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ELEC5621: Digital Systems Design (2011 - Semester 2)

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Unit: ELEC5621: Digital Systems Design (6 CP)
Mode: Normal-Day
On Offer: Yes
Level: Postgraduate
Faculty/School: School of Electrical & Computer Engineering
Unit Coordinator/s: Prof Leong, Philip
Session options: Semester 2
Versions for this Unit:
Campus: Camperdown/Darlington
Pre-Requisites: ELEC2602 AND ELEC3608. Basic knowledge of digital logic, computer architecture and microprocessor systems is required.
Brief Handbook Description: This unit of study explores the design of digital computing systems using hardware description languages. Topics covered include field programmable gate array (FPGA) architectures, computer arithmetic, high-speed digital logic, interfacing, computer architectures and case studies. Emphasis will be on how to design high-performance digital systems at the algorithmic, system and logic level. Students are required to implement, test and report on a digital design of moderate complexity.
Assumed Knowledge: None.
Timetable: ELEC5621 Timetable
Time Commitment:
# Activity Name Hours per Week Sessions per Week Weeks per Semester
1 Lecture 2.00 1 13
2 Laboratory 3.00 1 10
3 Independent Study 2.00 1 13
T&L Activities: Laboratory: Laboratory experiments to revise concepts and gain familiarity with design tools.

Assignment: Propose and design a digital system of moderate complexity.

Independent Study: Self study

Attributes listed here represent the key course goals (see Course Map tab) designated for this unit. The list below describes how these attributes are developed through practice in the unit. See Learning Outcomes and Assessment tabs for details of how these attributes are assessed.

Attribute Development Method Attribute Developed
Students will be required to address a significant digital design component. Design and Problem Solving Skills (Level 5)
State of the art digital architectures and design techniques will be covered. Discipline Specific Expertise (Level 4)
Students will learn to model various aspects of digital systems. Fundamentals of Science and Engineering (Level 2)
Students will develop skills in accessing and digesting information on research topics in digital systems. Information Skills (Level 3)
Communications with other team members and in the form of reports will be necessary. Professional Communication (Level 3)
Students will be required to consider systems as a whole and exercise judgement to develop work programs and ensure work is completed on time. Professional Values, Judgement and Conduct (Level 2)
Students will be required to work in teams, practise communications and leadership skills and manage their projects in an effective manner. Teamwork and Project Management (Level 4)

For explanation of attributes and levels see Engineering/IT Graduate Attribute Matrix 2009.

Learning outcomes are the key abilities and knowledge that will be assessed in this unit. They are listed according to the course goal supported by each. See Assessment Tab for details how each outcome is assessed.

Design and Problem Solving Skills (Level 5)
1. Students will be able to methodically design and prototype digital systems of moderate complexity. They will be aware of standard methodologies and tools for making such designs.
Discipline Specific Expertise (Level 4)
2. Students will be able to critically compare different approaches and contribute original solutions to the problem studied.
Fundamentals of Science and Engineering (Level 2)
3. Students will be able to model and compare different algorithms and hardware architectures in terms of their important design parameters such as cost, speed, area and power consumption.
Information Skills (Level 3)
4. Students will develop the skills necessary to review the literature on an aspect of digital systems design.
Professional Communication (Level 3)
5. Students will be able to write a technical report explaining their design.
Professional Values, Judgement and Conduct (Level 2)
6. Students will make both technical and managerial decisions throughout the course of the project.
Teamwork and Project Management (Level 4)
7. Students will practise working in teams. They will also develop the skills necessary to manage an engineering project.
Assessment Methods:
# Name Group Weight Due Week Outcomes
1 Design project Yes 20.00 Week 12 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7,
2 Assignment report Yes 30.00 Week 13 4, 5,
3 Final exam Yes 50.00 Exam Period
Assessment Description: Lab Report: Lab exercises. Report due each week, one week after each lab day.

Assignment: Design project.

Final Exam: 2 hour closed book.
Policies & Procedures: Policies regarding academic honesty and plagiarism, special consideration and appeals in the Faculty of Engineering and Information Technologies can be found on the Faculty's policy page at Faculty policies are governed by Academic Board resolutions whose details can be found on the Central Policy Online site at

Policies regarding assessment formatting, submission methods, late submission penalties and assessment feedback depend on the unit of study. Details of these policies, where applicable, should be found above with other assessment details.
Recommended Reference/s: Note: References are provided for guidance purposes only. Students are advised to consult these books in the university library. Purchase is not required.
  • Reconfigurable Computing
Note on Resources: Scientific papers.

Note that the "Weeks" referred to in this Schedule are those of the official university semester calendar

Week Description
Week 1 Lecture: Introduction
Week 2 Lecture: FPGA architectures
Tutorial: FPGA architecture tutorial
Week 3 Lecture: FPGA interconnects
Tutorial: FPGA interconnect reading assignment
Week 4 Lecture: Finite state machines
Lab: Design exercise I
Week 5 Lecture: Hardware compilation
Design exercise II
Week 6 Lecture: Shift registers, LFSRs and random number generators
Lab: Define project
Week 7 Lecture: Cryptographic applications
Lab: Work on project I
Week 8 Lecture: Distributed arithmetic
Lab: Work on project II
Week 9 Lecture: Signal processing applications
Lab: Work on project III
Week 10 Lecture: Neuromorphic engineering
Work on project IV
Week 11 Lecture: Computer arithmetic
Lab: Work on project V
Week 12 Lecture: Floating point arithmetic
Assessment Due: Design project
Week 13 Lecture: High speed interfacing
Assessment Due: Assignment report
Exam Period Assessment Due: Final exam

Course Relations

The following is a list of courses which have added this Unit to their structure.

Course Year(s) Offered
Electrical Mid-Year 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022
Electrical/ Project Management 2019, 2020
Electrical 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022
Electrical / Arts 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020
Electrical / Commerce 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020
Electrical / Music Studies 2016, 2017
Electrical / Project Management 2016, 2017, 2018
Electrical / Science 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020
Electrical / Science (Health) 2018, 2019, 2020
Electrical (Computer) 2015
Electrical (Power) 2015
Electrical (Telecommunications) 2015
Software Mid-Year 2016, 2017
Software 2015, 2016, 2017
Software / Arts 2016, 2017
Software / Commerce 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019
Software / Music Studies 2016, 2017
Software / Project Management 2016, 2017
Software / Science 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019
Software / Science (Health) 2018, 2019
Software / Law 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019
Electrical / Science (Medical Science Stream) 2018, 2019, 2020
Master of Professional Engineering (Electrical) 2011, 2012, 2013
Master of Professional Engineering (Power) 2013
Software / Science (Medical Science Stream) 2018, 2019

Course Goals

This unit contributes to the achievement of the following course goals:

Attribute Practiced Assessed
Design and Problem Solving Skills (Level 5) Yes 4%
Discipline Specific Expertise (Level 4) Yes 4%
Fundamentals of Science and Engineering (Level 2) Yes 4%
Information Skills (Level 3) Yes 5%
Professional Communication (Level 3) Yes 27%
Professional Values, Judgement and Conduct (Level 2) Yes 4%
Teamwork and Project Management (Level 4) Yes 2%

These goals are selected from Engineering/IT Graduate Attribute Matrix 2009 which defines overall goals for courses where this unit is primarily offered. See Engineering/IT Graduate Attribute Matrix 2009 for details of the attributes and levels to be developed in the course as a whole. Percentage figures alongside each course goal provide a rough indication of their relative weighting in assessment for this unit. Note that not all goals are necessarily part of assessment. Some may be more about practice activity. See Learning outcomes for details of what is assessed in relation to each goal and Assessment for details of how the outcome is assessed. See Attributes for details of practice provided for each goal.