Electronic Design

FPGA Kits Support FMC Mezzanine Card Development

Xilinx unified its FPGA line when it moved to 28nm (see Xilinx Unifies FPGA Line). The Artix, Kintex and Virtex lines utilize the same underlying technology and differ in terms of capacity and peripheral performance. The Kintex and Virtex are the target of Xilinx's new development platforms because both incorporate x8 PCI Express Gen 2 interfaces. The Artix supports a x4 PCI Express Gen 1 interface. This PCI Express support is the reason the new Virtex-7 FPGA VC707 Evaluation Kit (Fig. 1) and the Kintex-7 FPGA KC 705 Base Evaluation Kit look so similar although they are not identical.


Table 1: Xilinx Series 7 Specification




Logic Cells




Total Block RAM




DSP Slices




Peak DSP Performance


1848 GMACS






Peak Transceiver speed

3.75 Gbits/s



Peak Serial Bandwidth (full duplex)




PCI Express interface

Gen 1 x4

Gen 2 x8

Gen 3 x8

Memory interface

800 Mbits/s



I/O pins




I/O voltage

1.2V, 1.5V, 1.8V, 2.5V, 3.3V

1.2V, 1.5V, 1.8V, 2.5V, 3.3V

1.2V, 1.5V, 1.8V, 2.5V, 3.3V

The $3495 Virtex-7 VC707 kit includes a V485T evaluation board with a x8 PCI Express interface. The board has a Virtex-7 VX485T-2 FPGA, a mid-range Virtex-7 chip. The board has a Gigabit Ethernet (GMII, RGMII and SGMII) port plus an SFP/SFP+ transceiver connector. The GTX port (TX, RX) connects to four SMA connectors.

The FPGA has access to SODIMM DDR3 1600 memory along with an SD card interface and an 8 Kbyte I2C EEPROM. The PCI Express configuration is stored in a 128 Mbyte flash memory. The board has an HDMI video out port, a UART-to-USB bridge, a 2x16 LCD display, 8 LEDs, I2C port.

Fig. 1: Virtex-7 FPGA VC707 Evaluation Kit.

The board is designed to operate on a table top using the external power supply. It can also be plugged into a PCI Express x8 or x16 socket.

All the kits come with Xilinx's ISE Design Suite Logic edition. The more basic WebPACK version is free but this more advanced version is device-locked to the FPGA on the board. The kits alos come with Xilinx's ChipScope Pro Serial I/O Toolkit. Reference designs include an IBERT transceiver test design, a multiboot reference design, a PCI Express x8 Gen 2 test design and a DDR3 memory interface design.

The Virtex and Kintex boards have a pair of FMC-HPC connectors. These support eight GTX transceivers, 160 single-ended or 80 differential user-defined signals. FMC cards have been very popular for customizing carrier boards with form factors like VPX and CompactPCI.

The big difference between the mezzanine carriers and Xilinx's cards is that the carriers are designed for rugged, production environments. The FMC cards have a solid mount and usually expose the I/O to the outside world. The two FMC sockets on the Xilinx boards actually put the FMC cards off to one side. This tends to be too precarious for production work and even prototyping with if the Xilinx boards are plugged into a PCI Express socket. The configuration works just fine for lab and development work and the sockets do have two mounting holes next to the socket.

There are hundreds of FMC cards that will work with the Xilinx boards. The $3995 Kintex-7 FPGA DSP Kit that uses the Kintex board actually comes with 4DSP's FMC150 (Fig. 2).

Fig. 2: 4DSP's FMC150 plugs into any FPGA board with an FMC connector.

The FMC150 mezzanine card (Fig. 3) is FMC VITA 57.1 Compliant. It has a pair of 14-bit 250 Msample/s ADCs and two 16-bit 800 Msample/s DACs. The Kintex-7 FPGA DSP Kit comes with ISE but it also includes an evaluation version of The MathWorks' Matlab and Simulink. These tools are commonly used for DSP application development especially with ADC/DAC I/O like that provided by the FMC150.

Fig. 3: 4DSP's FMC150 has a pair of 14-bit 250 Msample/s ADCs and two 16-bit 800 Msample/s DACs.

Kintex-7 FPGA KC 705 Base Evaluation Kit (Fig. 4) has a Kintex-7 XC7K325T FPGA on-board. It has a similar I/O complement to the Virtex-7 board although some connecters and the SODIMM are in different locations. Like the Kintex-7 board, it also has a socket for the included Agile Mixed Signal (AMS) board (Fig. 5).

Fig. 4: Kintex-7 FPGA KC 705 board runs a Kintex-7 XC7K325T FPGA.

The AMS evaluation board is a lower cost, lower performance alternative to the FMC150 that comes with the Kintex-7 FPGA DSP Kit. The AMS has a pair of ADCs connected to a mux with 17 external channels. The board is designed to work with all Series 7 FPGAs.

Fig. 5: The Agile Mixed Signal (AMS) provides a low cost ADC source.

The kits are designed to run out of the box with plenty of references designs to get developers up and designing quickly. The demo I saw included working with a graphical diagnostic application highlighting a video processing design.

Xilinx delivered a range of application specific kits in the past for the Series 6 FPGAs (see FPGA Design Platform Kits Highlight Automotive Convergence). These included platforms like a Surround View Design Platform that integrated four digital cameras designed to be space around a car.

These new Series 7 platforms will be the basis for similar kits in the future. Typically these will include addition FMC cards like the 4DSP FMC150 found in the DSP kit. Likewise, there will be matching reference designs and possibly additional software support.

TAGS: Digital ICs
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