Programmable system-on-module takes Xilinx' Zynq to volume embedded appplications

May 30, 2013 // By Nick Flaherty
UK design house EnSilica has launched the first in a series of small form factor System-on-Modules based around the Xilinx Zynq programmable platform.

The eSi-ZM1 is EnSilica’s first product in a new range of eSi-Modules for faster, lower risk development of embedded systems that demand real-time hardware performance, all without sacrificing differentiation, integration or flexibility.
Combining a dual core ARM Cortex A9 MPcore subsystem running embedded Linux together with the Xilinx Series-7 FPGA fabric, it is aimed at developing a range of commercial and industrial applications for automotive electronics, consumer electronics, industrial automation, broadcast, medical imaging and wired communications. However, the small form factor, low-cost, high pin count, robust connector, together with availability in commercial and industrial temperature grades, makes it viable for both volume production and prototyping of a wide range of Xilinx Zynq-based products. The eSi-ZM1 measures 82 by 50mm and is currently being successfully deployed in a number of production products including a radar and media server.
“By encompassing the challenging part of an embedded system into a small module, we have dramatically simplified baseboard development both in terms of number of layers and layout complexity,” said Ian Lankshear, CEO of EnSilica. “The eSi-ZM1 module is flexible enough to be used across a range of applications and hardware designs with simple integration effort, reducing the overall hardware development effort and re-spin risk for customers.”
The eSi-ZM1 is unique in providing an exceptionally high I/O count through an MXM3.0 connector, delivering the full capability of the FPGA fabric without sacrificing signal integrity. It provides connectivity through a broad range of advanced I/O including a Gigabit Ethernet PHY with 1588 time stamping, a 4-port USB 2.0 hub, I2C and micro SD-card holder. Additionally, the programmable logic provides unlimited possibilities to add virtually any peripheral or create custom accelerators to extend system performance to suit the target application.
EnSilica provides full firmware and software support for the eSi-ZM1, including a compatible BSP and embedded Linux build pre-loaded on SD-card. Although the module is ready to use out-of-the-box, EnSilica provides a range of complementary