By Joe DeLaere, Xilinx Product Marketing Manager for Zynq UltraScale+ RFSoC Kits
Zynq UltraScale+ RFSoC is a definitive breakthrough technology for the industry, providing the first integrated multi-gigabit sampling ADC and DAC capability with an FPGA fabric for full radio digital front-end solutions. This is a paradigm shift for system designers that enables smaller board footprints, lower system power, and simplified development for RF-class applications.
Announced just last year (2017), Xilinx is already shipping Zynq UltraScale+ RFSoC silicon in Production volume for all family members. To get this technology in developers’ hands for fast development and evaluation, Xilinx (and partners) have made the following available:
Zynq UltraScale+ RFSoC ZCU111 Evaluation kits with production silicon shipping now, complete with a slick, convenient evaluation tool GUI
A ZCU111 Band42 optimized balun add-on card for 5G and other high performance RF application development
The new Zynq UltraScale+ RFSoC ZCU1275 Characterization Kit for 16x16 configurations, orderable now and shipping soon
Must-Have Analog Performance GUI Tool
As discussed in my previous blog, the new Zynq UltraScale+ RFSoC ZCU111 Evaluation kit is a first of its kind with its integrated analog and FPGA logic silicon on a single development platform. Recently released, the RF Data Converter Evaluation Tool runs with the ZCU111 to give designers a GUI to analyze and configure the 8 x 8 ADC/DACs on the ZU28DR RFSoC. This evaluation tool includes a ZCU111 reference design that communicates through Ethernet to a host machine GUI in three separate modes:
Stand-alone ADC: Generate an analog signal from external equipment or source and feed to the ADC inputs. The digital output of the ADC can be analyzed on the host machine using the GUI.
Stand-alone DAC: A signal pattern is generated using the GUI on the host machine. This pattern is constantly repeated on the selected DAC channel. The output of the DAC can be monitored on any standard external equipment, such as a spectrum analyzer or oscilloscope.
DAC to ADC Loopback: The output of the DAC is looped back to the input of ADC. You can generate a pattern on the DAC from the GUI and analyze the same pattern on the ADC output in the GUI.
Because the evaluation tool uses a TCP socket to transfer data over Ethernet, it is possible to run the GUI on any machine connected to the same network as the ZCU111 board. After installing the evaluation tool, setting up files, and configuring with the included image file, you can begin to evaluate all ADC or DAC channels in a multi-view mode or single channel view mode shown below.
Figure 1: Full 8 Channel ADC Multi-view on the RF Data Converter Evaluation Tool
Figure 2: Single Channel ADC View with Dynamic Performance Metrics
Zynq UltraScale+ RFSoC devices provide an integrated time-to-market solution for 5G solutions, including L1 offloading, wireless backhaul, and 5G new radio. To provide a quick method for evaluating and prototyping 5G and other 8x8 solutions on the RFSoC, Xilinx’s partner Whizz Systems offers a Band42 BPF Balun add-on card (WS-508) that mates with the ZCU111 RFMC connectors. The WS-508 is designed using Xilinx’s recommended high-performance RF board design guidelines and provides a full 8x8 band42 break-out for prototyping with ZCU111. Contact Whizz Systems to order now. http://www.whizzsystems.com/products.
Figure 3: WS-508 8x8 Band42 Optimized Balun Daughter Card for the ZCU111
The newly introduced Zynq UltraScale+ RFSoC ZCU1275 Characterization Kit provides everything a designer needs to characterize and evaluate the integrated 16x16 ADC/DAC configuration on the ZU29DR. All ZU29DR flagship features are available for testing, including all 16 12-bit 2GSPS ADCs, all 16 14-bit 6.4GSPS DACs, all 16 GTY transceivers, and all 4 GTR transceivers. Connectivity for these signals is via Samtec BullsEye connectors. With BullsEye connectors, you can connect to custom baluns and test equipment for a high level of testing flexibility in your custom applications. The board includes analog power modules and all the clocking hardware required for the RF data converters and transceivers. The kit includes hardware necessary (shown below) to begin evaluation including filters, balun card, SMA cables, and two BullsEye cables. To find out more on this kit and to order now, visit http://www.xilinx.com/zcu1275.
Figure 4: ZCU1275 Characterization Kit Contents
All of these RFSoC boards, cards, and tools provide the necessary framework for RF-class designers to hit the ground running and take advantage of the RFSoC silicon advantage and technology.