The Xilinx Zynq Processor – A New Toy

One of my previous positions (Signetics/Philips Semiconductors) was as a Design Engineer working on a family of 8051 micro-controllers derivative. The 8051 architecture, originally conceived and developed by Intel Corporation back in the 1970/1980’s was licensed to Signetics/Philips. As part of my work on the 8051 family (ROM, EPROM,  and FLASH) derivatives, I was involved in understanding the PLA (Programmable Logic Array, or, hard-wired firmware of the 8051. At that time, HDL, VHDL, Verilog, and FPGAs did not exist.  As an aside, Signetics was also developing a family of programmable logic known as  PLDs (Programmable Logic Devices) co-developed in Silicon Valley and Orem, Utah.  It was the PLD family that was the precursor to the Philips “Cool Runner” devices, later sold to Xilinx.

OK, so back to FPGA’s and the Zynq. I’ve started experimenting with the Xilinx  Arm 9. I’m not sure I can afford a license to use the Xilinx’s Vivado software design tool suite with the DSP engine, and, if not, I may re-focus my amateur radio efforts on a non-FPGA micro-controller  such as the ARM CORTEX M4 due to it’s built in floating point processor. So, in the end the Zynq may end up being an education for later projects.  My next post on the Zynq will focus on the low-cost development boards design by Avnet found at Specifically, the MicroZed and the MiniZed. The MicroZed comes in single or dual A9 processor core with the Xilinx programmable logic “fabric”.