There are four primary components to a complete Opal Kelly FrontPanel system as well as a fifth standalone application.
- FrontPanel Firmware (FW) – This is the firmware that resides on the XEM module and is executed by the USB microcontroller. Note that this is not to be confused with the “code” inside the FPGA. This firmware may only be upgraded by the FrontPanel Application under Windows.
- FrontPanel HDL – HDL modules incorporated into your FPGA design. These are the *.ngc files you use to build your Xilinx bitfile. They enable your hardware design to communicate through the USB microcontroller and API to your software on the PC.
- FrontPanel API – The FrontPanel API is the PC-side of the equation. This involves the library your software will interface to in order to communicate with the Opal Kelly hardware. Since this is the most flexible component, the API is generally backward compatible with older FrontPanel firmware versions.
- FrontPanel Driver – The FrontPanel driver (Windows-only) is the driver that is installed and associated with the Opal Kelly USB device. It communicates with the FrontPanel API.
- FrontPanel Application (optional) – The standalone application that can interpret XML profiles
FrontPanel SDK Releases
There have been several versions of the FrontPanel SDK released. These have involved some combination of updates of the FrontPanel components. For best results, we recommend keeping a snapshot of the materials that shipped with your board and using that for development since this collection is guaranteed to be compatible at all levels. Upgrades should be performed carefully to make sure you can update all components as required.
Latest Release: FrontPanel 4.5.6, Q4’2016
This major version change is associated with an API change. The API now supports our new PCI Express devices and USB devices in the same API.
okCUsbFrontPanel has been renamed
okCFrontPanel to reflect this change. In most cases, no other changes are required for this new API.
Releases of the Application, API, and HDL modules always come together. FP-1 versions were shipped in various installer packages named something like
FrontPanel-Win-1.4.0.exe. On the installation CD, this was renamed
Setup.exe but the version of the installed FrontPanel Application can be found by pressing F1 within the application.
Latest Release: FrontPanel 3.1.6, Q3’2010
The purpose of this minor version upgrade was to support Windows 64-bit operating systems (XP, Vista, Win7). The driver was updated and a new API (DLL) was provided. The API remained the same so a simple DLL swap and new driver installation was all that was required. Firmware remained unchanged.
Latest Release: FrontPanel 3.0.11, Q3’2008
This upgraded FrontPanel included much improved transfer rates for pipes and support for block-throttled pipes. The firmware, HDL, and API were updated in this release. Driver updates were minimal and operating system support added Windows Vista (32-bit).
Latest Release: FrontPanel 1.4.1, Q4’2006
This was the initial release line of FrontPanel products. It included the original HDL, API, and driver that supported Windows XP (32-bit), Linux (32-bit), and Mac OS X. Windows 2000 was not officially supported, but was known to work on most systems.
FrontPanel Driver Version
There are two primary USB driver versions for Windows. It is not possible to have both drivers installed at the same time. Linux and Mac OS X do not require a separate driver because the API is able to communicate with the device without one.
FrontPanel 3.1.x / 4.x Driver
This is the latest WinUSB-based driver. It supports Windows XP, Vista, and 7 in both 32-bit and 64-bit architectures. This driver is required for 3.1.x and later releases. When an Opal Kelly device is attached and using this driver, the device will appear in the “FrontPanel devices” group in Device Manager.
FrontPanel 1.x / 3.0.x Driver
This is an older driver. It supported Windows XP (32-bit). Devices using this driver are listed in Device Manager under the “Universal Serial Bus controllers” group. This driver does not support 64-bit operating systems. This driver does not support 3.1.x or later APIs.
FrontPanel Firmware Versions
Please see our FrontPanel Firmware page for more information.
FrontPanel HDL Versions
Unfortunately, FrontPanel HDL versions are not versioned in the precompiled modules. You can only reliably identify them by knowing which version of FrontPanel sourced the HDL modules used to compile your FPGA bitfile.
It is can be a good idea for you to build a firmware version into your FPGA application as a static WireOut that your software can read.