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Tiny ARM+FPGA SBC gains beefier FPGA

Nov 13, 2013 — by Eric Brown — 3,329 views

Avnet has spun a new version of its community backed, Linux-ready ARM+FPGA MicroZed board that features a more powerful FPGA. The MicroZed 7020 System-on-Module moves up from the Xilinx Zynq-7010 to the Zynq-7020 system-on-chip, providing the same dual ARM Cortex-A9 cores, but offering programmable logic that’s two to three times more potent.

Avnet announced its tiny MicroZed board in August, two months after achieving production availability of its larger, more I/O rich ZedBoard single board computer. Like most products we’ve seen built around Xilinx’s hybrid ARM+FPGA Zynq-7000 SoC, the community backed, $385 ZedBoard uses the Zynq-7020 model. Yet, the $192 MicroZed 7010 downshifted to the Zynq-7010 model, which offers about a third less FPGA capability, but is otherwise largely identical.

MicroZed is based on a Xilinx ARM+FPGA SoC
(click images to enlarge)


Now, Avnet has released a Zynq-7020 based MicroZed 7020 model, bumping the price up to $289. The board otherwise appears to be identical, although it provides 15 more GPIO connections. In addition, its dual Cortex-A9 cores are now said to run at 866MHz instead of the 667MHz of the other boards. It’s unclear whether the MicroZed 7010 and the ZedBoard have also been bumped up to 866MHz.

Like the original MicroZed 7010, the MicroZed 7020 measures 4.0 x 2.25 inches and straddles the line between SBC and computer-on-module, enabling the device to be used in either role. Since the original MicroZed announcement, Avnet has begun selling the MicroZed 7010 board unbundled from its $199 evaluation kit. The board-only version lacks the kit’s cable, case, and software voucher for the Xilinx Vivado Design Edition. The new MicroZed 7020 is only available unbundled, and is not offered as part of an evaluation kit.

Block diagrams: MicroZed SBC, Xilinx Zynq-7000 SoC
(click images to enlarge)


The Zynq-7020 (XC7Z020-1CLG400C) [PDF] on the MicroZed 7020 offers an FPGA with 85K logic cells, compared to 28K for the Zynq-7010. It also offers 53,200 look-up tables (LUTs), up from 17,600, and supplies 560KB of extensible block RAM, compared to 240KB. The SoC provides 220 programmable DSP slices, up from 80, and features over twice the DSP processing power with over 200 GMACs.

Like the original MicroZed, a ready-to-use Linux filesystem is loaded onto soldered-on, bootable QSPI flash, but it also supports a full Linux OS, downloadable from the website, and is said to be compatible with Android.

MicroZed functions and connectors, top and bottom
(click images to enlarge)


The MicroZed 7020 ships with 1GB of DDR3 RAM. Real-world ports are limited to a gigabit Ethernet port, a micro-USB 2.0 host/OTG port, and a USB 2.0-interfaced UART. On the bottom of the board there’s a pair of 100-pin “microheaders” containing a total of 115 user I/O signals. The MicroZed is backed up by the community website, and is available with full schematics, BOM, layouts, mechanicals, and hardware user guides.

For more details on the MicroZed — including a full spec list — see our earlier MicroZed coverage.

Further information

The MicroZed 7020 SOM is available from Avnet at $289 in quantities up to 99. The MicroZed 7010 Evaluation Kit (includes cable, case, and software voucher for Xilinx Vivado Design Edition) goes for $199, and the MicroZed 7010 SOM (unbundled) is $192 for quantities less than 100. More information may be found at the MicroZed site.

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