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MicroZed Chronicles: PicoZed Finally!

Readers of this blog will know I am a big supporter of system on modules (SoM). From the MicroZed to the UltraZed, Snickerdoodle and of course Kria, when used correctly, these SoMs reduce the technical risk on development and enable us to start working with the hardware much earlier on.


I recently purchased a couple of MicroZeds to support an internal camera development project because I did not want to risk my original MicroZed and I noticed that PicoZed was also in stock. In all the years I’ve been writing and working on AMD devices, I have never developed for a PicoZed and therefore could not resist purchasing a PicoZed fitted with a Zynq 7030 and the PicoZed FMC carrier card.

I intentionally selected the Z-7030 variant because it also provides PL transceivers in the GTX which are capable of operation at up to 6.6 Gbps versus the GTP transceivers on the Zynq 7015 capable of 3.75 Gbps. This means we can make some great applications and projects based around the GTX.


One of the major differences between the MicroZed and the PicoZed is a level of peripheral integration. Along with memories, clocking and power interfaces, there are several peripheral interfaces on the MicroZed for communication such as Ethernet, USB and USB UART, JTAG, and boot-mode selection


Conversely, the PicoZed is more compact. While it still contains the Ethernet and USB PHYs, all its interfaces are connected via three mating connectors. Two are aligned as per the MicroZed and a third is horizontally across the board. As such, connectors are required on the carrier card in order to use the Ethernet and USB. Just like on the MicroZed, JX1 and JX2 provide the user IO, while a third header provides the Ethernet, USB, user IO and the GTP/GTX ports.


Another major difference between the MicroZed and PicoZed is the provision of a SD Card. The MicroZed includes a SD Card while the PicoZed provides eMMC memory which can be more reliable in production.


What this means is that while we can develop and use the MicroZed as a standalone, we cannot do the same with the PicoZed. Instead, we need to use a carrier card to start developing with the PicoZed.


To get started with a simple project, I decided to create a simple bare metal echo server for the PicoZed mounted on the FMC carrier card. This project is nice and simple but runs through the project creation and set up for the PicoZed.


We are presented with several possible options for the exact PicoZed model and the carrier card when we create the project.

The rest of the development is the same as we have done for countless previous Zynq designs and we can quickly and easily get up and running with the Echo server example.


I am sure I’ll be doing many more projects with the PicoZed over the next few months. I think the PicoZed is good where we need a larger device or the PL gigabit serial links like for commercial developments. It is also very good when we want to control the placement of external system connectors or when there are skyline limitations within the enclosure. Both the MicroZed and the PicoZed are great SoMs which can really help our developments.


Workshops and Webinars


If you enjoyed the blog why not take a look at the free webinars, workshops and training courses we have created over the years. Highlights include

Embedded System Book Do you want to know more about designing embedded systems from scratch? Check out our book on creating embedded systems. This book will walk you through all the stages of requirements, architecture, component selection, schematics, layout, and FPGA / software design. We designed and manufactured the board at the heart of the book! The schematics and layout are available in Altium here Learn more about the board (see previous blogs on Bring up, DDR validation, USB, Sensors) and view the schematics here.



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