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Customize BeagleV-Fire Cape Gateware Using Verilog#

This document describes how to customize gateware attached to BeagleV-Fire’s cape interface using Verilog as primary language. The methodolgy described can also be applied when using other HDL languages.

It will describe:

  • How to generate programming bitstreams without requiring the installation of the Libero FPGA toolchain on your development machine.

  • How to use the cape Verilog template

  • How to use the git.beagleboard.org CI infrastruture to generate programming bitstreams for your custom gateware


  1. Fork BeagleV-Fire gateware repository on git.beagleboard.org

  2. Create a custom gateware build option

  3. Rename a copy of the cape gateware Verilog template

  4. Customize the cape’s Verilog source code

  5. Commit and push changes to your forked repository

  6. Retrieve the forked repositories artifacts

  7. Program BeagleV-Fire with your custom bitstream

Fork BeagleV-Fire Gateware Repository#


All new users need to be manually approved to protect from BOT spam. You will not be able to fork the Gateware Repository until you have been approved. A request to ‘the forum <https://forum.beagleboard.org/t/requesting-access-to-gitlab-to-fork-gateware/37494>’ may expedite the process.

Navigate to BeagleV-Fire’s gateware source code repository.

Click on the Forks button on the top-right corner.

BeagleV-Fire gateware repo fork button

Fig. 338 BeagleV-Fire gateware repo fork button#

On the Fork Project page, select your namespace and adjust the project name to help you manage multiple custom gateware (e.g. my-lovely-gateware). Click the Fork project button.

Create gateware fork

Fig. 339 Create gateware fork#

Clone the forked repository#

git clone git@git.beagleboard.org:<MY-NAMESPACE>/my-lovely-gateware.git

Where <MY-NAMESPACE> is your Gitlab username or namespace.

Create A Custom Gateware Build Option#

BeagleV-Fire’s gateware build system uses “build configuration” YAML files to describe the combination of gateware components options that will be used to build the gateware programming bitstream. You need to create one such file to describe to the gateware build system that you want your own custom gateware to be built. You need to have one such file describing your gateware in directory custom-fpga-design.

Let’s modify the ./custom-fpga-design/my_custom_fpga_design.yaml build configuration file to specify that your custom cape gateware should be included in the gateware bitstream. In this instance will call our custom cape gateware MY_LOVELY_CAPE.

    type: git
    link: https://git.beagleboard.org/beaglev-fire/hart-software-services.git
    branch: develop-beaglev-fire
    board: bvf
    type: sources
    unique-design-version: 9.0.2

① On the gateware build-args line, replace VERILOG_TUTORIAL with MY_LOVELY_CAPE.


The custom-fpga-design directory has a special meaning for the Beagleboard Gitlab CI system. Any build configuration found in this directory will be built by the CI system. This allows generating FPGA programming bitstreams without the requirement for having the Microchip FPGA toolchain installed on your computer.

Rename A Copy Of The Cape Gateware Verilog Template#

Move to the cape gateware source code#

cd my-lovely-gateware/sources/FPGA-design/script_support/components/CAPE

Create a directory that will contain your custom cape gateware source code#


Copy the cape Verilog template#


Customize The Cape’s Verilog Source Code#

Move to your custom gateware source directory#


You will need to first edit the ADD_CAPE.tcl TCL script to use your source code within your custom gateware directory and not the Verilog template source code. In this example this means using source code within the MY_LOVELY_CAPE directory rather the VERILOG_TEMPLATE directory.

Edit ADD_CAPE.tcl#


# Import HDL source files
import_files -hdl_source {script_support/components/CAPE/MY_LOVELY_CAPE/HDL/apb_ctrl_status.v}
import_files -hdl_source {script_support/components/CAPE/MY_LOVELY_CAPE/HDL/P8_IOPADS.v}
import_files -hdl_source {script_support/components/CAPE/MY_LOVELY_CAPE/HDL/P9_11_18_IOPADS.v}
import_files -hdl_source {script_support/components/CAPE/MY_LOVELY_CAPE/HDL/P9_21_31_IOPADS.v}
import_files -hdl_source {script_support/components/CAPE/MY_LOVELY_CAPE/HDL/P9_41_42_IOPADS.v}
import_files -hdl_source {script_support/components/CAPE/MY_LOVELY_CAPE/HDL/CAPE.v}

Add the path to your additional Verilog source code files.

# Import HDL source files
import_files -hdl_source {script_support/components/CAPE/MY_LOVELY_CAPE/HDL/blinky.v} // import_files -hdl_source {script_support/components/CAPE/MY_LOVELY_CAPE/HDL/apb_ctrl_status.v}
import_files -hdl_source {script_support/components/CAPE/MY_LOVELY_CAPE/HDL/P8_IOPADS.v}
import_files -hdl_source {script_support/components/CAPE/MY_LOVELY_CAPE/HDL/P9_11_18_IOPADS.v}
import_files -hdl_source {script_support/components/CAPE/MY_LOVELY_CAPE/HDL/P9_21_31_IOPADS.v}
import_files -hdl_source {script_support/components/CAPE/MY_LOVELY_CAPE/HDL/P9_41_42_IOPADS.v}
import_files -hdl_source {script_support/components/CAPE/MY_LOVELY_CAPE/HDL/CAPE.v}

① In our case we will be adding a new Verilog source file called blinky.v.

You will only need to revisit the content of ADD_CAPE.tcl if you want to add more Verilog source files or want to modify how the cape interfaces with the rest of the gateware (RISC-V processor subsystem, clock and reset blocks).

Customize The Cape’s Verilog source code#

We will add a simple Verilog source file, blinky.v, in the MY_LOVELY_CAPE directory. Code below:

`timescale 1ns/100ps
module blinky(
input    clk,
input    resetn,
output   blink

reg [22:0] counter;

assign blink = counter[22];

always@(posedge clk or negedge resetn)
            counter <= 16'h0000;
            counter <= counter + 1;

Let’s connect the blinky Verilog module within the cape by editing the CAPE.v file.

Add the instantiation of the blinky module:

P9_41_42_IOPADS P9_41_42_IOPADS_0(
        // Inputs
        .GPIO_OE  ( GPIO_OE_const_net_3 ),
        .GPIO_OUT ( GPIO_OUT_const_net_3 ),
        // Outputs
        .GPIO_IN  (  ),
        // Inouts
        .P9_41    ( P9_41 ),
        .P9_42    ( P9_42 )

blinky blinky_0(                // ①
        .clk     ( PCLK ),      // ②
        .resetn  ( PRESETN ),   // ③
        .blink   ( BLINK )      // ④


① Create a blinky module instance called blinky_0.

② Connect the clock using the existing PCLK wire.

③ Connect the reset using the exisitng PRESETS wire.

④ Connect the blinky’s blink output using the BLINK wire. This BLINK wire needs to be declared.

Add the BLINK wire:

wire           PCLK;
wire           PRESETN;
wire           BLINK;                   // ①
wire   [31:0]  APB_SLAVE_PRDATA_net_0;
wire   [27:0]  GPIO_IN_net_1;

① Create a wire called BLINK.

The BLINK wire will be used to connect the blinky module’s output to a top level output connected to an LED. Do you see where this is going?

Now for the complicated part. We are going to change the wiring of the bi-directional buffers controlling the cape I/Os including the user LEDs.

The original code populates two 43 bits wide wires for controlling the output-enable and output values of the P8 cape connector I/Os. The bottom 28 bits being controlled by the microprocessor subsystem’s GPIO block.

// Concatenation assignments
assign GPIO_OE_net_0  = { 16'h0000 , GPIO_OE };
assign GPIO_OUT_net_0 = { 16'h0000 , GPIO_OUT };

We are going to hijack the 6th I/O with our blinky’s output:

// Concatenation assignments
assign GPIO_OE_net_0 = { 16'h0000, GPIO_OE[27:6], 1'b1, GPIO_OE[4:0] };         // ①
assign GPIO_OUT_net_0 = { 16'h0000 , GPIO_OUT[27:6], BLINK, GPIO_OUT[4:0] };    // ②

① Tie high the output-enable of the 6th bit to constantly enable that output.

② Control the 6th output from the blink module through the WIRE wire.

Edit The Cape’s Device Tree Overlay#

You should always have a device tree overlay associated with your gateware even if there is limited control from Linux. The device tree overlay is very useful to identify which gateware is currently programmed on your BeagleV-Fire.


&{/chosen} {
    overlays {


This change will result in MY-LOVELY-CAPE-GATEWARE being visible in /proc/device-tree/chosen/overlays at run-time, allowing to check that my lovely gateware is successfully programmed on BeagleV-Fire.

Commit And Push Changes To Your Forked Repository#

Move back up to the root directory of your gateware project. This is the my-lovely-gateware directory in our current example.

Add the my-lovely-gateware/sources/FPGA-design/script_support/components/CAPE/MY_LOVELY_CAPE directory content to your git repository.

git add sources/FPGA-design/script_support/components/CAPE/MY_LOVELY_CAPE/

Commit changes to my-lovely-gateware/custom-fpga-design/my_custom_fpga_design.yaml

git commit -m "Add my lovely gateware."

Push changes to your beagleboard Gitlab repository:

git push

Retrieve The Forked Repositories Artifacts#

Navigate to your forked repository. Click Pipelines in the left pane then the Download Artifacts button on the right handside. Select build-job:archive. This will result in an artifacts.zip file being downloaded.

gateware pipeline

Fig. 340 gateware pipeline#

Program BeagleV-Fire With Your Custom Bitstream#

Unzip the downloaded artifacts.zip file. Go to the gateware-builds-tester/artifacts/bitstreams directory:

cd gateware-builds-tester/artifacts/bitstreams

On your Linux host development computer, use the scp command to copy the bitstream to BeagleV-Fire home directory, replacing <IP_ADDRESS> with the IP address of your BeagleV-Fire.

scp -r  ./my_custom_fpga_design beagle@<IP_ADDRESS>:/home/beagle/

On BeagleV-Fire, initiate the reprogramming of the FPGA with your gateware bitstream:

sudo /usr/share/beagleboard/gateware/changes-gateware.sh ./my_custom_fpga_design

Wait for a couple of minutes for the BeagleV-Fire to reprogram itself.

You will see the 6th user LED flash once the board is reprogrammed. That’s the Verilog you added blinking the LED.

On BeagleV-Fire, You can check that your gateware was loaded using the following command to see the device tree overlays:

tree /proc/device-tree/chosen/overlays/
gateware lovely overlay

Fig. 341 gateware lovely overlay#