Export (X)SVF from Xilinx ISE Webpack

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Most CPLDs are programmed through a 4-wire JTAG interface. ISE programs CPLDs via the IMPACT utility, listed on the design panel as shown.

Only parallel cables and Xilinx USB cables can be used directly from IMPACT. We can also export generic JTAG programming files called (X)SVF. These files can be loaded with an external (X)SVF player utility and output through any JTAG programmer such as the Bus Pirate or Bus Blaster.




  • Open Impact to generate the SVF or XSVF programming file

Create a new project


  • File->new project


  • Select "prepare boundary scan file", type SVF or XSVF


  • Choose a location and name for the (X)SVF programming file


  • Assign a configuration file, this is usually a .JED file such as my_project.jed
  • Use the .JED from the current project, it tells IMPACT what chip you're using

Record programming to the SVF or XSVF


  • Right click on the chip and choose Set target device


  • Right click on the chip and choose Program
  • The output will be saved to (X)SVF file, use this file to program the device

Automate it

This is all very tedious and can be automated from the Webpack interface.

We've posted a method to convert SVF files to XSVF format, but Xilinx has included a handy way to produce "One Step XSVF" files in their Webpack ISE development environment. As they describe it:

The One Step XSVF procedure creates an XSVF file without having you specify a file name and without having you specify the programming instructions to be executed on the selected device. The procedure creates an XSVF file containing a bitstream and commands to erase, program, and verify a device in your Boundary Scan chain. The file produced, named default.xsvf, is placed in your iMPACT project directory.


  • Double-click Boundary Scan in the iMPACT Flows panel.
  • In the Boundary Scan window, select the device for which you will create an SVF file. This means right-click on the window and go to the folder containing your current project's files. Then double-click on the ".jed" file for your current project.) This will open a graphic showing your CPLD chip.
  • Left-click on the CPLD chip icon in the window to highlight the chip. Right click to display a drop down menu. Select the "One Step XSVF" option. The file will be created and the "Expressxsvf Succeeded" graphic will be displayed.
  • An XSVF file named "default.xsvf" is created in your project directory.
  • IMPORTANT NOTE: the file produced by this process is named default.xsvf and will be found in your iMPACT project directory. You will probably want to rename the file from "default" to something more descriptive. Then simply follow the BPXSVFPLAYER instructions to download to the CPLD board!

Adapted from Xilinx Webpack ISE 13.1 software help topics.