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OscillatorIMP ecosystem for the digital characterization of ultrastable oscillators
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OscillatorIMP ecosystem for the digital characterization of ultrastable oscillators


This ecosystem aims to provide a consistent software/hardware, chip independent (Xilinx Zynq, Altera/Intel Cyclone V soc, ...) solution, to assemble and build designs targeted for FPGA and to generate and cross-compile software, running on the CPU running embedded GNU/Linux, dedicated to communicate/configure logic parts.


This repository is composed of multiple associated submodules (see sub-READMEs to see each repository goal).


To download this repository and submodules in one command, you need to use

git clone --recursive


git clone
cd oscimpDigital
git submodule init
git submodule update

to 1/ clone oscimpDigital and 2/ add submodule contents.


To update repositories you need to use

git pull
git submodule update

Software environnement

Current Vivado version: 2018.2

Software parts (applications, library and drivers), based on a set of Makefile, uses buildroot to cross-compiles code.

Thus, you need to download, build and flash your board with a buildroot version configured to your target hardware.

For the specific case of the Redpitaya board, not officially supported by buildroot, see red_readme


The OscillatorIMP ecosystem uses shell environment variables to locate each repository (lib, fpga_ip, linux_driver and app) to allow In or Out Tree access. In addition to these variables, two other variables are mandatory to know the target board and the buildroot root absolute path for cross-compilation.

A sample script ( is proposed as reference to provide a complete variable set. You must copy this file and adapt its content to your specific case, mainly filling the fields:

  • BOARD_NAME: with the name of your board (redpitaya, zc706, ...). This variable will be used to determine subdirectories of nfs root (see app README for more details on this subject)
  • BR_DIR: with the absolute path of your buildroot. this information is mandatory to have access to the cross-compiler, linux tree and some other applications.
  • OSCIMP_DIGITAL_NFS (optional): when you use make install for a Linux driver or an application, files are copied to a sub-directory of $OSCIMP_DIGITAL_NFS/$BOARD_NAME. By default OSCIMP_DIGITAL_NFS=/nfs. Change this variable if you want to install files in other location.

Once this file has been filled, the command:

source /somewhere/

will add these variables to the current environment.

Warning: the previous command will add variables only to the current terminal. To make this setting permanent, the script sourcing must be added in the user's ~/.bashrc.

How it compares with existing solutions ?

Various FPGA design frameworks have been available. Here we list the reasons for pursuing this particular approach of close FPGA/Linux module/GNULinux userspace codesign with respect to other approaches:

  • the proprietary approach: of course Xilinx (Vivado) & Altera/Intel (Quartus) provide ready made blackbox solutions to FPGA programming. If you want a vendor-locked solution, these are probably the best alternatives. We want to invest in vendor independent solution that will allow to deploy the framework on any field programmable gate arrays, whether from current (Xilinx/Altera-Intel/Lattice-Microsemi) or future vendors
  • Ettus Research has developed RFNOC, an excellent tool for their board but hardly portable to any other platform. A fixed bitstream allows routing packets amongst a fixed set of IPs, as opposed to the proposed approach of a close co-design between the IPs needed for a given design and the associated Linux tools (kernel space and userspace) generated for each new design.
  • HLS (High-level Language Synthesis): at the moment most HLS designs require FIFOs and are not compatible with high throughput streaming data processing, as considered in the radiofrequency data processing for software defined radio
  • Migen/Mikymist/ARTIQ (M-Lab)
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