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Teaching Hardware Description Languages (Hdls)

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

ECE Online Courses, Labs, and Programs

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.1209.1 - 10.1209.11



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Paper Authors

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Joanne DeGroat

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

Teaching Hardware Description Languages Joanne E. DeGroat The Ohio State University, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering


This paper highlights the course content of “Theory and Design of Digital Computers, II” at The Ohio State University. The course has several topics of emphasis. The first and central topic covered in the course is the theory of Hardware Description Languages (HDLs), the simulation paradigm of VHDL, and modeling with HDLs at various levels of abstraction. The levels of abstraction starts at the gate level where the HDL description is one-to-one with the hardware modeled, i.e., there is a HDL modeling statement for each gate in the design. The level of abstraction continues to increase until at the end of the course the modeling is at the algorithmic level. The design projects used for each level of abstraction will be detailed. The other topics covered in the course deal with various aspects of computer architecture and digital systems. The detailed operation of the registers and an arithmetic/logic unit are explored. The operation of the control unit is also discussed, but in a quarter system there is not sufficient time to model it. Rather, the course moves on to advanced functional units, such as floating point units, and discussion of the IEEE Floating Point standard. A single precision floating point add/subtract unit is modeled. Thus, the course may emphasize the theory of and modeling with Hardware Description Languages, but the course also introduces the students to additional aspects of computer architecture and digital design.

I. Overview:

The design methodology for digital integrated circuits has changed dramatically from their early inception. Not only has technology advanced to the point where a significant “system” can be placed on a single chip, but the design methodology to design such a chip has also advanced to allow such an implementation. In 1980 Hardware Description Languages (HDLs) existed but were proprietary. In the 1980s, the development of a “standardized” HDL began. The language requirements for the language were established in 1981. The first standard HDL was the VHSIC Hardware Description Language (VHDL) which was first standardized in 19871. There have been subsequent standards for the language in 1993 and 1998 and the next version of the language, VHDL-200x, should be standardized in the near year.

The course EE762, Theory and Design of Digital Computers, II was introduced in 1993 at Ohio State University. The course introduced the use of VHDL to design and

Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering Education

DeGroat, J. (2005, June), Teaching Hardware Description Languages (Hdls) Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--14143

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