University of Toledo, Ohio
March 19, 2021
March 19, 2021
March 20, 2021
Introducing Open Source Hardware in Computer Engineering courses
Sharan Kalwani and Subramaniam Ganesan, Oakland University, Rochester, MI 48309
In this paper we describe introducing usage in computer engineering courses of open source hardware (OSH). Open source refers to something which people can modify and share as the design is publicly accessible. The idea originated from the software development world as a new approach to creating & sharing computer software. Open source projects, products, or initiatives which embrace and celebrate principles of open exchange, collaborative participation, rapid prototyping, transparency, meritocracy, and community-oriented development are hallmarks of actual realization of this concept.
Today there are a large number of open source hardware designs available and being adopted in industry, many of which may not be known to students. Although still relatively new, however it has been growing steadily since 1997. Hardware designs of boards like Arduino, Beagle board, Adafruit and complete microprocessor Instruction Set Architectures using RISC designs such SPARC, Open POWER, Open RISC, ZPU and more recently RISC-V are examples.
We will describe the various OSH products and identify in which courses they can be used. Senior design and upper/post graduate offerings in Computer Engineering are ideally positioned to utilize OSH and we will show some examples. RISC-V and other designs can be taught and used as practical implementations and examples in Computer Architecture & Organization courses. ZPU and similar reference architectures can be used for FPGA based subjects, as well as Embedded Systems tracks. The microprocessor board designs can all be taught using the OSH platforms, illustrating good principles, etc. The side benefits are both advantageous and are numerous: such as encouraging student led designs to be later actually implemented in real life and leading to greater entrepreneurship. Materials can be re-used in successive and spin off courses, increasing the opportunity potential for team work, skills development and much more. Many more course examples and descriptions will be presented in the full paper. By adopting or incorporating OSH features, no longer will computer engineering courses be forced to choose between specific, proprietary or theoretical designs, thus removing limits and opening up exciting potential for the students.
Kalwani, S., & Ganesan, S. (2021, March), Introducing Open Source Hardware in Computer Engineering courses Paper presented at 2021 ASEE North Central Section Conference, University of Toledo, Ohio. https://peer.asee.org/36344
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