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snickerdoodle $55 Open Source ZYNQ board on crowdsupply

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A new ZYNQ board with wifi built-in starts at $55 per board. I had emailed with the guys who started this project a while back. Sounds like a good project. I have no idea how they can sell these that cheap. The loading configurations via a phone could be really nice way to deploy solutions.

 

Seem to be really focused on flight/drones and computer vision

 

Z7010 and Z7020 version

Dual core Cortex-A9 hard processors

512 or 1204 LPDDR memory

wifi

Bluetooth classic and low energy

100+ GPIO

 

 

https://www.crowdsupply.com/krtkl/snickerdoodle

 

Curious what other think about this one.

 

Thanks,

Chris

 

 

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At 5W power consumption (should be same as Parallella), its not suitable for battery-powered applications.

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Alvie,

Good point and info. Thankfully most of my applications are not battery powered.

I liked the $55 or $60 price tag. I also have a parallela but they have gone way up in price for boards now.

Thanks,

Chris

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Wow, they are promising a lot! Seems... Almost too good to be true... 

 

Unless they have a large team it is going to be very difficult to deliver everything they are proposing. 

 

Jack.

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Adding to Jack's comment, it seems like they have an awful lot of boards there which is going to dilute their effort quite a bit.

 

While the $55 is impressive, you'll probably need a base board to do anything useful with it.  So add $10 for "down connectors" and another $55 for the piSmasher and now you're at $120, which is not so impressive.

 

As is usual for me, I also object to their calling it "Open Source" without noting that the Xilinx Vivado software is absolutely not open-source and that there's no open-source tool-chain for Zynq that I know of.  Please correct me if I'm wrong!

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Jack,

Yeah I would agree. I think it is a tall order and they can't be making any money doing it. They must have some sort of plan for generating income from other methods to support it. Hopefully it pans out though.

 

John,

I don't know the kind of projects you work on, but for the ones I working on the $55 board with like $15 is connectors and wires would work fine for me. Most of the projects I am working on only require networking and GPIO. I would agree on the open source term. I think probably they are referring to their app and configurator and the hardware being open source, just like designlab is open source but ISE is not. But I think you are 100% correct that all Zynq use closed source for the FPGA portion at least. Of course, the Linux that runs on the ARM's hard processors is open source so possibly if you don't use the FPGA fabric it could be considered open source, but to me that defeats the purpose of using a Zynq board, might as well just use a cheaper ARM.

 

What I hope works out is their app for configuration and deploying solutions, if they get enough of solutions to chose from.

 

If anyone has worked on a Zynq project, one that is more than just loading an demo image, all I can say the process is tedious at best. I have one configuration that I have petalinux on CPU0 and bare metal on CPU1(AMP config) plus FPGA logic. Very tedious to build the multiple board support packages, bootloaders, drivers, on top of normal code and keep it all in sync so it all builds.

 

Just my thoughts.

 

Thanks,
Chris

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If anyone has worked on a Zynq project, one that is more than just loading an demo image, all I can say the process is tedious at best. I have one configuration that I have petalinux on CPU0 and bare metal on CPU1(AMP config) plus FPGA logic. Very tedious to build the multiple board support packages, bootloaders, drivers, on top of normal code and keep it all in sync so it all builds.

 

Thank you for this perspective.  I was wondering about this aspect of working with Zynq.  Along with cost, this may help explain why Zynq doesn't seem to be getting a lot of traction.

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I was thinking about making a ZYNQ board and after playing around with ZYBO I felt it was going to be waaay to hard to support...

 

Jack.

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Over a decade ago I looked into Xilinx Virtex-II Pro (FPGA + Power PC CPU) for my then-employer.  It seemed like an excellent match, since we used Power PC processors.  The pricing of the chips convinced us otherwise, as did the difficulty in getting a Virtex-II Pro FPGA running.  IIRC, you had to configure the FPGA before you could use the CPU, which meant that you couldn't use the CPU to download the FPGA.  I don't know how many mistakes Xilinx chose to retain for Zynq.

 

We ended up using an AMCC (now Applied Micro) PPC405EP, a low-cost SoC with dedicated SDRAM interface and 32-bit PCI bus connected to a Xilinx Spartan-IIE.  That worked beautifully.  Unfortunately Applied Micro has deemphasized Power PC in favor of ARMv8, so it's really hard to find suitable Power PC parts nowadays.  I consider Power PC to be a superior architecture, but ARM has the ecosystem on its side.

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Heh, "pay $10 more OR we will solder the connectors to the wrong side" :)

 

Anyway, Zynq could be an interesting chip for the future.

On a "fun" scale, Xilinx ISE is about the same as DIY dental surgery. Maybe Vivado improves on that...

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Alvie,

Nice. Looks like some nice features with the 64bit ARM and ARM cortex R and all. I wonder how long before we see a reasonable board with one of those on it.

 

Thanks,

Chris

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John,

I seem to remember the PowerPC CPU being pretty good too. I believe IBM used to use those on their midrange unix servers years ago, not sure if they still do.

With the Zynq I believe there are multiple boot options for programming fpga and all(at least from what I read in the TRM). I have been using the config where the bit file is in the initial boot file along with the first stage bootloader(FSB) and Linux u-boot. I believe the first stage bootloader loads the FPGA image, but I could be remembering incorrectly.

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As is usual for me, I also object to their calling it "Open Source" without noting that the Xilinx Vivado software is absolutely not open-source and that there's no open-source tool-chain for Zynq that I know of.  Please correct me if I'm wrong!

 

There's nothing wrong with an open-source project using closed-source development tools. The hardware and the code are open source so you could make your own version or modify it as you see fit. There's almost nothing that is completely and totally open source. Even on a Linux box you are going to have closed source hardware and BIOS.

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