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AR# 64410

UltraScale DDR4/DDR3/RLDRAM3/QDRII+ IP - Can either external or internal VREF be used? There is no option within the MIG tool.


DDR4 UltraScale IP supports only internal VREF. 

DDR3/RLDRAM3/QDRII+ UltraScale IP supports both external and internal options for VREF.

Because VREF selection is specific to I/O pin planning (which has been removed from MIG in the 2015.1 version of Vivado), the option to select external versus internal is not provided within the MIG customization tool.

Is internal or external VREF recommended? 

What is needed to properly configure the memory interface I/O to use internal or external VREF?


Internal Versus External VREF Recommendations

The UltraScale internal VREF circuit includes enhancements compared to the 7 Series internal VREF circuit.

Whereas 7 Series MIG had datarate limitations on internal VREF usage (see (Xilinx Answer 42036)), internal VREF is recommended in UltraScale.

The VREF for 7 Series had coarse steps of VREF value that were based on VCCAUX.

This saved pins but limited the performance because VCCAUX did not track with VCCO as voltage went up and down.

Not being able to track with VCCO enforced the performance limitations of internal VREF in MIG 7 Series.

UltraScale includes several changes to internal VREF including a much finer resolution of VREF for DDR4 read VREF training.

Additionally, internal VREF is based on the VCCO supply enabling it to track with VCCO.

Internal VREF is not subject to PCB and Package inductance and capacitance.

These changes in design now give internal VREF the highest performance.

Steps for configuring Internal or External VREF

Because internal VREF is required for DDR4, the UltraScale IP is automatically configured for internal VREF usage.

The VREF value listed in the below noted constraint is not used with DDR4 PODL12 I/Os.

For DDR4, the initial value is set, by default, to 0.84V.

The calibration logic, starting in MIG 7.1 released with Vivado 2015.2., then adjusts this voltage as needed for maximum interface performance.

The following steps should be followed for DDR3, RLDRAM3, and QDRII+ UltraScale IP.

1. Follow board requirements for external or internal VREF as per the (UG571) UltraScale Architecture-Based FPGAs SelectIO Resources User Guide.


2. To use internal VREF, the FPGA banks containing inputs require a constraint specifying the banks and voltage.

This can be manually added to the XDC or entered using I/O Pin Planner (see UG899 > Creating an INTERNAL_VREF Constraint).

A sample for DDR3 SSTL15 is shown here:

set_property INTERNAL_VREF 0.750 [get_iobanks 45]

A sample for RLDRAM3 SSTL12 is shown here:

set_property INTERNAL_VREF 0.600 [get_iobanks 45]

A sample for QDRII+ HSTL_I is shown here:

set_property INTERNAL_VREF 0.750 [get_iobanks 45]

AR# 64410
Date Created 04/29/2015
Last Updated 06/15/2015
Status Active
Type General Article
  • Kintex UltraScale
  • Virtex UltraScale
  • MIG UltraScale