ZYNQ SSE for Network-Attached Storage for the Avnet Mini-ITX

This Technical Brief shows how to setup the Zynq SSE to demonstrate NAS functionality. After going through the steps described herein, you will have a working Linux System running on theZynq with an attached SATA HDD or SSD, making files stored on the attached disk available to other networked clients.

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For the evaluation of Zynq SSE MLE supports two separate hardware platforms: The Avnet Zynq Mini-ITX board, and the Xilinx ZC706 Development Kit plus the XM104 Adapter Board. This document is for the Avnet Zynq Mini-ITX board.

Network-Attached Storage (NAS) is a file-level data storage connected to a computer network, typically via Ethernet transporting TCP/IP and/or UDP communication.

MLE’s Zynq SATA Storage Extension (Zynq SSE) is a fully integrated and pre-validated system stack comprising 3rd-party SATA Host Controller and DMA IP cores from ASICS World Services, a storage micro-architecture from MLE, Xilinx PetaLinux, and an Open Source SATA Host Controller Linux kernel driver, also from MLE. Zynq SSE utilizes the Xilinx GTX Multi Gigabit Transceivers to deliver SATA I (1.5 Gbps), SATA II (3.0 Gbps), or SATA III (6 Gbps) connectivity. When combined with Zynq’s networking capabilities this effectively leads to a demonstration of Networked Storage, or NAS.

This Technical Brief shows how to setup the Zynq SSE to demonstrate NAS functionality. After going through the steps described herein, you will have a working Linux System running on the Zynq with an attached SATA HDD or SSD, making files stored on the attached disk available to other networked clients.

Block Diagram

The block diagram shown below gives an overview over the Zynq SSE reference design: Within the Zynq Programmable Logic (PL) the MLE storage micro-architecture instantiates the DMA and the SATA Host Controller IP blocks. The storage micro-architecture itself interfaces with the Zynq Processing System (PS) via the high-performance AXI HP0 slave port. The ARM A9 in the PS runs Xilinx PetaLinux and the SATA Linux kernel driver.


Implementation Details
Design TypePS + PL
SW TypeLinux (Petalinux)
CPUs2 CPUs 700 MHz
Boards/ToolsAvnet Mini ITX Z100
Xilinx Tools VersionVivado 2014.1, PETALINUX 2013-2
Other DetailsSamsung 840 SSD(including Cable and Power Supply), SD-Card
Address Map
Base AddressSizeInterface
SATA IP0x410000004KS AXI
DMA IP0x410100004KS AXI, M AXI
Files Provided
BOOT.binCompilation of Bitstream, FSBL and U-Boot
Image.ubLinux Ramdisk Image

Step by Step Instructions

Hardware needed

Software Assembly

  1. Format the SD Card using FAT32 File system
  2. Put image.ub and BOOT.bin into the root directory of the SD Card

Hardware Assembly

  1. Insert the SD Card into the Avnet Mini ITX board’s SD Slot
  2. Connect the micro USB cable to the UART port of the Avnet Mini ITX board and the USB Port of your PC
  3. Connect the Ethernet port of the host pc to the ethernet port of the Avnet Mini ITX
  4. Connect the SSD to the SATA connector on the Avnet Mini ITX board using the SATA Cable
  5. Connect the SSD to power
  6. Switch the Avnet Mini ITX board’s SW7 to SD Boot mode (as shown in picture)
  7. Connect the Avnet Mini ITX board to the Power Supply

The system should now look like in the supplied image


  1. Switch on the Avnet Mini ITX board
  2. On the PC open a Serial Terminal on the new serial port using the settings 115200 Baud 8N1
  3. Observe the Linux System booting
  4. After some time you should see a screen similar to the screenshot in the Expected Results
  5. Login using
    • Login:root
    • Password: root
  6. Configure the Ethernet port on the host PC to have an IP address of and a subnet mask of
  7. The ZYNQ-board has an pre-supplied IP of
  8. Now connect to the ZYNQ-board using an FTP program and start transferring data to it

LED Description

Status LEDs can be found next to the PCIe connector. The associated meanings can be seen in the following table and in the image below.

D7 Timeout LED, indicates the Timeout of the IP core
D6 Gen3 Link, indicates 6 GBit/s connection
D5 GEN2 Link, indicate 3 GBit/s connection
D4 Linkup and Activity, LED will light up on Linkup and will go dark during data transfers

Expected Results

As a result you should be having a running Linux system on the Zynq board. The UART Console output should be similar to the screenshot below.

Also you will have file-system access to the attached SSD using FTP, and by this evaluate and test the Zynq Sata Storage extension.

The Evaluation Reference Design (ERD) of the Zynq SSE comprises a hardware license management which allows to run full SATA functionality for up to 12 hours after power-up. After approximately 12 hours the evaluation expires, which is indicated by illuminating the LED ’timeout’. You will also notice that the Linux kernel driver informs you of having lost the SATA link to the SSD/HDD.

Team MLE has spent significant efforts to try and test all aspects of Zynq SSE. If you feel that you encounter something not right, or if you do have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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MLE (Missing Link Electronics) is offering technologies and solutions for Domain-Specific Architectures, which focus on heterogeneous computing using FPGAs. MLE is headquartered in Silicon Valley with offices in Neu-Ulm and Berlin, Germany.

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