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Comparing HS2, HS3, XUP-USB, and programming modules for JTAG and Xilinix


jrothlander
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I need to purchase an HS3 programming cable for a Xilinx FPGA PCIe board (LiteFury). I see that there's an option for the XUP USB-JTAG Programming Cable and/or programming modules as well. I'm hoping someone can offer some guidance as to which one might be the best long-term option and which offers the best set of features.

I'm not concerned about the price difference, more intrested in what additional benefits I might have with the XUP cable or programming modules. Looking at the descriptions they all seem to fit my needs But I don't see why the XUP cable is nearly $100 more. Does that cable offer additional features that the HS3 and/or programming modules do not? 

What I don't want to do is get the HS3 now and a few months down the road realize I can't debug or don't have access to some other features I don't even know about today, then end up ordering the XUP cable or a programming model. I have way too many modules, programmers, and dev boards sitting around from old projects that I don't use anymore... but nothing that supports Xilinx. So I'm hoping to figure out the best option now and not have to order another down the road. 

Any guideance or suggestions are much appreciated. 

Best regards,

Jon

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Hi @jrothlander,

I believe the main difference between the XUP cable and the JTAG HS3 is in what boards are supported. The JTAG HS3 has it's list of supported target devices available on it's Reference Manual here: https://digilent.com/reference/programmers/jtag-hs3/reference-manual#supported_target_devices, which based on Xilinx's current FPGA/SoC offerings is fairly extensive (I'm a Digilent employee, so take that as you will).

Unfortunately, I do not know what the XUP USB-JTAG supports; my understanding is that we resell this product from Xilinx (I know Digilent did not develop nor manufactures this device), but I have not found any documentation regarding this particular product. As far as I know though, the programming capability with regards to the devices that both modules detect (as dictated by UG908 from Xilinx), the functionality is the same. I tried googling some differences, but wasn't really able to find anything in the Platform Cable USB II's favor (for instance, if you ever wanted to MATLAB FPGA-in-the-loop simulation, you would need to instead use one of Digilent's JTAG HS modules, as per this mathworks thread).

I took a look at the github page for the LiteFury and don't see anything in particular that would indicate that you would want the more expensive programmer, though maybe the contact at the bottom of the readme could give you some more insight with their board.

For what it's worth, a number of Xilinx made development boards use Digilent's JTAG modules (in the SMT form factor variant) rather than bundling their own cable programmers with the board, so take that as you will.

Otherwise, if you are wanting to be as forward thinking as possible, Xilinx has a SmartLynq Data Cable, https://www.xilinx.com/products/boards-and-kits/smartlynq-data-cable.html, that offers some higher JTAG throughput, an Ethernet port for remote access, and some more debugging features (they list support for Linux and Hypervisor aware dubugging as an example). Whether that is worth it to you, I don't know. Here's a link that discusses the remote programming options some more: https://www.mylium.eu/fpga-programmer/.

Let me know if you have any questions.

Thanks,
JColvin

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@jcolvin,

I think you ran into much of what I ran into. I did find on Reddit a discussion about using the HS3 cable for LiteFury board and it is recommended an supported. So it sounds like the Digilent HS3 cable is the way to go and ultimately seems to have same or the better features than the XUP cable at $150 (or $99 academic). I'm still learning, so the Xilinix smart-lynq is overkill for for now. The HS3 seems to be best fit, and nice that is also the least expensive.

Thanks for taking the time to look into this for me. Much appreciated. 

Jon

 

Edited by jrothlander
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  • 2 weeks later...

Just wanted to post a final reply here for anyone else that encounters this. I did end up ordering the HS3 cable and it works fine. It hooked up to the connector that came with the LiteFury and I ran the USB cable out through one of the card ports on the back of the case and plugged it into a USB plugs, and it works fine. I am able to program the LiteFury... I think. I don't know enough yet to prove it is working, but Vivado recognizes it (autoconnect finds it) and I am able to program the device without any errors. Now on to learning PCIe. 

Edited by jrothlander
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