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FPGA reference design for the the Swerv EH1 Core
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FPGA Reference Design for the SweRV RISC-V CoreTM from Western Digital

This repository contains design files for implementing a SwervTM-based processor complex in a commercially available FPGA board, the Nexus4 DDR from Digilent Inc. The repository also contains example software and support files for loading the software into the design, and debugging the software.


By contributing to this project, you agree that your contribution is governed by the Apache-2.0 license.
Files under the common software directory may be available under a different license. Please review each individual file for details.

Directory Structure

├── hardware                # Hardware directory  
│   ├── constraints         #  FPGA constraints files  
│   ├── design_top          #  Reference design top   
│   ├── peripherals         #  AXI peripherals, clock and reset modules  
│   ├── project             #  Vivado tcl project script  
│   └── swerv_eh1           #  Swerv_eh1 core  
├── LICENSE                                   
└── software                # Sofware directory              
    ├── apps                #  Example applications, Makefiles       
    ├── bsp                 #  Board support package    
    └── common              #  Common headers and printf utility   

How to build swerv_eh1 based reference design and run applications on Nexys4 DDR board?

This readme assumes the user is building the swerv reference design from a Linux development machine.


  1. Xilinx Vivado 2018.2 toolchain

  2. Nexys4 DDR board

  3. Digilent Board Files
    Note: this document also gives advice on properly installing vivado. If you have already vivado installed, you can just skip to section 3)

  4. riscv toolchain installation for 32 bit riscv Installation instructions are available from the RISC-V consortium: Please note that for Swerv we need to specify the architecture as rv32imc. So the correct configuration command for building the cross-compiler is:
    $ ./configure --prefix=/opt/riscv --with-arch=rv32imc
    $ make linux

  5. riscv openocd installation, for programming and debugging the core. This is available on github Note: The RISC-V consortium gnu-compiler-toolchain package also has a copy of openocd. Make sure your path is set correctly to point to THIS version from riscv-openocd

  6. Jtag probe (e.g., Olimex)


  1. Set the SWERV_EH1_FPGA_PATH environment variable to repository path.

     $ cd /path/to/swerv_eh1_fpga 
     $ export SWERV_EH1_FPGA_PATH=`pwd`
  2. Copy swerv_eh1 folder to the hardware directory (path:${SWERV_EH1_FPGA_PATH}/hardware) and set RV_ROOT to point swerv_eh1 folder:
    $ export RV_ROOT=$SWERV_EH1_FPGA_PATH/hardware/swerv_eh1

  3. Configure swerv_eh1 core for the Nexys4 DDR board. We use default settings with reset_vec=0x0.
    Go to configs folder (path: $RV_ROOT/configs) and run the swerv.config script as below:
    $ ./swerv.config -set reset_vec=0x0

  4. Create FPGA project using the vivado tcl project script file nexys4ddr_refprj.tcl inside project/script folder.

     $ cd $SWERV_EH1_FPGA_PATH/hardware/project/script
     $ vivado -source nexys4ddr_refprj.tcl

    Vivado will open and start building your project files. (Note: this assumes that your path is correctly setup to launch vivado 2018.2 by default. You may need to supply an absolute path to lauch the correct vivado version). The GUI will stay open to in the new project environment.

  5. Now that you have the project directory, you synthesize and implement your design to obtain the FPGA .bit file, using the same flow you would use for any other Xilinx design: Menu >> Flow >> Run Implementation

  6. Now we are ready to program the Nexys4 DDR board. Connect the board to the host using micro usb cable to download the bit file and UART printfs.

  7. Connect the Olimex GDB connector with the Nexys4 DDR board to download and debug software applcations.

  8. Now, switch on the board and download the bit file using the Vivado Hardware Manager.

    Congratulations! You now have Swerv running on your FPGA!

  9. Next, we need to an application to run on this system. Go to software/apps folder and build the application using make command. We provide a makefile to generate the executable (e.g., hello.elf).
    There are two applications:

    1. hello: print Hello world from SweRV on FPGA!
    2. sum: compute sum of the numbers from 3 to 9.

    NOTE: The bsp folder has the startup file, linker loader and openocd script.
    NOTE: The common folder has printf, uart device functions and memory map information.

  10. Once we generate an application executable, we need to configure openocd+GDB and UART device.
    a. OpenOCD+GDB
    1. Run openocd: swerv_openocd.cfg file inside bsp folder
    $ sudo openocd -f swerv_openocd.cfg (sudo may be required to access the Olimex device directly)
    2. Use another terminal and run GDB. Then connect to openocd, load and debug.

        $riscv32-unknown-elf-gdb hello.elf < 
    	(gdb) target remote localhost:3333
    	(gdb) load

    b. UART: we can see the uart ouput using minicom
    To do this we need to determine which serial port is currently associated with the Nexus board, which can be checked using dmesg. e.g.,

       $ dmesg | grep ttyUSB
        [19023.576527] usb 3-6: FTDI USB Serial Device converter now attached to ttyUSB2

    Assuming there is only one USB serial device, this means we want to use /dev/ttyUSB2:

       $ sudo minicom -D /dev/ttyUSB2
  11. If everything works fine, you can see a beautiful message on the UART terminal:

    Hello world from SweRV on FPGA!

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