EPCC RISC-V testbed team
EPCC RISC-V testbed team


  • Issues

As well as supporting physical hardware (e.g. Allwinner D1, SiFive U74, and 64-core SOPHGO SG2042 CPUs), the testbed also supports RISC-V soft-cores running on an ADM-PA101, which is an AMD/Xilinx Versal FPGA equipped with 16GB DDR.


In order to simplify development, the ADM-PA101 has been set up to run PetaLinux, to allow the soft-cores to be added to the Slurm cluster as the card has Ethernet access. To enable this, we need to configure PetaLinux to boot via ‘tftp’ and mount its root filesystem over NFS.

Networking / MAC address configuration

By default, PetaLinux configures the Ethernet port with a random MAC address. To allow a DHCP assigned IP address based on the MAC address, the following variables need to be set:


The hostname can be set as using CONFIG_SUBSYSTEM_HOSTNAME="fpga01".

Root filesystem user configuration

The default PetaLinux configuration will set up root and petalinux users. This configration can be overridden as follows:


NOTE: This sets the default root password to ‘root’ and should be changed. The petalinux-build command will raise a warning to remind you to change this.

In the above example, user1 has sudo access through the addition of CONFIG_ADD_USERS_TO_SUDOERS="user1". The example also shows how groups can be added.

NOTE: The first build of PetaLinux should be used to create the root filesystem (or use petalinux-build -c rootfs to rebuild), which should then be expanded into the NFS share directory (e.g. /tftpboot/nfsroot).

Root filesystem over NFS configuration

Using NFS for the root filesystem should be a trivial configuration change using petalinux-config. However, by default, the Xilinx PetaLinux configuration uses NFS v4 protocol for the client. Unfortunately, this is incompatible with the default Debian NFS server running on our login node. The answer is to force the PetaLinux boot to use NFS v3 which can be set in the BOOTARGS using the PetaLinux config UI or in the BOOTARGS variable of project-spec/configs/config file in the PetaLinux project directory (sw/petalinux/base):

CONFIG_SUBSYSTEM_BOOTARGS_GENERATED="console=ttyAMA0 earlycon=pl011,mmio32,0xFF000000,115200n8 clk_ignore_unused root=/dev/nfs nfsroot=c0.ff.ee.00:/tftpboot/nfsroot,tcp,v3 ip=dhcp rw"

Here we can see that the root file system is being set to a NFS mount (root=/dev/nfs) with the nfsroot option including the server and path, as well as forcing tcp and v3 of the NFS protocol.


Unfortunately, the CONFIG_SUBSYSTEM_BOOTARGS_GENERATED setting, as the name suggests, is generated and gets wiped during the build. Therefore, the documentation states that the boot command arguments need to be placed in the chosen section of sw/petalinux/system-user.dtsi as follows:

chosen {
	stdout-path = "serial0:115200";
    	bootargs = "console=ttyAMA0 earlycon=pl011,mmio32,0xFF000000,115200n8 clk_ignore_unused root=/dev/nfs nfsroot=c0.ff.ee.00:/tftpboot/nfsroot,tcp,v3 ip=dhcp rw"

However, this breaks the build when petalinux-build generates other .dtsi files and we are unable to proceed further.

Workaround for the RISC-V testbed

After much experimentation, the following approach can be used to build a PetaLinux image for the uSD card that will boot over ‘tftp’ and mount the root filesystem over NFS.

  1. Expand the AlphaData supplied ps_base_sw-admpa101-v1_2_0.tar.gz in a working directory
  2. Setup PetaLinux and Vivado environment (assuming Bash on Linux):
    • source <petalinux_tools_directory>/settings. sh
    • source <vivado_directory>/settings64.sh
  3. cd ps_base_sw-admpa101-v1_2_0/fpga/proj/base
    • Runvivado -mode batch -source mkxpr-base.tcl
    • When complete, vivado -mode batch -source do_build.tcl
  4. cd ps_base_sw-admpa101-v1_2_0/sw/petalinux
    • petalinux-create -t project -s ../../os/simple.bsp
  5. cd simple
  6. petalinux-build
  7. Make a cup of tea / coffee, drink slowly and wait…
  8. Either:
    • Create a patch to the config file to add DHCP and NFS support using diff
    • Copy the patch (here config.patch) to ps_base_sw-admpa101-v1_2_0/sw/petalinux/simple
    • patch -b project-spec/configs/config config.patch
  9. Or:
    • Edit the project-spec/configs/config directly to make the required changes above
  10. petalinux-build
  11. petalinux-package --boot --u-boot (builds BOOT.BIN)
  12. Copy image.ub, boot.scr and BOOT.BIN from /tftpboot to the uSD card (petalinux-build will place the files in /tftpboot by default).

Note: Ignore the following warning as once NFS is enabled, the user accounts will be configured from the NFS root file system:

WARNING: petalinux-image-minimal-1.0-r0 do_rootfs: Enabling autologin to user root. This configuration should NOT be used in production!

As mentioned above, this build assumes that there is an expanded rootfs for the ARM cores in /tftpboot/nfsroot (previous petalinux-build -c rootfs)