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KCU105: The Perfect Environment for Developing and Testing Cutting-Edge FPGAs

The process of developing Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) is being simplified by the day. You can now use development boards to build and test the first set of FPGAs before they are due for release in the market.

With many options out there, you may be wondering what it would take to pick the best of the FPGA development boards. Also, how reliable is the board? All these are going to be covered in this article, with a particular reference to how the KCU105 can be a gamechanger.

The Concept Behind the KCU105

The core concept behind KCU105 is to make a development board, specifically tailored for Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs). It also doubles as an evaluation kit – offering a combination of FPGA development and testing on one board.

It is imperative to mention here that the KCU105 is best described as the “perfect development environment for evaluating the cutting-edge Kintex UltraScale FPGAs.”

The Tailored Solution

KCU105 can only be used to test the different Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs) classified under the Xilinx Kintex UltraScale family.

These FPGAs are known for many things, including the capabilities to offer the right balance of power, performance and price. The Kintex UltraScale FPGAs also deliver excellent power management, ASIC-class system-level performance and excellent clock management.

Outstanding Features of the KCU105 Evaluation Kit

One can expect that the KCU105 offers the facilities or components needed for testing the Kintex UltraScale FPGAs to be certain of the performance. While that is the case, the kit offers much more.

Below are some of the outstanding features and benefits of using the KCU105 to evaluate the Kintex UltraScale FPGAs:

1. KCU105 Provides Real-time Prototyping

Want to make a prototype of any of the Kintex UltraScale FPGAs by Xilinx? You can do that in the shortest time possible by using the KCU105. It offers one of the fastest prototyping capabilities.

You can be sure that this evaluation kit can further bolster the FPGA prototyping capability with the provision of the necessary tools and peripherals. Examples of the peripherals provided on the kit are:

  • FPGA Mezzanine Card (FMC) Interface: two of the FMCs are provided. These cards are used to provide the interface needed for the expansion of the Input and Output (I/O) ports on the KCU105.
  • PCI Express (PCIe) Gen3 x 8
  • 64-bit DDR4 Component Memory
  • Dual SFP+ cages for Ethernet

2. Ideal for Multiple Application’s Prototyping

You can also use the KCU105 as an evaluation kit for testing the outcome of the prototypes made for the different supported applications.

The kit can be used to test both the medium and the high-volume applications, which have been developed and optimized by the Xilinx Kintex UltraScale FPGAs.

These applications cut across:

  • DSP-intensive applications
  • Data center applications and;
  • Wireless infrastructure applications

What Makes up the Kit?

Full pcb manufacturing

In this section, we will highlight and explain some of the components, making up the KCU105. Below are some of them and how they work:

3. The Expansion Connectors

These are the sets of peripherals required for expanding or extending the functionalities of the KCU105. Below are some of the components:

  • FMC-HPC (Partial Population) connector (8 GTX Transceivers, 114 single-ended or 57 differential (34 LA $ 24 HA) user defined signals).
  • IIC
  • 2 x PMOD Headers

4. Configuration

These are the peripherals required for the excellent optimization of the KCU105. The following are some of the supported peripherals:

  • JTAG Header: this is provided for use with the Xilinx download cables, especially the Platform Cable USB II.
  • Onboard JTAG Configuration Circuitry: this circuitry is used to enable the configuration of the Kintex UltraScale FPGAs using supported Universal Serial Buses (UBSs).

5. The Controlling I/O

These are the different Input and Output (I/O) ports used to facilitate the control of the KCU105. Included here are:

  • Differential Pair I/O (1 SMA Pair)
  • 5 x Directional Push Buttons
  • 1 x Rotary Switch and;
  • 4 x DIP Switches

KCU105’s Resources

If you would make the most out of what KCU105, in terms of FPGA evaluation, you would need some resources.

Below are some of the supported resources and how they work:

6. Design Tools

This refers to the core tools needed to enable the design and testing of the Xilinx Kintex UltraScale FPGAs. The KCU105 currently supports the Vivado Design Suite (the Design Edition).

In addition to being a suite of tools used for scaling the FPGAs’ design from the “ground up,” the Vivado Design Suite serves a variety of other purposes. Below are some of the additional functions:

  • Accelerated Implementation: the testing of the FPGAs is one major step. The other is the scaling of the implementation process – a model that quickens the FPGAs’ time-to-market. In this aspect, the Vivado Design Suite offers the Vivado ML Edition – the Machine Learning (ML) variant that helps accelerate the implementation phase of the FPGAs’ design cycle.
  • Cost-Saving FPGA Evaluation: in addition to offering the entire FPGA evaluation on one kit, KCU105 also offers a way to save costs. It does that via the combined functions of the High-Level Design (HLS) tools and the Vivado IP Integrator. This combo offers a better FPGA testing and a rapid complex system assembly, which, in turn, helps to reduce the development costs, when compared to the RTL approach.

7. Intellectual Property

IP tools are not left out in the KCU105. The list of IP tools includes the:

  • Memory Interface Generator (MIG): this Intellectual Property (IP) is designed to be a free software tool used to “generate memory controllers and interfaces for Xilinx FPGAs.”
  • PCI Express DMA Bridge Core

Final Thoughts on KCU105

If you have been looking for an FPGA development and testing kit, we think your investment in the KCU105 would be worth it. Xilinx specifically made it to be the go-to evaluation kit for optimizing the performances of the various Kintex UltraScale Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs).

One of the features we like about KCU105 is the fact that it has most of the components, tools and peripherals you will need to evaluate and develop the Xilinx Kintex UltraScale FPGA.

Besides, you can always consult the portfolio of documentations for a list of the steps to get working with the kit.



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