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FPGAs in the Advanced Laboratory

In this workshop you will work with FPGAs (Field Programmable Gate-Arrays.) Unlike the older, traditional application specific standard products (ASSPs), such as the 4000 or 7400 series chips, FPGAs contain 100k or more logic gates which can be operated reliably in the MHz to GHz range. These properties make FPGAs ideally suited to be used in an advanced lab course teaching digital logic or to have them directly incorporated into lab projects.


You will interface the Digilent’s BASYS3 FPGA hardware boards and learn how to implement combinational and sequential digital logic using a hardware descriptive language, such as Verilog and Xilinx’s Vivado compiler.  You will build an interactive 8 bit adder and subtractor.  The pulse width modulation (PWM) technique will be applied to build a digital-to-analog converter to play music.  An 8-digit period and frequency counter will be implemented with a state machine and an IP core based microprocessor will be embedded in the FPGA to communicate the results to a PC over an USB port.

Time permitting, we’ll do additional exercises such as using an IP core to create a sinusoidal frequency synthesizer, a successive-approximation analog-to-digital converter or build a coincidence counter driven by a couple of GM tubes; use the digital clock manager to control the system clock and work with other educational hardware options, such as National Instruments CompactRIO.  All equipment and software will be provided.

Experiment Costs: The actual FPGA boards cost $89 with academic discount. Additional plug-in boards used during the workshop add another $100 to $150. The compiler software is free. You will also need a computer and an oscilloscope.