⇡ A guide to the development environment

Install Xilinx Vivado

Download and install Xilinx Vivado

The Xilinx Vivado design suite can be downloaded from http://www.xilinx.com/support/download.html free of charge for registered users (registration is also free). For Ubuntu Linux, we recommend Vivado 2015.4. During the installation process, when asked for “Select Edition to Install”, please choose “Vivado Design Edition”. When choosing which packages to install, please add “Software Development Kit”. It is not required to install Xilinx Vivado in system directories, so choose any installation directory preferred. The installation requires around 21 GB of disk space.


A license is required to use the Xilinx Vivado suite. For users who bought an FPGA development kit, such as the KC705 kit, a voucher may be enclosed. This voucher will allow the user to generate a site and device locked license (version limited as well). Such a license will allow a user to implement designs targeting the sepecific FPGA used in the development kit, such as Kintex-7 FPGAs for the KC705 kit. This license is a version limited one. Users are allowed to install and update the Xilinx Vivado suite for one year. Once the license is expired, the old Xilinx Vivado is still usable but not updateable.

For users of low-end boards, such as the NEXYS4-DDR, you can apply a free WebPACK license which allows implementations targeting certain Artix-7, Kintex-7 and Zynq-7000 FPGAs [vivado-webpack].

To generate a license using a voucher or a WebPACK license, login to Xilinx and visit http://www.xilinx.com/getlicense.

Environment settings

Here is an example script for setting up the Xilinx Vivado suite.

# source the prepared script, assume Xilinx is installed to
# /local/tool/Xilinx
source /local/tool/Xilinx/Vivado/2015.4/settings64.sh
# exporting XILINX_VIVADO is required for FPGA simulation
# setup the license

Note to export the XILINX_VIVADO variable which is required by FPGA simulation.

USB-JTAG installation

The default JTAG and configuration method for both the KC705 and the NEXYS4-DDR kits is the UART-JTAG cable. A driver is needed for Vivado to utilize this cable. We recommend to use the driver packages provided by Digilent: https://www.digilentinc.com/Products/Detail.cfm?Prod=ADEPT2. For 64-bit Ubuntu, please download and install the following two deb packages:

  • Adept 2.16.1 Runtime, X64 DEB
  • Adept 2.2.1 Utilities, X64 DEB

USB-UART installation

The KC705 has a Silicon Labs CP2103GM USB-to-UART bridge. To utilize this bridge, please download the driver from http://www.silabs.com/Support%20Documents/Software/Linux_3.x.x_VCP_Driver_Source.zip.
Follow the instructions in the “CP210x_VCP_Linux_3.13.x_Release_Notes.txt” enclosed in the driver package.

The FTDI USB-UART bridge chip used on NEXYS4-DDR is supported in Ubuntu 14.04 and does not require extra driver installation.

The USB-UART bridge is normally shown in Ubuntu as /dev/ttyUSB0 ~ /dev/ttyUSB3. Microcom, CuteCom or Screen can be used to connect to this console.

microcom -p /dev/ttyUSB0 -s 115200

By default, users are not allowed to connect to /dev/ttyUSB0 due to the lack of permission. The easiest way of resolving this issue is to add yourself to the dialout group.

sudo adduser <username> dialout
  Install Verilator