The Zynqberry FPGA development board is a Xilinx Zynq based board that takes on the universally recognized form-factor of the Raspberry Pi Model B ARM-based SBC (single board computer). Trenz Electronic is responsible for the design of the Zynqberry and has even created a followup board to it, the ZynqberryZero, which as one can probably guess, takes on the form factor of the Raspberry Pi Zero. 

Some of the Zynqberry’s key features as highlighted by Trenz (and verified by myself as a user) are:

  • Xilinx Zynq XC7Z010-1CLG225C
    – REV3: DDR3L SDRAM (512 MByte)
    – REV2: DDR3L SDRAM (128 – 512 MByte)
    – REV1: LPDDR2 SDRAM (64 MByte)
  • 16 MByte Flash
  • Raspberry Pi Model B form factor
  • LAN9514 USB hub with 10/100 Ethernet
    – 4 x USB 2.0 with power switches
    – 10/100 Mbit Ethernet RJ45
  • Micro SD card slot with card-detect switch
  • HDMI connector
  • DSI connector (Display)
  • CSI-2 connector (Camera)
  • HAT header with 26 I/Os
  • Micro-USB
    – power input
    – USB UART
    – JTAG ARM- and FPGA-Debug
  • 3.5 mm stereo audio socket (PWM audio output only)

I think this board is particularly fun for embedded Linux developers looking for a fun hobby project in converting their Raspberry Pi kernel drivers and embedded applications to the Zynqberry. The Zynqberry is well supported in Xilinx’s PetaLinux toolset via example PetaLinux projects provided by Trenz for peripheral demonstrations (such as demonstrating functionality with a Raspberry Pi MIPI/CSI camera.

While on the topic of existing Raspberry Pi projects, I think the Zynqberry board also serves as a great transition board into the FPGA world. Because of its Raspberry Pi form factor, and the fact that it retains the equivocal pinout on the 40-pin GPIO header, it is ready to receive and hardware peripherals a user might already have lying around for their Pis. This includes, but is not limited to hardware such as GPIO shields, cases, USB attachments (Wi-Fi dongles, keyboards, mice), cameras, and 3.5mm audio accessories. And while its ~$130 price tag is still an investment for a hobbyist, the quality of the Zynqberry coupled with its support makes it a solid choice for someone really wanting to transition into the FPGA world. The Xilinx toolset (Vivado, Vitis, and PetaLinux as of at least version 2018.3 and later) required to design for and program the Zynqberry also do not require a paid license for the design of the Zynqberry, thus there is not an additional software cost associated with the Zynqberry after purchase as Trenz has already pre-programmed the Digilent license needed by Xilinx software tools for JTAG access into the FTDI FT2232H EEPROM.

While I think the overall design and layout of the Zynqberry is quite clever, the only aspect that one might consider a downside is the fact that the selected Zynq package (CLG225) does not support booting embedded Linux straight from the SD card. It’s debatable as to whether or not one might classify this as a downfall or not because the only real consequences of it are some extra configuration steps in the embedded Linux image in PetaLinux to boot from the QSPI then load the kernel, device tree, and root filesystem from the SD card. 

This also creates an extra step in that the QSPI must be flashed with the boot binary using Xilinx’s software development IDE, Vitis, on top of configuring/loading the SD card. Someone who is newer to embedded Linux development might find this to be a challenge, but it is well documented by Trenz themselves and many hobbyist blog posts. It is important to note that the CLG225 package is on the lower end of the cost spectrum and therefore keeps the overall cost of the Zynqberry from increasing, so I personally find it worth the trade-off of dealing with booting from QSPI.

Standout features: 

  • Raspberry Pi Model B form factor 
  • Manufacturer provided documentation
  • Open source schematics