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Microprocessor Design Learning

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Conference

2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access

Location

Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Embedded Systems and Cybersecurity in ECE

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

Page Count

18

DOI

10.18260/1-2--34971

Permanent URL

https://strategy.asee.org/34971

Download Count

154

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Paper Authors

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Dominic Zucchini Missouri University of Science and Technology

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Dominic Zucchini is senior in at the S&T Cooperative Engineering program in Springfield. He is studying for his degree major in Electrical Engineering and minor in Computer Engineering. He has taken all courses in computer engineering available in the cooperative program and is now exploring curriculum outside of the classroom through research projects such as the WIMPAVR. His research interests include embedded system programming and ASIC design.

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Justin Chau Missouri University of Science and Technology

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Justin Chau is a senior in the Cooperative Electrical Engineering Program between Missouri State University and Missouri University of Science and Technology. Justin is interested in learning about computer engineering, electronics, and signal processing and likes to work on projects in these areas outside of class.

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Matthew Neal Mutarelli Missouri University of Science and Technology and Missouri State University

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Matthew Mutarelli, is a student in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the Missouri University of Science and Technology and Missouri State University’s Cooperative Engineering Program. His research interests include Integrated Systems , Digital Logic, and Control systems.

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Rohit Dua Missouri University of Science and Technology

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ROHIT DUA, Ph.D is an Associate Teaching Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the Missouri University of Science and Technology and Missouri State University’s Cooperative Engineering Program. His research interests include engineering education. (http://web.mst.edu/~rdua/)

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Abstract

Learning microprocessor design generally involves taking an upper undergraduate, or graduate, level Computer Engineering (CpE) course, or multiple such courses, which teach design using Hardware Descriptive Languages (HDL), such as, VHDL. While this methodology is optimal, and highly recommended and required, for CpE majors, the practice is not suitable for non-CpE majors, such as Electrical Engineering (EE) undergraduate majors, who may not have HDL programming skills at the sophomore or junior level. This state is particularly true if HDL are not covered in the required Introduction to Digital Logic course, which is generally the first computer engineering sophomore level course that all EE/CpE/CS majors take. In addition, the most common subsequent course that EE/CpE/CS majors take, in the realm of computer engineering, is a first course in embedded systems and microcontrollers, in which students are exposed to a microcontroller family, including a discussion on how a microprocessor executes different instructions. In order to ease the understanding of microprocessor basics, the discussion usually includes a smaller subset of an actual microprocessor core, which can be called a mini-processor. It is in this setting that students are first exposed to microprocessor design. The learning can then be enhanced by incorporating a project, in which, students are required to create a version of the mini-processor by adding instructions to the current mini-processor instruction set. Since students, taking this microcontroller course, most likely, will not have experience programming using HDL, the processor discussion, demonstration and project work must be done using a different tool. One of the available tools is schematic capture. Students taking the embedded systems class, know how to program in a schematic capture environment, which makes it an ideal platform for learning basic microprocessor operation and building variations, of the mini-processor, via an in-class project. Past implementation of a mini-processor, using schematic capture, has concentrated on the processor core of the Intel 8051 microcontroller family. As technology has evolved over time, the 8051 family, and its operation, has grown obsolete in favor of faster microprocessors such as the AVR family of microcontrollers. The AVR processor uses Harvard Architecture to achieve a maximum throughput of one instruction per clock cycle. A Weekend Instruction Microprocessor (WIMP) version for the AVR processor, WIMP-AVR, was designed to allow students to learn and understand how the newer and faster AVR processor operates. This experiential learning project was created by undergraduate students enrolled in the Electrical Engineering degree program. The AVR processor was designed with Quartus II software using schematic capture files of digital circuits through block diagram files (BDF). The paper discusses the creation of the WIMP AVR processor, using schematic capture, the additional features added, to help students understand the operation of the AVR processor, and the emulation of the processor on the popular Intel DE2 FPGA board.

Zucchini, D., & Chau, J., & Mutarelli, M. N., & Dua, R. (2020, June), Microprocessor Design Learning Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34971

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