ZynqBerry's New Little Cousin: ZynqBerryZero

The Raspberry Pi form factor FPGA, the Zynqberry, just got a little cousin with the announcement of the ZynqBerryZero!

Late last week, Trenz Electronic announced a new FPGA development board in its series of Raspberry Pi form factor boards. The ZynqBerryZero takes after its older cousin the ZynqBerry with its Raspberry Pi inspiration, but this time it's an FPGA alternative to the Raspberry Pi Zero.

The ZynqBerryZero mirrors the Raspberry Pi Zero with 512 MByte DDR3L SDRAM, 40 pin HAT header, 26 total GPIO, two micro USB ports, mini HDMI connector (type C), CSI-2 connector (camera), and micro SD card slot. However, it packs its processing power punch with the Xilinx Zynq-7000 system on a chip FPGA with 16 MByte flash memory available for programming.

This Zynq-7000 FPGA hosts a dual Arm Cortex-A9 MPCore with CoreSight at a speed of 667MHz that is physically instantiated in the middle of the programmable logic of the FPGA, thus making it a full system on a chip (SoC). This is in contrast to the Pi Zero's single-core 1GHz Arm BCM2835. The extra flexibility of the programmable logic surrounding the Arm processor in the Zynq chip makes the design options for the ZynqBerryZero almost infinite.

The ZynqBerryZero is currently available at a price point of $129.09 USD ($149.74 with shipping cost) and ready to ship within 1 - 3 business days. While this might make the ZynqBerryZero the investment piece in a project, the gained flexibility and power of the FPGA's capabilities in such a tight, well-designed layout more than returns to a user what they paid for. Especially given the power input requirements of the ZynqBerryZero. It can be powered from one of its micro USB ports instead of requiring an external power supply such as a wall adapter as many other FPGA development boards need. This really keeps the ZynqBerryZero's physical footprint down and makes it a great option for a lot of portable projects.

This addition to the Raspberry Pi inspired FPGA lineup is exciting also because the shared form factor and pinout means a vast majority of Raspberry Pi peripherals can be adapted and used with it. For example the many Pi HATs manufactured by companies like Adafruit can be utilized on the ZynqBerryZero with the proper embedded Linux image generated using PetaLinux as proven in one of my past projects where I installed CircuitPython on my ZynqBerry to use Adafruit's PiOLED with it. Then a few more tweaks allowed for me to use my RFM69 radio Pi HAT with the ZynqBerry.

These projects would be fairly simple to adapt to the ZynqBerryZero, both from the perspective of tweaking the embedded Linux image creation in PetaLinux and the modifications to the Raspberry Pi CircuitPython libraries. They also demonstrate how with a little bit of engineering, the ZynqBerryZero can step in and become interchangeable with a Raspberry Pi Zero to inject extra power and flexibility into a project.

While there currently isn't a reference design available for the ZynqBerryZero, one can easily work out the pinout based upon the XDC generator files and schematics available then adapt some of the reference designs available for the ZynqBerry.

Whitney Knitter
Working as a full-time SDR/FPGA engineer, but making time for the fun projects at home.
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