June 14, 2009
June 14, 2009
June 17, 2009
14.373.1 - 14.373.9
Course Development in Digital Systems Targeting Reconfigurable Hardware Abstract It is important for engineering students to keep up-to-date with the changing technologies in order to fully exploit technology capabilities for implementing engineering designs. In doing so, students are well informed about the choices they have for developing a working prototype for their capstone design project. Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs) provide a flexible hardware platform to accommodate digital systems. FPGAs provide further opportunities for runtime reconfiguration that may be quite useful in applications requiring frequent changes in system behavior. In addition to having the necessary background in digital systems design, students need a tool that allows them to easily model their design such that the design could be implemented smoothly on FPGAs. Very High Speed Integrated Circuit (VHSIC) Hardware Description Language (VHDL) appropriately meets that need. VHDL even enables Intellectual Property (IP) cores to be incorporated seamlessly into a design that can be implemented on FPGAs. As such, a course needs to be developed encompassing microcontroller architecture, digital system design and implementation on FPGAs using VHDL. This paper describes the development of such a course with a case study of microprocessor design and implementation. The discussions also extend to incorporating an IP core processor in a system design that targets FPGAs. Introduction One of the major objectives of curriculum development is to enhance students’ learning1. The factors that support this objective has been identified in1 and in several other studies as: a) allowing students to be empowered, informed, and responsive learners who can assume a meaningful role in the society; b) providing engaging laboratory and continuous assessment of learning outcomes; c) utilizing students’ pre-existing knowledge, providing examples and teaching subject matter in depth; and d) sharing ideas and materials so that projects can be built and connected to enhance the work of each other within a group. As such any course development activity needs to take these factors into account in order to ensure its success. Students in Electronics and Telecommunications Engineering are introduced to Digital Logic as the first course that lays the foundation for many other courses. Such courses include Microprocessors / Microcontrollers, Assembly Language Programming, and Computer Architecture to name a few. With the knowledge built through this chain of courses, students are equipped with the necessary skills to embark on projects that involve Hardware / Software co- design. It is important to ensure a seamless transition from one course to the other in this chain. This enables the target students to integrate the body of knowledge gained. Specialized hardware components could compensate for the speed of execution and power requirements for an application2. Moreover, reconfigurable hardware can ensure reusability of a given chip-area by many embedded applications, thus saving space. There is a clear demand for improved hardware platforms to enhance the performance of applications under cost-constraints. Current high-density FPGAs have the potential to satisfy this demand3. For a given number of I/O connections, FPGAs provide a low cost implementation platform for less than 1000 units.
Hasan, M. (2009, June), Course Development In Digital Systems Targeting Reconfigurable Hardware Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. https://peer.asee.org/5408
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