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EEC181A/B – Digital Systems Design Project

EEC181A – 2 units – Fall Quarter

EEC181B – 2 units – Winter Quarter

Workshop: 1 hour

Lab: 5 hours

Prerequisite for EEC 181A: EEC 180B; EEC 170 or ECS 122A

Prerequisite for EEC 181B: EEC 181A

Grading: Letter.

Catalog Description:

Digital-system and computer-engineering design course involving design, implementation and testing of a prototype application-specific processor under given design constraints. This is a team project that includes a final presentation and report.

Expanded Course Description:

The course involves the design, analysis, implementation, and testing of an application specific processor (ASP) using a modern, large-scale field programmable gate array (FPGA). The team is given a computationally intensive problem (e.g., realtime object tracking, factoring the product of two large prime numbers, or N-body gravity simulation) and is required to investigate algorithms for solving the problem that can be efficiently implemented on an FPGA. The ASP will typically be implemented in part as software running a soft processor with application-specific instructions built on the FPGA, and in part as an application-specific digital system to accelerate the main computation. Designs are done using commercial-grade FPGA computer-aided design tools. The team will implement a software-only reference design that runs on a standard PC or workstation and will compare and analyze the performance difference between the reference design and the ASP design. Projects will be evaluated in part based on the completeness and correctness of the ASP and the reference design, the performance of each design, and possibly other design attributes (e.g., ASP power consumption). A team project report will be submitted that describes the architecture, design, implementation, and testing of the ASP design and the reference design. The report will include a Future Work section. This section will describe the additional work that would be necessary to move the ASP from the current prototype to a commercial product. This section will also consider various real-world design constraints that would be imposed on the commerical product, including economic and manufacturability issues. This project involves the multiple disciplines of algorithms, software engineering, computer architecture, digital system design and digital system testing.


  1. J. Hamblen, T. Hall and M. Furman, Rapid Prototyping of Digital Systems SOPC Edition, Springer Verlag.

Relationship to Outcomes:

Students who have successfully completed this course should have achieved:

Course Outcomes ABET Outcomes
An ability to apply knowledge of mathematics, science, and engineering A
An ability to design and conduct experiments, as well as to analyze and interpret data B
An ability to design a system, component, or process to meet desired needs within realistic constraints such as economic, environmental, social, political, ethical, health and safety, manufacturability, and sustainability C
An ability to function on multidisciplinary teams D
An ability to identify, formulate, and solve engineering problems E
An ability to communicate effectively G
The broad education necessary to understand the impact of engineering solutions in a global, economic, environmental, and societal context H
An ability to use the techniques, skills, and modern engineering tools necessary for engineering practice. K


Professional Component:

Engineering Depth, Laboratory, Project

Engineering Science: 3 credits
Engineering Design: 2 credits