June 14, 2009
June 14, 2009
June 17, 2009
14.40.1 - 14.40.14
A LabVIEW FPGA Toolkit to Teach Digital Logic Design Abstract
National Instruments (NI) has added the ability to graphically design digital circuitry in its LabVIEW development environment that can directly interface to and program Xilinx FPGA devices. The Electronics and Telecommunications Engineering Technology (EET/TET) Programs at Texas A&M University selected the Xilinx Spartan-3E Starter Board available from Digilent as the platform for use in its sophomore-level digital design and microcontroller architecture courses. In addition, the EET/TET faculty decided to use the NI LabVIEW graphical development environment for both of these courses. The resources offered by National Instruments in their commercially available LabVIEW FPGA Module were found not to be intuitive enough to fully support the digital design requirements of these courses which included both combinatorial as well as sequential logic. During summer 2008, NI sponsored a development project in partnership with the EET/TET Programs. Under the direction of the EET/TET faculty, a graduate student (former EET undergraduate student) was funded by National Instruments to develop a digital logic design toolkit that integrated into the NI LabVIEW software and allowed students to design using typical combinatorial and sequential logic devices that ranged from AND, OR, NOT gates to Flip Flops, Counters, Comparators, Selectors, Decoders, etc. This newly developed toolkit was tested during the Fall 2008 semester and version 1.0 of the toolkit should be available to other universities in Spring 2009. This paper presents the toolkit developed by students and faculty at Texas A&M University and recommendations for integrating the toolkit into the digital design sequence of engineering and engineering technology programs.
One of the primary focuses of the Electronics and Telecommunications Technology (EET/TET) Programs at Texas A&M University is providing each graduate with an ability to design hardware and software products and systems using industry-grade toolsets. Use of these tools to develop embedded data acquisition and control systems begins with the first technical courses at the sophomore level. The curricula seek to expose the students to a wide range of software (assembly, C, and graphical) languages as well as providing experience in utilizing multiple microcontroller development platforms. Recently, the programs, through the addition of a new faculty member, re-introduced field-programmable gate array (FPGA) technology to its hardware suite and Hardware Description Languages (specifically VHDL) to its programming languages. The intent is to provide students with a spectrum of hardware technologies and programming languages to choose from in implementing their Capstone Design Projects during their senior year of classes.
As with many engineering and engineering technology programs, the EET/TET programs recognized the importance of Field Programmable gate Array (FPGA) technology to the development of the digital curriculum.1,2 The faculty decided to introduce the FPGA technology at the beginning of the technology courses required by both educational programs so that all students would have access to these tools. Working with the Xilinx university programs3 and engineering support personnel, a Digilent Spartan-3E Development board4 was chosen for use in
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