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Adam Taylor’s MicroZed Chronicles, Part 130: An Introduction National Instruments’ Zynq-based RIO Evaluation Kit

Xilinx Employee
Xilinx Employee
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By Adam Taylor


We are leaving Embedded Vision for a while (we will come back to it, as it is a wide topic) and will now look at another way to use the Zynq SoC’s PS (Processor System) and PL (Programmable Logic) sections by employing National Instruments’ (NI’s) LabVIEW and high-level synthesis. To do this, we will be using NI’s LabVIEW RIO Evaluation Kit, which is based on a Zynq Z7020 SoC. NI’s RIO is supported by NI’s LabVIEW Real Time application and LabVIEW FPGA. Over the next few weeks we be creating designs using this framework.


At this point I should add that developing for the Zynq this way is new to me, so it will be interesting for me to learn how to develop designs using this approach along with you over the next few blogs.


You can choose from one of three possible development methods for NI’s RIO Evaluation kit as shown below:





Available Development Frameworks for NI’s RIO Evaluation Kit



These three different methods allow us to best develop our system totally within the LabVIEW framework, entirely in C/C++, or using a combination of LabVIEW and C/C++. This provides flexibility allows us to pick the best approach for the particular application requirements of each new project. It’s really nice to have that flexibility.


I find the RIO evaluation kit architecture interesting. The kit is based on NI’s sbRIO-9637, where the “sb” stands for “single board.” The sbRIO-9637 provides USB and SD Card interfaces and it uses the Zynq SoC’s EMIO extension into the PL to provide a number of hardware interfaces including CAN, RS232, RS485, and GigE. (The image below shows the board architecture.) The board also uses the Zynq SoC’s XADC to provide a number of analog inputs as well as four analog outputs and 28 digital IO lines from the Zynq SoC’s PL.





sbRIO-9637 Board Architecture



The RIO Development Kit combines the sbRIO-9637 board with a demo board that contains the following:


  • LCD Character Display
  • Quadrature Encoder
  • Potentiometer
  • User LEDs
  • Temperature Senor
  • 5 push buttons
  • 6 Analogue Inputs
  • 2 Analogue Outputs
  • 4 digital IO lines






Top of the NI RIO Evaluation Kit board showing LCD, etc.






NI RIO Evaluation Kit Board arrangement – Boards are connected via MIO and DIO connectors




These I/O resources should allow us to develop some pretty interesting applications that will familiarize us with the development framework.


Because the LabVIEW RIO development framework differs significantly from what we have used before, the first thing we need to do to get this kit up and running is install the software. The kit includes two DVDs: the first is the evaluation kit software and needs to be installed before we can develop designs for the board; the second is the LabVIEW FPGA Xilinx tools DVD.


Now here is where it gets really cool. We can either install the second DVD or we can use the cloud based FPGA compile service (use of this is required if using Win 8 or 10). My internet connection is pretty slow, so I will install the second DVD and will run all of the software locally. Although I promise to try and use the cloud compile at least once if possible to see how it works.


Installing the first disk is pretty simple. We need to ensure the evaluation kit is connected to our router so it can be validated and so that we obtain the IP address, which we will need for future developments.


Once the software is installed, we’ll look at creating our first application—which I will address next time.





The code is available on Github as always.


If you want E book or hardback versions of previous MicroZed chronicle blogs, you can get them below.




  • First Year E Book here
  • First Year Hardback here.




 MicroZed Chronicles hardcopy.jpg



  • Second Year E Book here
  • Second Year Hardback here



MicroZed Chronicles Second Year.jpg 




You also can find links to all the previous MicroZed Chronicles blogs on my own Web site, here.









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