Data Transfer

Versal Adaptive SoC Technical Reference Manual (AM011)

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1.6 English

The SPI controller follows a specific series of operations to initiate and control the data transfers on the SPI bus. This section details the data transfer handshake mechanisms.

Data Transfer

The SCLK clock and MOSI signals are under control of the master. Data to be transmitted is written into the TXFIFO by software using register writes and then unloaded for transmission by the controller hardware in a manual or automatic start sequence. Data is driven onto the master output (MOSI) data pin. Transmission is continuous while there is data in the TXFIFO. Data is received serially on the MISO data pin and is loaded eight bits at a time into the RXFIFO. Software reads the RXFIFO using register reads. For every n bytes written to the TXFIFO, there are n bytes stored in RXFIFO that must be read by software before starting the next transfer.

Auto/Manual Slave Select and Start

Data transfers on the I/O interface can be manually started using software or automatically started by the controller hardware. Also, the slave select assertion/deassertion can be controlled by the hardware or the software.

  • Manual slave select

    Software selects the manual slave select method by setting the Config [Manual_CS] bit = 1. In this mode, software must explicitly control the slave select assertion/deassertion. When the [Manual_CS] bit = 0, the controller hardware automatically asserts the slave select during a data transfer.

  • Automatic slave select

    Software selects the auto slave select method by programming the [Manual_CS] bit = 0. The SPI controller asserts/deasserts the slave select for each transfer of TXFIFO content on to the MOSI signal. Software writes data to the TXFIFO and the controller asserts the slave select automatically, transmits the data in the TXFIFO, and then deasserts the slave select. The slave select gets deasserted after all the data in the TXFIFO is transmitted. This is the end of the transfer. Software ensures the following in automatic slave select mode.

    • Software continuously fills the TXFIFO with the data bytes to be transmitted, without the TXFIFO becoming empty, to maintain an asserted slave select
    • Software continuously reads data bytes received in the RXFIFO to avoid overflow

Software uses the TXFIFO and RXFIFO threshold levels to avoid FIFO under- and over-flows. The TXFIFO’s not-full condition is flagged when the number of bytes in TXFIFO is less than the TXFIFO threshold level. The RXFIFO full condition is flagged when the number of bytes in RXFIFO is equal to 128.

Manual Start

This section describes how to start data transfers in manual mode.


Software selects the manual transfer method by setting the Config [Man_start_en] bit = 1. In this mode, software must explicitly start the data transfer using the manual start command mechanism. When the [Man_start_en] bit = 0, the controller hardware automatically starts the data transfer when there is data available in the TXFIFO.


Software starts a manual transfer by writing a 1 to the [Man_start_com] bit. When the software writes the 1, the controller hardware starts the data transfer and transfers all the data bytes present in the TXFIFO. The [Man_start_com] bit is self-clearing. Writing a 1 to this bit is ignored if [Man_start_en] = 0. Writing a 0 to [Man_start_com] has no effect, regardless of mode.


The slave select input pin must be driven synchronously with respect to the SCLK input. The controller operates in the SPI_REF_CLK clock domain. The input signals are synchronized and analyzed in the SPI_REF_CLK domain.

Word Detection

The start of a word is detected in the SPI_REF_CLK clock domain.

  • Detection when controller is enabled: if the controller is enabled (from a disabled state) at a time when the slave select is active-Low, the controller ignores the data and waits for the SCLK to be inactive (a word boundary) before capturing data. The controller counts SCLK inactivity in the SPI_REF_CLK domain. A new word is assumed when the SCLK idle count reaches the value programmed into the SPI.SLV_IDLE [Slave_Idle_count] bit field.
  • Detection when slave select is asserted: with the controller enabled and slave select is detected as High (inactive), the controller assumes the start of the word occurs on the next active edge of SCLK after slave select transitions active-Low.

Start Condition

The start condition must be held active for at least four SPI_REF_CLK cycles to be detected. If slave mode is enabled at a time when the master is very close to starting a data transfer, there is a small probability that false synchronization will occur, causing packet corruption. This issue is avoided by ensuring any of the following:

  • External master does not initiate a data transfer until at least ten SPI_REF_CLK cycles are complete after slave mode is enabled
  • Slave mode is enabled before the attached master is enabled
  • Slave select input signal is not active when the slave is enabled