Some users prefer the design tool for automatically managing their design flow process and design data, while others prefer to manage sources and process themselves. The Vivado Design Suite uses a project file (.xpr) and directory structure to manage the design source files, store the results of different synthesis and implementation runs, and track the project status through the design flow. This automated management of the design data, process, and status requires a project infrastructure. For this reason, AMD refers to this flow as the Project Mode.
Other users prefer to run the FPGA design process more like a source file compilation, to simply compile the sources, implement the design, and report the results. This compilation style flow is referred to as the Non-Project mode. The Vivado Design Suite easily accommodates both of these use models.
Both of these flows utilize a project structure to compile and manage the design. The main distinctions are that Non-Project mode processes the entire design in memory. No files are written to disk. While Project mode creates and maintains a project directory structure on disk to manage design sources, results, and project settings and status.
The following provides a brief overview of Project mode and Non-Project mode. For a more complete description of these design modes, and the features and benefits of each, refer to the Vivado Design Suite User Guide: Design Flows Overview (UG892).