Setting up Xilinx ISE Projects


Changes in ISE 8.1 have caused the .ise files (project files) to balloon in size, making them quite unfriendly for revision control (SVN, CVS, etc) as well as distribution. We have over 25 projects in our standard FrontPanel distribution.

So instead of maintaining the bloated .ise files, we have decided to just distribute the source files and provide instructions on creating a project from scratch. I apologize for the inconvenience, but until Xilinx can get their act together with project files that make sense, it must be done.

This file is written for the Counters project, but with appropriate changes, it will extend easily to the others.

If you are new to ISE Project Navigator, you should review the Xilinx documentation on that software. At least some familiarity with ISE is assumed here.

Step 1: Create a new Project
Within Project Navigator, create a new project. This will also create a new directory to contain the project. You will be copying files into this new location.

Be sure to select the correct FPGA device for your particular board.

Step 2: Copy source files to Project
Copy the files from the sample directory to your new Project directory. For the Counters (XEM3010-Verilog) sample, these are:

  • Counters.v - Counters Verilog source.
  • xem3010.ucf - Constraints file for the XEM3010 board.

Step 3: Copy Opal Kelly FrontPanel HDL files
From the FrontPanel installation directory, copy the HDL module files. For this example, we’ll use the files from XilinxISE71_v2 (which also work under ISE 8.1 for the XEM3010):

  • okLibrary.v - Verilog library file
  • *.ngc - Pre-compiled FrontPanel HDL modules

Step 4: Add sources to your Project
Within Project Navigator, select “Add Sources…” from the “Project” menu. Add the following files to your project: (Note that you have already copied these files to your project directory in the previous steps. They are now being added to your Project)

  • Counters.v
  • okLibrary.v
  • xem3010.ucf

Step 5: Generate Programming File
Within Project Navigator, select your toplevel source (Counters.v in this case) from the “Sources” list. Then double-click on “Generate Programming File” to have ISE build a programming file that you can then download to your board using FrontPanel.