Overlay Design MethodologyΒΆ

PYNQ Overlays are analogous to software libraries. A programmer can download overlays into the AMD-Xilinx Programmable Logic at runtime to provide functionality required by the software application.

An overlay is a class of Programmable Logic design. Programmable Logic designs are usually highly optimized for a specific task. Overlays however, are designed to be configurable, and reusable for broad set of applications. A PYNQ overlay will have a Python interface, allowing a software programmer to use it like any other Python package.

There are a number of components required in the process of creating an overlay:

  • Board or platform settings
  • Interfaces between host processor and programmable logic
  • MicroBlaze Soft Processors
  • Python/C Integration
  • Python AsyncIO
  • Python Overlay API
  • Python Packaging

While they are conceptually similar, there are differences in the process for building Overlays for different platforms. i.e. Zynq vs. Zynq Ultrascale+ vs. Kria SoM vs. Alveo platforms. Most of the differences relate to the configuration of the Zynq/Zynq Ultrascale+ PS, and the interfaces between the host processor and the programmable logic. E.g. AXI interfaces for ARM & Zynq/Zynq Ultrascale+/Kria SoM, and PCIe for x86|IBM|ARM|etc. for Alveo. Most of the differences will be related to the hardware (Programmable logic) design.

This section will give an overview of the process of creating an overlay and integrating it into PYNQ, but will not cover the hardware design process in detail. Hardware design will be familiar to Zynq, and FPGA hardware developers.