Course Overview

The scope of embedded system design has expanded from the traditional system of a programmed microprocessor or microcontroller to the use of embedded processor cores that implement a system on a reconfigurable package.  This growth in technology provides greater flexibility in system design and allows the creation of custom architectures and configurations commonly referred to as systems on a chip (SoC).

SoC designs result from the increased density of functionality that can be placed on a single chip.  SoC designs are characterized by functional complexity which can not be effectively accommodated by traditional hardware-only design methods. The embedded computer system architectures on these chips include concurrent software executing on one or more processors, operating system schedulers, and hardware models, including application specific functionality, buses and networks. 

In this context, the hybrid embedded systems course introduces a  soft processor based on the MIPS architecture.  Students will learn how to design, develop, and use the Altera DE2 board and implement the NIOS II soft core on the Cyclone II FPGA through the Quartus tool flow.  Additionally, interfacing to external devices through the UART, PS2 and Avalon interface will be covered.

Through lectures, readings, presentations, discussions, and projects, this course presents the fundamental models and design steps that enable the design of SoC from the software through the logic levels, with the goal of integrating multiple components and other systems.


Programming in  Verilog HDL and C/C++ will be required as well as a team project. 



Dr. David Ward

Assistant Professor Adjunct

Electrical, Computer, and Energy Engineering

University of Colorado at Boulder

425 UCB, Boulder, CO 80309


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