Quick Start Guide


The OPAE C library is a lightweight user-space library that provides abstraction for FPGA resources in a compute environment. Built on top of the OPAE Intel® FPGA driver stack that supports Intel® FPGA platforms, the library abstracts away hardware specific and OS specific details and exposes the underlying FPGA resources as a set of features accessible from within software programs running on the host.

These features include the acceleration logic preconfigured on the device, as well as functions to manage and reconfigure the device. Hence, the library is able to enalbe user applications to transparently and seamlessly leverage FPGA-based acceleration.

In this document, we will explore the initial steps on how to setup the required libraries and utilities to use the FPGA devices.

Installing the OPAE Intel® FPGA drivers

If you do not have access to an Intel® Xeon® processor with integrated FPGA, or a programmable FPGA acceleration card for Intel® Xeon® processors, you will not be able to run the examples below. However, you can still make use of the AFU simulation environment (ASE) to develop and test accelerator RTL with OPAE applications.

For more information about ASE, see the OPAE AFU Simulation Environment (ASE) User Guide.

As part of the OPAE SDK release, we provide DKMS-based RPM and DEB packages for distributions using RPM (e.g. Redhat, Fedora, Centos) and DEB (eg. Ubuntu) package managers. Download these package from the respective release page on GitHub - they are named opae-intel-fpga-driver-x.y.z-r.x86_64.rpm and opae-intel-fpga-driver_x.y.z-r_amd64.deb, with x.y.z-r being the respective OPAE release’s version number.


The packages require that the DKMS (Dynamic Kernel Module System) package, version greater than 2.2, is already installed.

For RPM-based distributions:

$ sudo yum install opae-intel-fpga-driver-<release>.x86_64.rpm

For DEB-based distributions:

$ sudo dpkg -i opae-intel-fpga-driver_<release>_amd64.deb

Installing the OPAE SDK from rpm or deb packages

See the OPAE Installation Guide for information about OPAE RPM and DEB packages. Assuming the packages are already downloaded and exist in the current folder, then use the commands below to install the OPAE library, tools, and development headers.

For rpm packages:

$ sudo yum install opae-libs-<release>.x86_64.rpm
$ sudo yum install opae-tools-<release>.x86_64.rpm
$ sudo yum install opae-tools-extra-<release>.x86_64.rpm
$ sudo yum install opae-devel-<release>.x86_64.rpm
$ sudo yum install opae-ase-<release>.x86_64.rpm

For deb packages:

$ sudo dpkg -i opae-libs-<release>.x86_64.deb
$ sudo dpkg -i opae-tools-<release>.x86_64.deb
$ sudo dpkg -i opae-tools-extra-<release>.x86_64.deb
$ sudo dpkg -i opae-devel-<release>.x86_64.deb
$ sudo dpkg -i opae-ase-<release>.x86_64.deb

To use OPAE in the simulation environment, you also need to install the AFU Simulation Environment (ASE) package:


$ sudo yum install opae-ase-<release>.x86_64.rpm


$ sudo dpkg -i opae-<release>.x86_64-ase.deb

Building and installing the OPAE SDK from source

Download the OPAE SDK source package from the respective release page on GitHub - click the Source code (tar.gz) link under “Downloads”.

After downloading the source, unpack, configure, and compile it:

tar xfvz opae-sdk-<release>.tar.gz
cd opae-sdk-<release>
mkdir mybuild
cd mybuild
cmake .. -DBUILD_ASE=1

By default, the OPAE SDK will install into /usr/local if you also issue the following:

make install

You can change this installation prefix from /usr/local into something else by adding -DCMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX=<new prefix> to the cmake command above. The remainder of this guide assumes you installed into /usr/local.

Configuring the FPGA (loading an FPGA AFU)

The fpgaconf tool exercises the AFU reconfiguration functionality. It shows how to read a bitstream from a disk file, check its validity and compatability, and then injects it into FPGA to be configured as a new AFU, which can then be discovered and used by user applications.

For this step you require a valid green bitstream (GBS) file. To reconfigure the FPGA slot, you can issue following command as system administrator (root):

$ sudo fpgaconf -b 0x5e <filename>.gbs

The -b parameter to fpgaconf indicates the target bus number of the FPGA slot to be reconfigured. Alternatively, you can also specify the target socket number of the FPGA using the -s parameter.

$ sudo fpgaconf --help
        fpgaconf [-hvn] [-b <bus>] [-d <device>] [-f <function>] [-s <socket>] <gbs>

                -h,--help           Print this help
                -v,--verbose        Increase verbosity
                -n,--dry-run        Don't actually perform actions
                -b,--bus            Set target bus number
                -d,--device         Set target device number
                -f,--function       Set target function number
                -s,--socket         Set target socket number


The sample application on the Building a Sample Application section requires loading of an AFU called “Native Loopback Adapter” (NLB) on the FPGA. Please refer to the NLB documentation for the location of the NLB’s green bitstream. You also can verify if the NLB green bitstream has already been loaded into the FPGA slot by typing the following command and checking the output matches the following:

$ cat /sys/class/fpga/intel-fpga-dev.0/intel-fpga-port.0/afu_id


Building a sample application

The library source include code samples. Use these samples to learn how to call functions in the library. Build and run these samples as quick sanity checks to determine if your installation and environment are set up properly.

In this guide, we will build hello_fpga.c. This is the “Hello World!” example of using the library. This code searches for a predefined and known AFU called “Native Loopback Adapter” on the FPGA. If found, it acquires ownership and then interacts with the AFU by sending it a 2MB message and waiting for the message being echoed back. This coe exercises all major components of the API except for AFU reconfiguration: AFU search, enumeration, access, MMIO, and memory management.

You can also find the source for hello\_fpga in the samples directory of the OPAE SDK repository on github.

int main(int argc, char *argv[])
    fpga_properties    filter = NULL;
    fpga_token         afc_token;
    fpga_handle        afc_handle;
    fpga_guid          guid;
    uint32_t           num_matches;

    volatile uint64_t *dsm_ptr    = NULL;
    volatile uint64_t *status_ptr = NULL;
    volatile uint64_t *input_ptr  = NULL;
    volatile uint64_t *output_ptr = NULL;

    uint64_t        dsm_wsid;
    uint64_t        input_wsid;
    uint64_t        output_wsid;
    fpga_result     res = FPGA_OK;

    if (uuid_parse(NLB0_AFUID, guid) < 0) {
        fprintf(stderr, "Error parsing guid '%s'\n", NLB0_AFUID);
        goto out_exit;

    /* Look for AFC with MY_AFC_ID */
    res = fpgaGetProperties(NULL, &filter);
    ON_ERR_GOTO(res, out_exit, "creating properties object");

    res = fpgaPropertiesSetObjectType(filter, FPGA_AFC);
    ON_ERR_GOTO(res, out_destroy_prop, "setting object type");

    res = fpgaPropertiesSetGuid(filter, guid);
    ON_ERR_GOTO(res, out_destroy_prop, "setting GUID");

    /* TODO: Add selection via BDF / device ID */

    res = fpgaEnumerate(&filter, 1, &afc_token, 1, &num_matches);
    ON_ERR_GOTO(res, out_destroy_prop, "enumerating AFCs");

    if (num_matches < 1) {
        fprintf(stderr, "AFC not found.\n");
        res = fpgaDestroyProperties(&filter);
        return FPGA_INVALID_PARAM;

    /* Open AFC and map MMIO */
    res = fpgaOpen(afc_token, &afc_handle, 0);
    ON_ERR_GOTO(res, out_destroy_tok, "opening AFC");

    res = fpgaMapMMIO(afc_handle, 0, NULL);
    ON_ERR_GOTO(res, out_close, "mapping MMIO space");

    /* Allocate buffers */
    res = fpgaPrepareBuffer(afc_handle, LPBK1_DSM_SIZE,
                (void **)&dsm_ptr, &dsm_wsid, 0);
    ON_ERR_GOTO(res, out_close, "allocating DSM buffer");

    res = fpgaPrepareBuffer(afc_handle, LPBK1_BUFFER_ALLOCATION_SIZE,
               (void **)&input_ptr, &input_wsid, 0);
    ON_ERR_GOTO(res, out_free_dsm, "allocating input buffer");

    res = fpgaPrepareBuffer(afc_handle, LPBK1_BUFFER_ALLOCATION_SIZE,
               (void **)&output_ptr, &output_wsid, 0);
    ON_ERR_GOTO(res, out_free_input, "allocating output buffer");

    printf("Running Test\n");

    /* Initialize buffers */
    memset((void *)dsm_ptr,    0,    LPBK1_DSM_SIZE);
    memset((void *)input_ptr,  0xAF, LPBK1_BUFFER_SIZE);
    memset((void *)output_ptr, 0xBE, LPBK1_BUFFER_SIZE);

    cache_line *cl_ptr = (cache_line *)input_ptr;
    for (uint32_t i = 0; i < LPBK1_BUFFER_SIZE / CL(1); ++i) {
        cl_ptr[i].uint[15] = i+1; /* set the last uint in every cacheline */

    /* Reset AFC */
    res = fpgaReset(afc_handle);
    ON_ERR_GOTO(res, out_free_output, "resetting AFC");

    /* Program DMA addresses */
    uint64_t iova;
    res = fpgaGetIOVA(afc_handle, dsm_wsid, &iova);
    ON_ERR_GOTO(res, out_free_output, "getting DSM IOVA");

    res = fpgaWriteMMIO64(afc_handle, 0, CSR_AFU_DSM_BASEL, iova);
    ON_ERR_GOTO(res, out_free_output, "writing CSR_AFU_DSM_BASEL");

    res = fpgaWriteMMIO32(afc_handle, 0, CSR_CTL, 0);
    ON_ERR_GOTO(res, out_free_output, "writing CSR_CFG");
    res = fpgaWriteMMIO32(afc_handle, 0, CSR_CTL, 1);
    ON_ERR_GOTO(res, out_free_output, "writing CSR_CFG");

    res = fpgaGetIOVA(afc_handle, input_wsid, &iova);
    ON_ERR_GOTO(res, out_free_output, "getting input IOVA");
    res = fpgaWriteMMIO64(afc_handle, 0, CSR_SRC_ADDR, CACHELINE_ALIGNED_ADDR(iova));
    ON_ERR_GOTO(res, out_free_output, "writing CSR_SRC_ADDR");

    res = fpgaGetIOVA(afc_handle, output_wsid, &iova);
    ON_ERR_GOTO(res, out_free_output, "getting output IOVA");
    res = fpgaWriteMMIO64(afc_handle, 0, CSR_DST_ADDR, CACHELINE_ALIGNED_ADDR(iova));
    ON_ERR_GOTO(res, out_free_output, "writing CSR_DST_ADDR");
    //fpgaProgramBufferAddressAndLength(afc_handle, dsm_wsid, 0, LPBK1_DSM_SIZE,
    //                 CSR_AFU_DSM_BASEL);
    //fpgaProgramBufferAddressAndLength(afc_handle, input_wsid, 0, LPBK1_BUFFER_SIZE,
    //                 CSR_SRC_ADDR);
    //fpgaProgramBufferAddressAndLength(afc_handle, output_wsid, 0, LPBK1_BUFFER_SIZE,
    //                 CSR_DST_ADDR);

    res = fpgaWriteMMIO32(afc_handle, 0, CSR_NUM_LINES, LPBK1_BUFFER_SIZE / CL(1));
    ON_ERR_GOTO(res, out_free_output, "writing CSR_NUM_LINES");
    res = fpgaWriteMMIO32(afc_handle, 0, CSR_CFG, 0x42000);
    ON_ERR_GOTO(res, out_free_output, "writing CSR_CFG");

    status_ptr = dsm_ptr + DSM_STATUS_TEST_COMPLETE/8;

    /* Start the test */
    res = fpgaWriteMMIO32(afc_handle, 0, CSR_CTL, 3);
    ON_ERR_GOTO(res, out_free_output, "writing CSR_CFG");

    /* Wait for test completion */
    while (0 == ((*status_ptr) & 0x1)) {

    /* Stop the device */
    res = fpgaWriteMMIO32(afc_handle, 0, CSR_CTL, 7);
    ON_ERR_GOTO(res, out_free_output, "writing CSR_CFG");

    /* Check output buffer contents */
    for (uint32_t i = 0; i < LPBK1_BUFFER_SIZE; i++) {
        if (((uint8_t*)output_ptr)[i] != ((uint8_t*)input_ptr)[i]) {
            fprintf(stderr, "Output does NOT match input "
                "at offset %i!\n", i);

    printf("Done Running Test\n");

    /* Release buffers */
    res = fpgaReleaseBuffer(afc_handle, output_wsid);
    ON_ERR_GOTO(res, out_free_input, "releasing output buffer");
    res = fpgaReleaseBuffer(afc_handle, input_wsid);
    ON_ERR_GOTO(res, out_free_dsm, "releasing input buffer");
    res = fpgaReleaseBuffer(afc_handle, dsm_wsid);
    ON_ERR_GOTO(res, out_unmap, "releasing DSM buffer");

    /* Unmap MMIO space */
    res = fpgaUnmapMMIO(afc_handle, 0);
    ON_ERR_GOTO(res, out_close, "unmapping MMIO space");

    /* Release accelerator */
    res = fpgaClose(afc_handle);
    ON_ERR_GOTO(res, out_destroy_tok, "closing AFC");

    /* Destroy token */
    res = fpgaDestroyToken(&afc_token);
    ON_ERR_GOTO(res, out_destroy_prop, "destroying token");

    /* Destroy properties object */
    res = fpgaDestroyProperties(&filter);
    ON_ERR_GOTO(res, out_exit, "destroying properties object");

    return res;


Linking with the OPAE library is straightforward. Code using this library should include the header file fpga.h. Taking the GCC compiler on Linux as an example, the minimalist compile and link line should look like:

$ gcc -std=c99 hello_fpga.c -I/usr/local/include -L/usr/local/lib -lopae-c -luuid -ljson-c -lpthread -o hello_fpga


Third-party library dependency: The library internally uses libuuid and libjson-c. But they are not distributed as part of the library. Make sure you have these libraries properly installed.

To run the hello_fpga application; just issue:

$ sudo ./hello_fpga

Running Test


In order to successfully run hello_fpga, user need to configure system hugepage to reserve 2M-hugepages. For example, the command below reserves 20 2M-hugepages:

$ echo 20 | sudo tee /sys/kernel/mm/hugepages/hugepages-2048kB/nr_hugepages

For x86_64 architecture CPU, user can use following command to find out avaiable huge page sizes:

$ grep pse /proc/cpuinfo | uniq flags : … pse …

If this commands returns a non-empty string, 2MB pages are supported:

$ grep pse /proc/cpuinfo | uniq flags : … pdpe1gb …

If this commands returns a non-empty string, 1GB pages are supported:


The default configuration for many Linux distribution currently sets a relatively low limit for pinned memory allocations per process (RLIMIT_MEMLOCK, often set to a default of 64kiB). To run an OPAE application which attempts to share more memory than specified by this limit between software and an accelerator, you can either:

  • Run the application as root, or
  • Increase the limit for locked memory via ulimit:

$ ulimit -l unlimited

See the Installation Guide for how to permanently adjust the memlock limit.