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Reconfigurable Logic In Laboratory Instruction

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1998 Annual Conference


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 28, 1998

Start Date

June 28, 1998

End Date

July 1, 1998



Page Count


Page Numbers

3.480.1 - 3.480.4

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Paper Authors

author page

Shelton L. Houston

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Kamal S. Ali

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

3548 TS/2


Shelton L. Houston and Kamal S. Ali School of Engineering Technology University of Southern Mississippi Box 5137, Hattiesburg MS 39406


Traditionally, laboratory instruction in computer and electronics engineering technology has relied mainly on SSI and MSI integrated circuits. This placed a limitation on the number of components per lab experiment, and hence, a limitation on the complexity of the laboratory tasks presented to students. Exasperated by the laboratory session’s time duration and the methods available for circuit construction, circuits built as laboratory experiments are, more often than not, rather simple. Although possible, it is very difficult to perform complex testing on a proto-board. To allow for complex circuits to be designed and tested in a laboratory environment, a solution has been adopted here at the University of Southern Mississippi (USM). Namely, the use of reconfigurable circuit design techniques. Using reconfigurable logic, circuits with a high level of complexity may be designed, built, and tested by the students in a relatively short period of time. The hardware and software used at USM has been limited to Xilinx’s and Altera’s Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs) development tools running on a PC platform. The primary reason for using these manufacturers has been cost. Both Xilinx and Altera have donated software and hardware for the USM laboratories.

This paper will examine the methodology used to introduce the students to the concept of re-configurable logic, the use of this technology in the laboratory, and the impact of this technology on student learning. Finally, the advantages and disadvantages of this technology are outlined.


Today’s market has a wide range of programmable electronic devices, starting with the PAL and GAL devices to FPGAs with tens of thousands of gates per IC. At the high end, the number of programmable elements per device has steadily been increasing. The level at which such devices are programmed has also been increasing, or becoming more user friendly. The ease by which these devices are programmed has prompted their incorporation in the CET curriculum at the University of Southern Mississippi. This has allowed the introduction of sophisticated lab experiments exposing the students to complex digital concepts.

Houston, S. L., & Ali, K. S. (1998, June), Reconfigurable Logic In Laboratory Instruction Paper presented at 1998 Annual Conference, Seattle, Washington.

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