Stephen A. Edwards Columbia University Crown
CSEE 4840
Embedded System Design
Spring 2019

General Information

Class meets Fridays, 10:10 - 12:40 PM in 717 Hamilton.

Mudd 1235 is the lab, which is filled with Linux workstations. Registered students will receive accounts on these machines and 24-hour badge access to this room.

Do the labs in pairs. Project groups should be three students or more.


Name Email Office hours Location
Prof. Stephen A. Edwards By appt. 462 CSB or 1235 Mudd
John Hui F 10 - 12P 1235 Mudd
Martha Barker F 10 - 12P 1235 Mudd


Prerequisites: ELEN E3910 or COMS W3843 or the equivalent. Embedded system architecture and programming. I/O, analog and digital interfacing, and peripherals. Weekly laboratory sessions and term project on design of a microprocessor-based embedded system including at least one custom peripheral. Knowledge of C programming and digital logic required. Lab required.

The goal of this class is to introduce you to issues in hardware/software interfacing, practical microprocessor-based system design issues such as bus protocols and device drivers, and practical digital hardware design using modern logic synthesis tools. You will put all of this to use in the lab where you will be given the opportunity to implement, using a combination of C and the SystemVerilog hardware description langauge, a small embedded system.

This is a lab course done in two parts. During the first part of the class, each student will implement the same "canned" designs designed by the instructor and be given substantial guidance. These are meant as an opportunity for you to learn the development tools and basic concepts. In the second part of the class, you will divide up into teams and each will design and implement a comparable project of their own with guidance from the instructor and TAs.

This course is a capstone in which students will integrate their knowledge of digital logic, programming, and system design to produce a real system. It is intended to complement ELEN 4340, Computer Hardware Design. 4840 focuses more on system-design issues and include a large section on hardware/software integration. Students in 4840 will use gates, processors, peripherals, software, and operating systems as building blocks.


CSEE 3827, Fundamentals of Computer Systems or the equivalent. You must understand digital logic design. Prior experience with hardware description languages, FPGAs, or embedded processors is not required.

COMS 3157, Advanced Programming or the equivalent. Specifically, C programming experience. While 4840 will teach you advanced aspects of embedded C programming, you need to come in with significant C experience.

COMS W4823, Advanced Digital Logic Design. While not a formal prerequisite, you are strongly encouraged to take it. In it, you will learn advanced logic design and HDL coding, both of which are crucial to success in 4840.


Date Lecture Notes Due
Fri Jan 25 Introduction: Embedded Systems
Fri Feb 1 Memory
Fri Feb 8 Networking, USB, and Threads
Thu Feb 14 (none)
Lab 1 pdf
Fri Feb 15 Hardware/Software Interfaces
The Avalon Bus
Fri Feb 22 Device Drivers
Qsys and IP Core Integration
Thu Feb 28 (none)
Lab 2 pdf
16 GB SD Card Image.tar.gz
Fri Mar 1 Line drawing example
Sprite Graphics
Processors, FPGAs, and ASICs
Fri Mar 8 Debugging
Audio Waveforms
Thu Mar 14 (none)
Lab 3 pdf
.tar.gzHardware files
.tar.gzSoftware FIles
.tar.gzKernel Module Env.
Fri Mar 15
Mar 18-22 Spring Break
Fri Mar 29 Design
Fri Apr 5 Milestone 1
Fri Apr 12
Fri Apr 19 Milestone 2
Fri Apr 26
Fri May 3 Milestone 3
May 14 Final Project Presentations

The Project

You'll perform a design-it-yourself project in the second half of the class. There are five deliverables for the project:

  1. A short project proposal describing in broad terms what you plan to build and how you plan to build it
  2. A detailed project design describing in detail the architecture of your project, both hardware and software. This should include block diagrams, memory maps, lists of registers: everything someone else would need to understand your design. You should have done some preliminary implementation work by this point to validate your design.
    Your design document should also a plan of what you intend to complete by each of the three milestones.
  3. Three milestones that you set for yourself: think of 25%, 50%, and 75% completion
  4. A presentation on your project to the class
  5. A final project report

Project teams should be three students or more.

The Project Report

This is a critical part of the project and will be a substantial fraction of the grade.

Include the following sections:

  1. An overview of your project: a revised version of your project proposal.
  2. The detailed project design documents: a revised version of the project design.
  3. A section listing who did what and what lessons you learned and advice for future projects
  4. Complete listings of every file you wrote for the project. Include C source, SystemVerilog source, and things such as .mhs files. Don't include any file that was generated automatically.

Include all of this in a single .pdf file (don't print it out).

Also create a .tar.gz file (see the online documentation for the `tar' program to see how to create such a file. Briefly, create a file called `myfile' with the names of all the files you want to include in the archive and run tar zcf project.tar.gz `cat myfiles` to create the archive.) that just includes the files necessary to build your project, such as I did for the labs.


3D: Graphics Accelerator (MB)star
pdfProposal pdfDesign pdfReport pdfPresentation ArchiveFiles
Jie Huang, Chao Lin, Zixiong Liu, and Kaige Zhang
BrickBreaker: Videogame (JH)star
pdfProposal pdfDesign pdfReport pdfPresentation ArchiveFiles
Rui Chen, Bingyao Shi, Shao-Fu Wu, and Dajing Xu
Centipede: Videogame (JH)
pdfProposal pdfDesign pdfReport pdfPresentation ArchiveFiles
Ken Geng, Donglai Guo, Xuyang Liu, and Ziyu Zhou
Chip-8: Videogame Emulator (SE)
pdfProposal pdfDesign pdfReport pdfPresentation ArchiveFiles
Jennifer Bi, Nelson Gomez, Kundan Guha, and Justin Wong
GC: Hardware Garbage Collection (SE)
pdfProposal pdfReport pdfPresentation ArchiveFiles
Martha Barker
GameBoy: Videogame Emulator (SE)star
pdfProposal pdfDesign pdfReport pdfPresentation ArchiveFiles
Justin Hu, Christopher Smith, and Nanyu Zeng
HotSprings: Water Simulator (MB)
pdfProposal pdfReport pdfPresentation ArchiveFiles
Shanglin Guo, Guanxuan Li, Yiqi Sun, and Hongyu Zou
LoopStation: Music Synthesizer (JH)
pdfProposal pdfDesign pdfReport pdfPresentation ArchiveFiles
Doga Ozesmi, Varun Varahabhotla, Lancelot Wathieu, and Evan Ziebart
Oscilloscope: Waveform Visualizer (SE)
pdfProposal pdfReport pdfPresentation ArchiveFiles
Tvisha Gangwani, Jino Haro, Ishraq Khandaker, Klarizsa Padilla, and Zhongtai Ren
Sand: Sand etc. Simulator (MB)
pdfProposal pdfReport pdfPresentation ArchiveFiles
Jeremy Adkins and James Kolsby
StrEEtFight: Beat-em-up Videogame (JH)
pdfProposal pdfDesign pdfReport pdfPresentation ArchiveFiles
Alan Armero, Cansu Cabuk, and Daniel Mesko
TNShazam: Music Recognizer (MB)star
pdfProposal pdfDesign pdfReport pdfPresentation ArchiveFiles
Eitan Kaplan, Tomin Perea-Chamblee, and Jose Rubianes
VGG16: Neural Network Accelerator (MB)
pdfProposal pdfDesign pdfReport pdfPresentation ArchiveFiles
Xingyu Hou, Wenqi Jiang, Ke Xu, and Manqi Yang

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Other References

Recommended Texts

Mark Zwolinski.
Digital System Design with SystemVerilog.
Prentice-Hall, 2010.

SystemVerilog is relatively new, so there are not too many books out there for it. This is one of the better ones. It focuses on the sythesizable subset of the language and also discusses test benches. Examples, etc., are available from the Author's web site..

Cover of Digital System Design with SystemVerilog

James K. Peckol.
Embedded Systems: A Contemporary Design Tool.
Wiley, 2008.

Many embedded system books are too idiosyncratic or incomplete for my taste, but this one does a nice job covering everything from digital circuit design to interprocess communication in real-time operating systems. It only discusses the Verilog language and only in an appendix.

Cover of Embedded Systems: A Contemporary Design Tool


Class Policies

Grading 30% Labs
10% Milestone 1
15% Milestone 2
20% Milestone 3
25% Final Report and presentation
Late Policy Zero credit for anything handed in after it is due without explicit approval of the instructor.
Collaboration Policy Work in pairs on the labs. You may consult others, but do not copy files or data. You may collaborate with anybody on the project, but must cite sources if you use code.

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