive Red Pitaya, but it does include a G-sensor and a temperature sensor. As always with MYIR, the SBC is available with full documentation and an open source Linux 3.15.0 BSP.

Specifications listed for the Z-turn Board include:

  • Processor — Xilinx Zynq-7010 (2x ARM Cortex-A9 cores @ 667MHz, plus FPGA) or optional Zynq-7020
  • Memory:
    • 1GB DDR3 RAM
    • 512MB NAND flash (reserved)
    • 16MB SPI Flash
    • TF (SD) slot with 4GB card
  • Display – HDMI port
  • Networking — 10/100/1000 Ethernet port
  • Other I/O:
    • Mini-USB 2.0 OTG port
    • Mini-USB-UART debug port
    • CAN interface
    • JTAG interface
    • Expansion interface for FPGA signals:
      • 2x 80-pin, 1.27mm pitch SMT female expansion connectors
      • 90x (7010) or 106x (7020) user pins
      • Configurable as up to 39x LVDS pairs
  • Other features:
    • 3-axis accelerometer
    • Temperature sensor
    • Reset and user buttons
    • 4-channel toggle switch
    • Boot select switch
    • 5x LEDs (3x user)
    • Buzzer
  • Dimensions — 102 x 63mm
  • Power — 5V DC in
  • Operating system — Linux 3.15.0

Further information

The Z-turn Board is available for $99 (with Zynq-7010) or for $139 in a kit that adds a power adapter, a variety of cables, and a 4GB data card. More information may be found at MYIR’s Z-Turn Board product page.

(advertise here)

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2 responses to “Zynq-based SBC runs Linux, offers FPGA-based I/O”

  1. Frank says:

    Hardware and price is great on this board, but the documentation is horrible! If you’re not experienced with zynq devices, keep your hands off and buy one of the slightly more expensive and more well known boards like the zed-board or zybo.

  2. John says:

    Also, according to the FAQ on their website, the HDMI video only works for 30 minutes after boot, because they are using the evaluation version of the HDMI display IP.

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