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Arm Cortex‑M1 DesignStart FPGA-Xilinx edition User Guide : Loading the pre-built bitstream

Loading the pre-built bitstream

The design is provided with a prebuilt bit file in V:/hardware/m1_for_arty_a7/m1_for_arty_a7/m1_for_arty_a7_reference.bit. This bit file allows you to program the Arty Artix 7 (A7) board with the example design, which can be used to demonstrate correct connection, programming, and operation of the Arty A7 board. This file loads the volatile memory in FPGA RAM. Therefore, the FPGA programming is only valid while the board is powered on. Additionally, if Prog is pressed, then the flash program image is loaded into the FPGA, overwriting any existing FPGA image.


If you have not programmed the flash, then the Digilent example design is the image in the flash, and this is loaded into the FPGA. In this instance, the board is not running a Cortex®‑M processor.

In these instructions, V: is used to refer to the package install directory. The bitstream includes a software image that is preloaded into Instruction Tightly Coupled Memory (ITCM).

To load the pre-built bitstream:


  1. Open Vivado.
  2. On the splash screen, from Flow → Hardware manager, select V:/hardware/m1_for_arty_a7/m1_for_arty_a7/m1_for_arty_a7.xpr.
  3. Connect the Arty board using the micro-USB connection, not the V2C-DAPLink connector.
  4. Connect a terminal application (for example, TeraTerm) to the USB UART port. This is automatically created when Arty A7 board is connected.
  5. Set the terminal to: Baud rate 115,200 8 bits One stop No parity .
  6. Open the hardware manager, and select Open Target.
  7. Right click on the Digilent A7 board's xc7A35t device.
  8. Select Program Device and locate the m1_for_arty_a7_reference.bit bitstream file.
  9. Wait while the bitstream is downloaded.
  10. If Reset is pressed on the Arty A7 board, the following message appears on the splash screen and displayed on the terminal.
    Arm Cortex‑M1 Revision 0 Variant 1
    Example design for Digilent A7 board
    V2C-DAPLink board not detected
    Use DIP switches and push buttons to control LEDS
    Version 1.0
    Bram readback correct
    Base SPI readback correct
  11. Test the operation of the LEDs using the DIP switches and the push buttons.
If PROG is pressed on the Arty A7 board, then the built-in Digilent reference design is loaded. This displays a different splash screen on the terminal, using the same UART board rates. This reference design has different functions for the DIP and push button switches. To return to the Arm reference design, you must reprogram the board using the instructions in this section. To make the Arm reference design persistent, follow the steps in Loading the flash file to load the design in flash.
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