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Adam Taylor's MicroZed Chronicles Part 155: Introducing the PYNQ (Python + Zynq) Dev Board

Xilinx Employee
Xilinx Employee
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By Adam Taylor


Having recently received a Xilinx/Digilent PYNQ Dev Board, I want to spend some time looking at this rather exciting Zynq-based board. For those not familiar with the PYNQ, it combines the capability of the Zynq and the productivity of the Python programming language and it comes in a rather catching pink color.





PYNQ up and running on my desk



Hardware-wise, PYNQ incorporates an on-board Xilinx Zynq Z-7020 SoC, 512Mbytes of DDR SDRAM, HMDI In and Out, Audio In and Out, two PMOD ports, and support for the popular Arduino Interface Header. We can configure the board from either the SD card or QSPI. On its own, PYNQ would be a powerful development board. However, there are even more exciting aspects to this board that enable us to develop applications that use the Zynq SoC’s Programmable Logic.


The Zynq SoC runs a Linux kernel with a specific package that supports all of the PYNQ’s capabilities. Using this package, it is possible to place hardware overlays (in reality bit files developed in Vivado) in to the programmable logic of the Zynq.


The base PYNQ supports all of the PYNQ interfaces as shown below:





PYNQ PL hardware overlay



Within the supplied software environment, the PYNQ hardware and interfaces are supported by the Pynq Package. This package allows you to use the Python language to drive PYNQ’s GPIO, video, and audio interfaces along with a wide range of PMOD boards. We use this package within the code we have developed and documented using the Jupyter note book, which is the next part of the PYNQ framework.


As engineers, we ought to be familiar with the Python Language and Linux, even if we are not experts in either. However, we may be unfamiliar with Jupyter notebooks. These are Web-based, interactive environments that allow us to run code, widgets, document, plots, and even video within the Jupyter notebook Web pages.


A Jupyter notebook server runs within the Linux kernel that’s running on the PYNQ’s Zynq SoC. We use this interface to develop our PYNQ applications. Jupyter notebooks and overlays are the core of the PYNQ development methodology and over the next series of blogs we are going to explore how we can use these notebooks and overlays and even develop our own as required.


Let’s look at how we can power up the board and get our first “hello world” program running. We’ll develop a simple program that allows us to understand the process flow.


The first thing to do is to configure an SD card with the latest kernel image, which we can download from here. With this downloaded, the next step is to write the ISO file to the SD card using an application like Win Disk Imager (if we are using Microsoft Windows).


Insert the SD card into the PYNQ board (check that the jumper is set for SD boot) and connect a network cable to the Ethernet port. Power the board up and, once it boots, we can connect to the PYNQ board using a browser.


In a new browser window enter the address http://pynq:9090, which will take us to a log-on page where we enter the username Xilinx. From there we will see the Juypter notebook’s welcome page:




The PYNQ welcome page



Clicking on “Welcome to Pynq.ipynb” will open a welcome page that tells us how to navigate around the notebook and where to find supporting material.


For this example, we are going to create our own very simple example to demonstrate the flow, as I mentioned earlier. Again, we run the Python programs from within the Juypter notebook. We can see which programs we currently have running on the PYNQ by clicking on the “Running” tab, which is present on most notebook pages. Initially we have no notebooks running, so clicking on it right now will only show us that there are no running notebooks.




Notebooks running on the PYNQ



To create your own example, click on the examples page and then click on “New.” Select “notebooks Python 3” from the icon on the right:




Creating a new notebook



This will create a new notebook called untitled. We can change the name to whatever we desire by clicking on “untitled,” which will open a dialog box to allow us to change the name. I am going to name my example after the number of this MicroZed Chronicles blog post (Part 155).





Changing the name of the Notebook



The next thing we wish to do is enter the code we wish to run on the PYNQ. Within the notebook, we can mark text as either Code, Markdown, Heading, or Raw NBConvert.





We can mark text as either Code, Markdown, Heading, or Raw NBConvert



For now, select “code” (if it is not already selected) and enter the code: print(“hello world”)






The code to run in the notebook



We click the play button to run this very short program. With the box selected and all being well, you will see the result appear as below:





Running the code





 Result of Running the Code



If we look under the running tab again, we will see that this time there is a running application:




Running Notebooks




If we wish to stop the notebook from running then we click on the shutdown button.


Next time, we will look at how we can use the PYNQ in more complex scenarios.


We can also use the PYNQ board as a traditional Zynq based development board if desired. This makes the PYNQ one of the best dev board choices available now.


Note, you can also log on to the PYNQ board using a terminal programme like PuTTY with the username and password Xilinx.





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




All of Adam Taylor’s MicroZed Chronicles are cataloged here.






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