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Module ICE-2301:
VLSI & Digital Circuits

Module Facts

Run by School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 1

Overall aims and purpose

To build upon the basic knowledge of digital circuits gained from CE 1301 and to prepare the students for digital signal processing and FPGA-based project work. the module will also introduce the concepts and design techniques of Very Large Scale Integration systems through a study of Application Specific Integrated Circuits (ASICs), with particular emphasis on Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs).

Course content

Indicative content includes:

Review of Boolean algebra, Karnaugh maps, combinational circuits, programmable logic. CMOS logic. Synchronous Finite State Machines. Analysis and synthesis of ‘Moore’ and ‘Mealy’ synchronous circuits. Partition Minimisation, State Assignment. Circuits for addition, subtraction and multiplication, including speed-up techniques. Carry-look ahead, array multipliers. Multi-operand addition. Wallace and Dadda Trees. The problems of testing digital circuits. ASIC technologies: fully custom, standard cell, gate array and programmable ASICs. Influence of total cost on choice of ASIC type. Programmable Logic Devices (PLDs), Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs). Programming technology. CMOS logic cells. Coarse-grained vs fine-grained architectures. Routing and Timing. I/O cells. Embedded microprocessors. Register Transfer Level (RTL) design: datapath, High Level State Machines (HSM), operator binding, operator scheduling, area-time trade-offs.

Assessment Criteria

threshold

Equivalent to 40%. Uses key areas of theory or knowledge to meet the Learning Outcomes of the module. Is able to formulate an appropriate solution to accurately solve tasks and questions. Can identify individual aspects, but lacks an awareness of links between them and the wider contexts. Outputs can be understood, but lack structure and/or coherence.

good

Equivalent to the range 60%-69%. Is able to analyse a task or problem to decide which aspects of theory and knowledge to apply. Solutions are of a workable quality, demonstrating understanding of underlying principles. Major themes can be linked appropriately but may not be able to extend this to individual aspects. Outputs are readily understood, with an appropriate structure but may lack sophistication.

excellent

Equivalent to the range 70%+. Assemble critically evaluated, relevent areas of knowledge and theory to constuct professional-level solutions to tasks and questions presented. Is able to cross-link themes and aspects to draw considered conclusions. Presents outputs in a cohesive, accurate, and efficient manner.

Learning outcomes

  1. Explain and apply the principles of synchronous digital circuit design.

  2. Reconstruct the common circuits used for computer arithmetic.

  3. Test and measure, using common approaches and tools, digital circuits.

  4. Distinguish different types of ASICs, their design, their suitability for given applications, and techniques to program them.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
Final exam 60
Class test 1 10
Practical experiments 30

Teaching and Learning Strategy

Hours
Laboratory

Practical laboratories (2 hrs x 12 weeks).

24
Lecture

Traditional lectures (3hrs x 12 weeks).

36
Private study

Worked examples, design problems, attempting tutorial questions, completing past exam papers, revision.

136
Tutorial

Supporting tutorials with worked problems (4 x 1hrs).

4

Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Numeracy - Proficiency in using numbers at appropriate levels of accuracy
  • Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
  • Teamwork - Able to constructively cooperate with others on a common task, and/or be part of a day-to-day working team
  • Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others
  • Leadership - Able to lead and manage, develop action plans and objectives, offer guidance and direction to others, and cope with the related pressures such authority can result in

Subject specific skills

  • Apply underpinning concepts and ideas of engineering;
  • Apply knowledge and understanding of the specialist cognate area of electronic engineering in an international context;
  • Apply knowledge and understanding of the specialist cognate area of computer systems engineering in an international context;
  • Apply knowledge and understanding of the specialist cognate area of computer systems for controlling complex systems;
  • Apply knowledge and understanding of the specialist cognate area of computer systems engineering in safety-critical areas;
  • Assess and choose optimal methods and approaches for the specification, design, implementation and evaluation of engineering solutions, especially ones that include embedded microprocessors
  • Solve problems logically and systematically;
  • Assess and choose optimal methods and approaches for the specification, design, implementation and evaluation of engineering solutions.
  • Demonstrate familiarity with relevant subject specific and general computer software packages.

Courses including this module

Compulsory in courses: