PYNQ supports the AXI central DMA IP with the PYNQ DMA class. DMA can be used for high performance burst transfers between PS DRAM and the PL.

The DMA class supports simple mode only.

Block Diagram

The DMA has an AXI lite control interface, and a read and write channel which consist of a AXI master port to access the memory location, and a stream port to connect to an IP.


The read channel will read from PS DRAM, and write to a stream. The write channel will read from a stream, and write back to PS DRAM.

Note that the DMA expects any streaming IP connected to the DMA (write channel) to set the AXI TLAST signal when the transaction is complete. If this is not set, the DMA will never complete the transaction. This is important when using HLS to generate the IP - the TLAST signal must be set in the C code.


This example assumes the overlay contains an AXI Direct Memory Access IP, with a read channel (from DRAM), and an AXI Master stream interface (for an output stream), and the other with a write channel (to DRAM), and an AXI Slave stream interface (for an input stream).

In the Python code, two contiguous memory buffers are created using allocate. The DMA will read the input_buffer and send the data to the AXI stream master. The DMA will write back to the output_buffer from the AXI stream slave.

The AXI streams are connected in loopback so that after sending and receiving data via the DMA the contents of the input buffer will have been transferred to the output buffer.

Note that when instantiating a DMA, the default maximum transaction size is 14-bits (i.e. 2^14 = 16KB). For larger DMA transactions, make sure to increase this value when configuring the DMA in your Vivado IPI design.

In the following example, let’s assume the example.bit contains a DMA IP block with both send and receive channels enabled.

import numpy as np
from pynq import allocate
from pynq import Overlay

overlay = Overlay('example.bit')
dma = overlay.axi_dma

input_buffer = allocate(shape=(5,), dtype=np.uint32)
output_buffer = allocate(shape=(5,), dtype=np.uint32)

Write some data to the array:

for i in range(5):
   input_buffer[i] = i
Input buffer will contain:  [0 1 2 3 4]

Transfer the input_buffer to the send DMA, and read back from the receive DMA to the output buffer. The wait() method ensures the DMA transactions have completed.

Output buffer will contain: [0 1 2 3 4]

More information about the DMA module can be found in the pynq.lib.dma Module sections