Partial Reconfiguration

From image v2.4, PYNQ supports partial bitstream reconfiguration. The partial bitstreams are managed by the overlay class. It is always recommended to use the .hwh file along with the .bit for the overlay class.

Preparing the Files

There are many ways to prepare the bitstreams. Users can choose to follow the project flow or the software flow to implement a partial reconfiguration Vivado project. For more information, please refer to the documentation page on partial reconfiguration.

After each reconfiguration, the PL status will update to reflect the changes on the bitstream, so that new drivers can be assigned to the new blocks available in the bitstream. To achieve this, users have to provide the metadata file (.hwh file) along with each full / partial bitstream. The .hwh file is typically located at: <project_name>/<design_name>.srcs/sources_1/bd/<design_name>/hw_handoff/.

Keep in mind that each partial bitstream need a .hwh file.

Loading Full Bitstream

It is straightforward to download a full bitstream. By default, the bitstream will be automatically downloaded onto the PL when users instantiate an overlay object.

from pynq import Overlay
overlay = Overlay("full_bistream.bit')

To download the full bitstream again:

Note that no argument is provided if a full bitstream is to be downloaded.

Another thing to note, is that if the Vivado project is configured as a partial reconfiguration project, the .hwh file for the full bitstream will not contain any information inside a partial region, even if the full bitstream always has a default Reconfiguration Module (RM) implemented. Instead, the .hwh file only provides the information on the interfaces connecting to the partial region. So for the full bitstream, don’t be surprised if you see an empty partial region in the .hwh file. The complete information on the partial regions are revealed by the .hwh files of the partial bitstreams, where each .hwh file reveals one possible internal organization of the partial region.

Loading Partial Bitstream

Typically, the partial regions are hierarchies in the block design of the bitstream. In an overlay object, the hierarchical blocks are exposed as attributes of the object; users have to set the partial region for the overlay before they can reconfigure it. In the following example, let’s assume there is a hierarchical block called block_0 in the design.


After the partial region is set, users can use the download() method for partial bitstreams. Note that an argument is now needed if a partial bitstream is to be downloaded.'rm_0_partial.bit')

To load a different RM:'rm_1_partial.bit')