June 14, 2015
June 14, 2015
June 17, 2015
Electrical and Computer
26.1742.1 - 26.1742.12
WIMP51 Processor: Envisioning and Recreating the Platform for Implementing Student Design Projects The Digital Systems Design course aims to introduce Electrical and ComputerEngineering majors to systems design using microcontrollers. This course, required forComputer Engineering majors, but an elective for Electrical Engineering majors, follows therequired Introduction to Computer Engineering course. An attempt is, also, made to introducestudents to computer organization and architecture skills. The microcontroller courseconcentrates on the 8051 family of microcontrollers. The 8051’s internal architecture is complexfor students to grasp at that level. Instead, the internal conceptual working, of themicrocontroller, is explained, using the instruction set, over the course of an entire semester. Inorder to introduce students to a typical internal architecture, 8051’s smaller subset, WeekendInstructional Microprocessor (WIMP51), was previously designed, which is rudimentary indesign and has a small instruction set1. The original WIMP51 was created using VHDL1.Students, taking the Introduction to Computer Engineering course, are not required to learnVHDL. Depending on the instructor’s decision, VHDL is rarely introduced at that level. Insteadstudents create and simulate digital circuits in Altera’s Quartus II design software using BlockDiagram Files (BDF), which is a pictorial method of creating a digital circuit. Once designed andsimulated, the digital circuit can be tested on Altera’s DE II FPGA board. In order to provide a platform for students to better visualize, understand and learn theinternal organization and architecture, of the WIMP51 processor, a student oriented projectedwas implemented to redesign WIMP51, using the original inspiration (a similar but differentimplementation!); in Quartus II design software using BDF. A group of junior and senior levelElectrical Engineering students were given the task, using the basic organizational diagram andinstruction set as reference, and the knowledge learnt in the Introduction to ComputerEngineering course, to recreate the WIMP51 processor. The difference in the twoimplementations includes some changes to the original internal organization, logic developmentof the internal hardware and the original instruction set. The created processor can bedownloaded onto the FPGA board and tested. Using multiple test programs, students canunderstand the working of the WIMP51. This platform allows for the easy implementation of amajor class project. Students are required to create their own version of the WIMP51 processor,by adding a single or multiple instructions, depending on complexity, to the current instructionset. This paper discusses, in depth, the recreation of the WIMP51 processor and describes thedesigned features to help students obtain a deeper understanding of the internal working of theprocessor. Figure 1: Part of the recreated WIMP51 top-level entity diagramBibliography D. Sullins, H. Pottinger, and D. G. Beetner, “The WIMP51: A Simple Processor and Visualization Tool toIntroduce Undergraduates to Computer Organization,” Computers in Education Journal, vol. 13, pp 17-23, Jan.2003.
Marshall, M., & Moss, A., & Garringer, L. G., & Dua, R. (2015, June), WIMP51 Processor: Envisioning and Recreating the Platform for Implementing Student Design Projects Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.25078
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