The course is optional in the BS-level programme in Electronic And Communications Engineering and is offered in the second period of the third year. It deals with the basics of Digital Electronics, covering all different aspects of digital design. The most important design methodologies related to basic digital circuits up to complex processing systems are shown and applied. The knowledges and the abilities developed in this module are necessary for the more advanced courses on digital systems.
The course is optional in the BS-level program in Electronic And Communications Engineering and is offered in the second period of the third year.
The course provides the basics of Digital Electronics, from the elementary combinational and sequential circuits up to the design of complex processing systems. Moreover, the course introduces the use of Microcontrollers for the implementation of embedded systems.
A relevant number of hours is devoted to practical activities, tailored around several projects to be completed step by step in the laboratory, by following the learned design methodologies, and by exploiting professional CAD tools and hardware boards.
-Knowledge of basic combinatorial circuits and their synthesis tools; -
Knowledge of sequential circuits and their synthesis tools;
-Knowledge and ability in the use of a Hardware Description Language such as VHDL: description and syntesis of digital blocks.
-Knowledge of complex programming digital circuits (FPGAs); -Knowledge of memory structures and architectures, and their use in processing systems.
- Basic knowledge of microcontrollers architectures and applications.
Applying the studied methods for the analysis of combinational and sequential circuits.
Applying the studied methodologies for the design of basic combinatorial and sequential circuits.
Modeling digital circuits by means of Hardware Description Languages such as VHDL.
Designing complete digital systems starting from the assigned specifications.
Programming a modern configurable logic device (FPGA).
Understanding the architecture and functionalities of different memory components
Understanding the internal features and capabilities of modern microcontrollers.
Developing microcontroller-based applications starting from assigned specifications.
Boole's Algebra; elementary combinatorial and sequential digital functions; concept of finite state machine.
Boole's Algebra; elementary gates; basics in electronic devices; basics in C programming language and computer architecture.
- Combinatorial circuits: synthesis techinques for basic and arithmetic circuits (1 CFU)
- Sequential circuits: elementary FSMs and complex control architectures (ASM charts) (2 CFU)
- Hardware Description Languages (VHDL): statements, data structures and coding techniques for hardware description and modelling (2 CFU);
- Memories: circuits, architectures and applications (1 CFU);
- Microcontrollers: internal architecture, programming model and use; peripheral units (2 CFU);
Combinational circuits: relevant circuits, timing, synthesis techniques for basic circuits, arithmetic circuits. (0.5 CFU)
Sequential circuits: elementary circuits, flip flops, FSMs. (1 CFU)
Complex architectures (ASM charts, datapath and control unit). (1 CFU)
Hardware Description Languages (VHDL): statements, data structures, and coding techniques for hardware description and modeling (1.5 CFU)
Microcontrollers: internal architecture, programming model, peripherals, development tools (2 CFU)
Memories: circuits, architectures, and applications. (1 CFU)
Programmable devices (PLD, FPGA). (1 CFU)
Practice classes will focus on small digital designs.
Laboratory sessions consist in the development, synthesis and implementation of digital designs, described using VHDL language and microcontrollers. Evaluation boards will be available to test the designs. Overall, laboratory assignments will be completed by groups of 3 or 4 students. A report is required for each laboratory session and it will be considered in the final grade. Assignments must be completed and delivered within specific dates distributed during the spring term.
Practice classes will focus on a number of assigned digital designs:
1) VHDL as a language for design entry (behavioural simulation, synthesis, post place & route simulation)
2) Application design on an FPGA board (design entry, simulation, synthesis)
3) FPGA configuration and test
4) Microcontroller technology : development of simple projects (C language), test on STM32 microcontroller
Laboratory sessions consist of the development, synthesis, and implementation of dedicated digital designs described using VHDL language or microcontroller-based applications. Evaluation boards will be available to test the designs. Overall, laboratory assignments will be completed by groups of 3 or 4 students. A report is required for each laboratory session and it will be considered in the final grade. Assignments must be completed and delivered within specific dates distributed during the spring term.
The learning material used for the lessons is made available through the course website. This includes notes provided by the professor, datasheets of electronic components, free ebooks and past written tests. Reference books: "Fundamentals of Digital Logic with VHDL Design (Third Edition)" di Stephen Brown e Zvonko Vranesic , Mc Graw Hill.
The learning material used for the lessons is made available through the course website. This includes notes provided by the professor, datasheets of electronic components, free ebooks and past written tests.
"Fundamentals of Digital Logic with VHDL Design (Third Edition)" Stephen Brown and Zvonko Vranesic , Mc Graw Hill
“Introduction to Microcontrollers”, Günther Gridling, Bettina Weiss, Vienna University of Technology, 2007
“Mastering STM32”, Carmine Noviello, Lean Publishing, 2017.
“Free Range VHDL”, Bryan Mealy, Fabrizio Tappero, 2016
“The VHDL Cookbook”, Peter J. Ashenden, 1990
“Introduction to Embedded Systems - Interfacing to the Freescale 9S12”, Jonathan W. Valvano, 2010
Modalità di esame: Prova scritta (in aula); Prova orale obbligatoria; Elaborato progettuale in gruppo;
Exam: Written test; Compulsory oral exam; Group project;
The written test includes three open answer questions and one design problem. The available time is 2 hours. The questions cover all course topics and they intend to verify the acquired knowledge and capabilities. The design problem requires to understand the initial specifications, to develop a detailed datapath architecture, to properly model the control unit, and to describe one or multiple elements by means of VHDL. No books and notes are admitted. Normally, the same weight is given to each question. However, the weight of questions that achieved a very low average mark may be slightly reduced. A mark at least equal to 18/30 is required to pass to the oral exam, which concerns both the subjects already covered in the written test and the discussion of the submitted projects. Normally, two questions are asked and one of them is about laboratory projects. The evaluation of laboratory projects is based on:
- adopted methodology
- obtained results.
The final grade is a weighted average of the written and oral exams (weighted 0.8) and lab reports (weighted 0.2).
Gli studenti e le studentesse con disabilità o con Disturbi Specifici di Apprendimento (DSA), oltre alla segnalazione tramite procedura informatizzata, sono invitati a comunicare anche direttamente al/la docente titolare dell'insegnamento, con un preavviso non inferiore ad una settimana dall'avvio della sessione d'esame, gli strumenti compensativi concordati con l'Unità Special Needs, al fine di permettere al/la docente la declinazione più idonea in riferimento alla specifica tipologia di esame.
Exam: Written test; Compulsory oral exam; Group project;
The exam has three components:
1) Written test on the whole set of covered topics. Questions include at least one (simple) design problem to be solved and two/three open answer questions, where you have to describe what you know about a given subject. There are no multiple-choice questions. This component assigns up to 21 points in the 30-point scale.
2) Evaluation of the group projects, based on material delivered within the given deadlines. Late deliveries will not be evaluated. This component assigns up to 9 points.
3) Oral exam, mandatory, covering questions about the completed projects, questions about the written test (if necessary), additional questions on any course topic.
In the written test, the available time is 2 hours. The questions cover all course topics and they intend to verify the acquired knowledge and capabilities. The design problem requires understanding the initial specifications, developing a detailed datapath architecture, to properly model the control unit, and describing one or multiple elements by means of VHDL. No books and notes are admitted. Each question has a uniform distribution of weights. However, these weights may be slightly modified (by no more than 20%) after the correction of tests, based on the statistical distribution of marks. The evaluation of the written test initially assigns a mark in the 0 to 30 range (passing threshold = 18). Passing marks are then multiplied by 21/30 (range 12.6 to 21) .
The evaluation of the laboratory projects gives additional points up to a maximum of 9/30, depending on:
quality of the delivered code (functional correctness, synthesizability, readability, …), and quality of the report (clarity, completeness, …).
The oral exam is accessible only if the written test has been passed (mark >= 18/30 or >=12.6/21). One of the main roles of the oral exam is evaluating the individual contribution of a student in the delivered group projects. The oral exam can correct the mark resulting from the sum of the two previous evaluations by +/- 3 points.
In addition to the message sent by the online system, students with disabilities or Specific Learning Disorders (SLD) are invited to directly inform the professor in charge of the course about the special arrangements for the exam that have been agreed with the Special Needs Unit. The professor has to be informed at least one week before the beginning of the examination session in order to provide students with the most suitable arrangements for each specific type of exam.