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Toward An Interactive Environment For Embedded Systems Design

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Conference

2010 Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

Software and Hardware for Educators I

Tagged Division

Computers in Education

Page Count

10

Page Numbers

15.1268.1 - 15.1268.10

DOI

10.18260/1-2--16362

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/16362

Download Count

55

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Paper Authors

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Fadi Obeidat Virginia Commonwealth University

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Fadi Obeidat is a Ph.D. candidate in electrical and computer engineering dept. at Virginia Commonwealth University. He received her B.S. and M.S. degrees in Computer Engineering from Jordan University of Science and Technology and Yarmouk University, respectively. His research focuses on Embedded Systems Design, Performance Modeling and Computer Architecture.

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Ruba Alkhasawneh Virginia Commonwealth University

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Ruba A. Alkhasawneh is a Ph.D. student in electrical and computer engineering dept. at Virginia Commonwealth University. She received her B.S. and M.S. degrees in Computer Engineering from Jordan University of Science and Technology and Yarmouk University, respectively. Her research focuses on diversity issues and engineering education.

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Jerry Tucker Virginia Commonwealth University

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Dr. Tucker received his BSEE from the Mississippi State University in 1963 at which time he joined NASA Langley Research Center. While at Langley Research Center he received his MEEE in 1969 from the University of Virginia and in 1974 his Ph.D. in Electrical engineering from Virginia Tech. Dr. Tucker is currently an Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering at the Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA. His research interests include: Computer architecture, parallel processing, embedded microprocessor system hardware and software, VHDL based FPGA design, reconfigurable logic, ASIC design, Boolean equations, and Boolean calculus.

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Robert Klenke Virginia Commonwealth University

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Robert H. Klenke is currently an Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering at the Virginia Commonwealth University. His research interests include system level modeling, hardware description languages, and unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) flight control systems and applications. Dr. Klenke received his B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from the Virginia Military Institute in 1982, and his M.S. and Ph.D. Degrees in Electrical Engineering from the University of Virginia in 1989 and 1993, respectively. He is a Senior member of the IEEE and a member of the IEEE Computer Society, Tau Beta Pi, and Eta Kappa Nu.

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

Toward an Interactive Environment for Embedded Systems Design

Abstract

In this paper, we propose building an interactive environment for embedded systems design using Nexys2 board from Digilent where a MicroBlaze soft-core processor and a VHDL monitor interface have been configured on the Xilinx Spartan-3E FPGA. This infrastructure allows an easy integration of hardware/software modules and a flexible monitoring for application’s signals-of-interest, which in turn, enables students enrolled in an embedded systems class to interact directly with software and hardware components via monitor interface allowing an interactive debugging for the system-under-development. Moreover, as an implementation of problem based learning in engineering education, the project itself is a practical implementation of an embedded system that aims to walkthrough basic skills needed in embedded systems design.

Introduction

Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs) have been used in many embedded applications due to their ever-increasing level of performance, low cost, and re-configurability. For example, FPGAs have been used to accelerate a wide range of applications where the applications’ computation-intensive parts can be implemented in hardware (on FPGA)1-3. Available gate count per FPGA chip has reached numbers that allow for implementation of very complex applications with the ability to implement soft-core processors such as MocroBlaze (from Xilinx)4 and Nios- II (from Altera)5, which in turn form a fertile environment for hardware/software co-design. In general, embedded systems work with limited resources (e.g., memory and power) in a real-time environment by employing a combination of software (SW) and hardware (HW) resources.

During the last couple of decades, industry needs have increased for embedded system engineers who possess both HW design and SW programming skills6,7. Hence, embedded systems design, as a topic, has been recently adopted by universities as one of the undergraduate/graduate courses/majors in the computer engineering area. Students enrolled in these courses are assumed to have a background in programming and hardware design skills using assembly languages, C, and hardware description languages (HDL) such as VHDL. Efforts have been made to define a set of theoretical and practical educational methodologies that help in achieving better outcomes of such courses8-13. In 2005, a workshop for embedded system education was held in conjunction with EMSOFT embedded software conference14. The presented papers discussed three main factors that affect the educational process in the embedded systems field: 1) teaching experience, 2) curricula and contents, and 3) labs and platforms. For example, the importance of enhancing the laboratory environment for improving embedded systems education process is shown in [12]. This work points to the significant role of using current available technologies and tools such as hard/soft-core processors, IP (Intellectual Property) cores, and the EDK (embedded development kit) tool in embedded systems labs. It also shows the importance of transition from using TTL ICs (transistor–transistor-logic integrated circuits) to reconfigurable devices such as FPGA. In [13] a set of experiments are proposed to enable students to acquire a set of practical skills

Obeidat, F., & Alkhasawneh, R., & Tucker, J., & Klenke, R. (2010, June), Toward An Interactive Environment For Embedded Systems Design Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16362

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