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Teaching Hardware Design Of Fixed Point Digital Signal Processing Systems

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Special Session on Fixed-Point Education

Tagged Division

Computers in Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.1360.1 - 12.1360.15



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Paper Authors

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David Anderson Georgia Institute of Technology

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Tyson Hall Southern Adventist University

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

Session: 2711

Teaching Hardware Design of Fixed-Point Digital Signal Processing Systems

David V. Anderson1 and Tyson S. Hall2 1 Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA 30332–0250, 2 Southern Adventist University, Collegedale, TN 37315–0370,


Signal processing theory and practice are enabling and driving forces behind multimedia de- vices, communications systems, and even such diverse fields as automotive and medical sys- tems. Over 90% of the signal processing systems on the market used fixed-point arithmetic because of the cost, power, and area savings that fixed-point systems provide. However, most colleges and universities do not teach or teach only a very little fixed-point signal process- ing. This issue is being addressed slowly around the country but now a new challenge or opportunity presents itself. As reconfigurable logic technology matures, field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) are increasingly used for signal processing systems. They have the ad- vantage of tremendous throughput, great flexibility, and system integration. The challenge is that signal processing in FPGAs is a much less constrained problem than signal processing in special purpose microprocessors. The opportunity arises in that it is now possible to explore more options and, more especially, to take a more systems-level approach to signal processing systems. In short, designing a signal processing system using FPGAs provides opportunities to look at many system design issues and trade-offs in a classroom setting.

We have developed a course to teach signal processing in FPGAs at Georgia Institute of Technology and in this paper we consider the challenges and methods of teaching fixed- point system design in this course. We discuss the topics chosen and how they differ from traditional microprocessor-based courses. We also discuss how systems engineering concepts are woven into the course.

1 Motivation

This paper describes the early development of a system design curriculum that uses field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) to implement digital signal processing (DSP) systems. The goals of this curriculum are several-fold, including:

• to prepare students for system design problems with which they are likely to be pre- sented upon graduation;

Proceedings of the 2007 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright c 2007, American Society for Engineering Education

Anderson, D., & Hall, T. (2007, June), Teaching Hardware Design Of Fixed Point Digital Signal Processing Systems Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2919

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