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Adam Taylor’s MicroZed Chronicles, Part 235: Multi Channel DMA and Zynq SoC XADC Streaming—Low-overhead data acquisition

Xilinx Employee
Xilinx Employee
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By Adam Taylor


We recently looked at how we could use the Zynq SoC’s XADC streaming output with DMA. For that example, I demonstrated only outputting one XADC channel over an AXI stream. However, it is important we understand how we can use multiple channels within an AXI stream to transfer them to processor memory whether we are using the XADC as the source or not.


To demonstrate this, I will be updating the XADC design that we used for the previous streaming example. Upgrading the software is simple. All we need to do is enable another XADC channel when we configure the sequencer and update the API we use. Updating the hardware is a little more complicated.


To upgrade the Vivado hardware design, the first thing we need to do is replace the DMA IP module with the multi-channel DMA (MCDMA) IP core. The MCDMA IP core supports as many as 16 different input channels. DMA channels are mapped to AXI Stream contents using the TDest bus, which is part of the AXIS standard.


As with the previous XADC streaming example, we’ll configure the MCDMA for uni-directional operation (write only) and support for two channels:





Configuration of the MCDMA IP core.






Vivado design with the MCDMA IP Core (Tcl BD available on GitHub)




TDest is the AXI signal used for routing AXI Stream contents. In addition, when we configure the XADC for AXI Streaming, the different XADC channels output on the stream are identified by the TId bus.


To be able to use the MCDMA in conjunction with the XADC, we need to remap the XADC TId channel to the MCDMA TDest channel. We also need to packetize data by asserting TLast on the MCDMA AXIS input.


In the previous example we used a custom IP core to generate the TLast signal. A better solution however is to remap the TId and generate the TLast signal using the AXIS subset converter.





AXIS Subset Converter Configuration



The eagle-eyed will at this point notice that the XADC uses channel numbers up to 31 with the auxiliary inputs using channel ID’s (16 to 31), which are outside the channel range of the MCDMA. If we are using the auxiliary inputs, we can also use the AXIS subset convertor to remap these higher channel numbers into the MCDMA range by remapping the lower four bits of the XADC TId to the MCDMA TDest channel. When using this method the lower XADC channels cannot be used otherwise there would be conflict.





Output of the XADC with multiple channels (Temperature & VPVN Channels)






Output of the AXIS subset block following remapping and TLast Generation




When it comes to updating the software application, we need to use the XMCDMA.h header APIs to configure the MCDMA and set up the buffer descriptors for each of the channels. The software performs the following steps:



  1. Allocate memory areas for the receive buffer and the buffer descriptors.
  2. For each Channel, create the buffer descriptors.
  3. Populate the buffer descriptors and the receive buffer address.
  4. Reset the receive buffer memory contents to zero.
  5. Invalidate the caching in on the receive buffer to ensure the values can be seen in DDR memory.
  6. Commit the channels to the hardware.
  7. Start the MCDMA transfers for each channel.



The software application defines several buffer descriptors for each channel. When it comes to the receive buffer for this example, I have used a single receive buffer so the received data for both channels shares the same address space. This can be seen below. Halfwords starting 0x4yyy relate to the VPVN input while the device temperature half words start 0x9yyy.






Memory Contents showing the two channels




This is a simple adaption to the existing software to use multiple receive buffers in memory. For many applications, separate receive buffers are more useful.


Being able to move AXI Data streams to memory-mapped locations is a vital requirement for many applications—for example signal processing, communication, and sensor interfacing.  Using the AXI subset convertor allows us to correctly remap and format the AXIS stream data into a compliant format for the MCDMA IP core.



You can find the example source code on GitHub.



Adam Taylor’s Web site is



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 





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