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Digilent ARTY Z7 Dev Board - Review

Scoring

Product Performed to Expectations: 10
Specifications were sufficient to design with: 10
Demo Software was of good quality: 9
Product was easy to use: 8
Support materials were available: 9
The price to performance ratio was good: 10
TotalScore: 56 / 60
  • RoadTest: Digilent ARTY Z7 Dev Board
  • Buy Now
  • Evaluation Type: Development Boards & Tools
  • Was everything in the box required?: Yes
  • Comparable Products/Other parts you considered: Other FPGA development boards
  • What were the biggest problems encountered?: The different versions of the Vivado tool software works differently. It was not so easy to run the sample code. I had to re-install the different Vivado versions and try.

  • Detailed Review:

     

    Many thank you to element14 and Xilinx for choosing me for this road-test. Due to personal issues and some self-learning issues I am pretty delayed in posting this road-test. I apologize in advance for it to the community. Nevertheless I learnt a lot about fpga programming in the last months.

     

    Motivation

    During the last years, I worked in the development of IoT application to enable smart-home devices for remote control and monitoring. I have not worked majorly with the Xilinx FPGA boards but only at a small scale with FPGA programming. Maybe I should have made it more clear in my application for the road-test. This road test was perfect for me to further my learning with FPGAs and also embedded vision with camera.

     

     

    Unboxing the Package

     

    The packing was simple and arrived on time. It was properly sealed and packed in a box as shown below.

     

     

     

     

    The packaging and the Digilent Arty-Z7 board are shown above

     

     

    Schematic and Features Review

     

    The Diligent Arty-Z7 is full featured development board and I have tried to test it to the full length.

     

    Here we can see there are 2 types of Arty in the market

     

    Showing the power consumption of the board. It can be powered from the USB-JTAG-UART port (J14) or external power supply. I have used the USB-JTAG-UART port in the projects.

     

     

    Features of Diligent Arty-Z7 dev board

     

    Arty Z7 configuration pins

     

     

    The Zynq APSoC architecture is divided into two parts: The Processing System (PS) and the Programmable Logic (PL)

     

    Multi Gigabit unavailable on Digilent Arty-Z7

    Detailed view of the Arty Z7 board

     

    Programming the Digilent ARTY Z7 Dev Board

     

    Here I have run some basic code and try to find out the different methods to program the Digilent ARTY Z7 Dev Board. I am using the Xilinx Vivado 2016 and Vivado SDK to program the fpga board as it is recommended. I had not so good experience with the other versions of the Vivado as they were later as I read in some blogs not stable releases. I went with the last stable release of Xilinx Vivado 2016.

     

    The detailed fpga programming review is in Blog 1: Road test Digilent ARTY Z7 Dev Board

     

    PYNQ-Z1 Embedded Vision Setup on ARTY Z7

    Inspired by other road-testers who did a great job I also decided to run the PYNQ-Z1 setup on the FPGA board. Also test the embedded vision and facial recognition code with a USB camera.

     

    I have posted it here in the blog Blog 2: Digilent ARTY Z7 with PYNQ-Z1 Embedded Vision

     

     

    Conclusion

     

    During testing the Digilent Arty-Z7 the board also gets hot when run for a long time. And the errors as mentioned above happened so often in my project that I thought that the Digilent Arty-Z7 board is broken but actually it needs multiple resets to get the board. Sometimes I had the feeling that the dev-board went into an unrecognized state from where it cannot come back hence only option is to do a hard reset by removing the complete power of the board.

     

    As I am not a very hardware intensive engineer so it was difficult for me to figure this out in the beginning. But thanks to the help from other local community members dhmarinov and snidhi I am now understanding that these issues are also common in other fpga boards. The experience of other hardware persons helped me to realize that the problems were not happening specific to my setup.

     

    Thank you for reading and see you later.


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