Let That Zynq In

Over the past two years Digilent has released several Xilinx Zynq platforms. We thought it would be a good time to review the offering and help navigate users to a board that is optimized for their end use!

Why Zynq?


Why Zynq?

Zynq is an All Programmable System on a Chip, or APSoC. Xilinx usually uses the term “All Programmable” to describe their FPGA technology. One can read the APSoC part of the name as, ‘an FPGA technology system in a single chip.’

So what does “System” actually mean, since FPGA chips are generally used to create custom system chips (or ASIC = Application Specific Integrated Circuits)?

In the case of Zynq It means that there are dedicated processors (two Dual-ARM Cortex A9 processors) inside of the chip as well as FPGA technology. This combination allows users to leverage the best of the Processor world and the FPGA world. 

fpga-icon processor-icon
  • Programmable Hardware
  • High Speed
  • Reusable
  • Flexible
  • Accessibility
  • Operating System
  • Common memory and peripherals
  • Ready to use
Examples: Artix 7, Kintex 7 etc.  Examples: Raspberry Pi, Arduino
  • Allows FPGA Hardware Programmers access to resources that Software programmers usually have e.g. UI, operating systems, drivers and other programming languages (such as Python).
  • Allows Software programmers to modify and extend the functionality to their hardware without needing to re-architect their programs.
  • The FPGA is available to extend the built in peripherals on the ARM A9 Processor, or to create custom extensions that the processor can interface with. This means that you can use the same design (hardware) repeatedly, but just tweak what you need to be different in each iteration.

Form Factor Overview

From single core offerings, FMC peripherals and onboard features such as a OLED display, our Zynq product offering is broken down into four main categories.


Cora is the smallest of the offerings, and in the most compact form factor, the Cora board was optimized for cost. This means we chose to omit on-board flash and to not populate headers. The board starts at $99 and comes in a single core Zynq option and a dual core-7010 option. It, like most Digilent boards has Pmod connectors and offers a dual-row Arduino expansion header.


The Arty is the next step up from the Cora board. It also has the dual-row Arduino headers and two Pmod ports, but has added HDMI in and out and on-board flash. The Arty comes in a dual core 7010 and 7020 version. The board starts at $199 and was optimized to provide low-cost expansion options (such as Arduino shields, Pmods, computer monitor, keyboard and SD card).


The Zybo really is the flagship of the Digilent Zynq offering. It is a board that is below $300 and is on it’s second generation. Offering a wide variety of peripherals such as audio in and out, HDMI, flash memory, USB and 5/6 Pmod ports the Zybo is optimized to be a low-cost training platform. The second generation of the Zybo offers a Pcam camera connector and comes in both a 7010 version and a 7020.


The largest of the boards is the iconic Zedboard. The Zedboard, a collaboration with Avnet, was the first widely available Zynq board to be released in the market. It only comes in a 7020 version, but offers higher-end peripherals such as an audio codec, onboard OLED display and a high speed FMC connector.

Which board is right for me?

To address that question, we have put together the selection table below. It’s helpful to first think about what peripherals you are looking for on the board. Then, the form factor. Once you have decided that, then you can choose between the Zynq options. 

Cora Z7sCora Z7-10Arty Z7-10Zybo Z7-10Zybo Z7-20Arty Z7-20ZedBoard
ProcessorSingle Arm Cortex™-A9Dual Arm Cortex™-A9Dual Arm Cortex™-A9Dual Arm Cortex™-A9Dual Arm Cortex™-A9Dual Arm Cortex™-A9Dual Arm Cortex™-A9
1MSPS on chip ADCYesYesYesYesYesYesYes
Look Up Tables14,40017,60017,60017,60053,20053,20053,200
Flip Flops28,80035,20035,20035,200106,400106,400106,400
Block RAM225 KB270 KB270 KB270 KB630 KB630 KB630 KB
Clock Management Tiles2222444
Available I/O494926324049n/A
Total Pmod Ports2225625
Pcam ConnectorNoNoNoYesYesNoYes, with Pcam FMC Adapter
FMC ConnectorNoNoNoNoNoNoYes
Fan ConnectorNoNonoNoYesno220
HDMINoNoTX and RX portsTX Port onlyTX and RX PortsTX and RX ports560 KB
RGB LEDs2121220
DDR3512 MB512 MB512 MB1GB1GB512 MB512 MB
Quad-SPI FlashN/AN/A16 MB16 MB16 MB16 MB256 MB
USB PowerYesYesYesYesYesYesYes
External Power4.5-5.5V4.5-5.5V7V-15V5 V5V7V-15V12 V
Ethernet PHY10/100/1G10/100/1G10/100/1G10/100/1G10/100/1G10/100/1G10/100/1G
SD1 microSD1 microSD1 microSD1 microSD1 microSD1 microSD1 SD
Audio Codecn/an/aPWM drivenSSM2603SSM2603PWM drivenADU1761
Video I/ON/AN/AHDMI in and OutHDMI in and outHDMI In and OutHDMI in and outHDMI                                        VGA                                    128×32 OLED Display
Other Featuresunpopulated header and Arduino Expansionunpopulated header and Arduino ExpansionDual Arduino Explansion HeadersPcam PortPcam PortDual Arduino Expansion HeadersFMC Port

Hopefully this sync-up Zynq-up helped out with navigating our offering. Let us know in the comments if you have any questions or hop onto our website to see all of our Zynq products yourself!

About Larissa Swanland

I'm a bit of an electronics-education evangelist. After all, Education is how we learn about the world. Electronics make the world better. Engineers change the world. So more engineers that know how to design and create electronics? That's the kind of world I want to help create.

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3 Comments on “Let That Zynq In”

  1. Very interesting information in order to know which Zynq board is more appropriate for us.

    Just a question: Why PYNQ board isn´t taking into account in this review?


    P.S. I love it too.

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