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MicroZed Chronicles: Alinx VD100

One of the nice things about writing this blog is that I get to take a look at many new FPGA and SoC boards. A few weeks ago, I received a new Versal AI Edge-based board with the VE2302 device from Alinx who develops a range of FPGA boards and modules out of China.

At first glance, this is an interesting board because it’s actually two boards. The first is the VD100 SoM which contains the Versal VE2302 device along with 4 GB of DDR4, QSPI (512 Mb), EMMC (8 GB) in addition to clocking and power. Clocking wise, the SoM provides the PS side with 32768 Hz for the RTC and 33.33 MHz for the main PS clock.  A 200 MHz differential clock is also provided to clock the programmable logic if required, versus using the PS/PL clocks. Power wise, the SoM is designed to run from a 7.5V to 15V input with conversion to the core with additional and auxiliary voltages also provided on board.

To provide interfacing from the SoM to the wider world (in this case a carrier card), signal break out is provided over two 160 Samtec connectors. Signals broken out via this connector include the MIO, PL, and the gigabit serial links.

 

When it comes to deciding which carrier card the SoM is mounted on, developers are presented with a range of interfaces for expansion and communication.

 

To get data on and off the Versal device quickly, the carrier card provides a PCIe 3.0x 4 connector and two SFP interfaces which can be used for high-speed interfacing to copper and optical interfaces. There are also slower speed interfaces provided for control and communication including dual Gigabit Ethernet ports and USB host. Interestingly, one of the Gigabit Ethernet controllers is connected to the PS and the other the PL. If desired, this means a time sensitive networking approach could potentially be undertaken by leveraging the PL interface.

 

Of course, there is also the ubiquitous USB UART which helps us view the terminal when using PetaLinux or BareMetal developments.

 

Further IO expansion is provided by dual MIPI camera interfaces and a LVDS display interface. This makes the VD100 ideal for demonstrating the power of the Versal AI Edge device. The image processing chain can be implemented in the programmable logic, while the PS and AIE ML tiles can be used for implementation of a convolutional neural network to perform objected detection or classification.

 

The VD100 also offers a CANFD interface which is a popular interface standard used for automotive and industrial applications. The VD100 also provides a Pmod interface, along with LEDS and Buttons which can be accessed from both the PL and PS.

 

This is the first Alinx board I have really worked with or explored. I notice there is information about the board provided in the user manual and also a git-repo which contains several step-by-step examples of how to get started with the PL and PS applications.

 

I am going to spend a little more time exploring this board and perhaps order the LCD display since I think it could be interesting to look at how we can do image processing etc. on Versal.


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