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Xilinx KCU105 Evaluation board is key for your demo

Xilinx KCU105 Evaluation board is key for your demo
by Luke Miller on 06-16-2014 at 5:34 pm

I love God, my wife, kids, and FPGA boards. I know I am not alone, there are other nerds out there, don’t be shy. Friday my “Kintex® UltraScale™ FPGA KCU105 Evaluation Kit” came in. Think about this, this is real 20nm Xilinx FPGA hardware that really works. Below is a nice picture of all the swizzles the board has.

I believe this is the first 20nm FPGA board available. I know, this board is obviously lacking an rs-232 port. I hate going thru the USB. I’m old fashioned. My favorite interface is anything fiber. I love fiber, and could be the spokesperson for Metamucil. Anytime I use these boards, I usually use fiber protocols such as VITA17.1/.2 or Fiber Channel. Some of you may pop the card into your PC and use PCIe. Some may use Ethernet, others USB. The point is the KCU105 handles all your interface demands.

The FMC expansion site, FMC1 will quickly let you integrate advanced new standards such as JESD204B, or an x8 Hybrid memory cube. Need memory? DDR4 is on board, already pinned out, ready to be accessed. Flash memory is also available to meet the needs of you that need coefficients or stored data to remain when the power goes off. The heart of this board is the XCKU040 in a -2 Speed Grade. That -2 speed grade means you can run the DSP at 661 MHz, it has 1920 DSP for a potential 2.5 TMACS, not bad!

Me being a RADAR fella, I plan to start playing with some algorithms using MATLAB, coding some C, using Vivado HLS and seeing what I can do. Times have really changed for me in two major areas with FPGA design. Back in the early days, I would have to wait for a custom board to come back, get tested and verified, and then I could test out all my hand written VHDL on the board. I must say this process was not smooth and seemed to make management very cranky. Today I can have my design ready and a Xilinx board around the same time to get near instant gratification. With less errors using Vivado HLS and IP Integrator, as I am no longer hand coding nor using custom CCA’s. Those of you that must have custom needs, and that is many of you, say for some anti-tamper requirements can still use the KCU105 evaluation board. It will allow you to verify your design with all the interfaces you need. When the custom board comes in, you have 99% confidence that if things are no worky, then the issues are perhaps on the custom hardware side. But remember it’s never the software guys 😉

Another trend I am seeing is very aggressive demo/design schedules. It seems that the end customer is not so interested in documents and power point but working demo hardware. Having this board for your demo could be the difference of winning or losing a bid. Xilinx is well aware of this, as I have one of the KCU105 board sitting on my desk. The question is will you have one? Expect availability by the end of the year and shipping in Jan 2015.

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