Master Course Description for EE-478 (ABET sheet)

Title: Capstone Integrated Digital Design Projects

Credits: 5

UW Course Catalog Description:

Coordinator: Visvesh S. Sathe, Assistant Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering

Goals: The goals of this course are to provide:

  1. A strong grasp of the fundamentals of VLSI circuits and systems, with a particular emphasis in making connections between low-level concepts (power, delay, wire-parasitics, noise-margins) and high-level decisions (latency of data-movement, the case for heterogeneous computing and integrated voltage regulators).
  2. A strong grasp of planning, analysis, preparation, and execution of high-quality system designs.
  3. Developing the fundamentals for design for test, and standard verification techniques in design.

Learning Objectives: At the end of this course, students will be able to:

  1. Complete the physical design of a substantial digital system (e.g. a RISC processor) with enhancements that are either in circuit construction (dynamic logic, custom datapaths), architectural (microarchitectural enhancements such as out-of-order execution) or methodology driven (power-gating, clock gating, sub-threshold or near-threshold design).
  2. Understand and apply best-practices toward building digital systems in the areas of analysis, construction, and verification.  Support these design efforts through instruction of technical concepts in high-speed design, timing optimization, power management, clocking and timing analysis.
  3. Use industry standard design tools to design VLSI structures for custom and automated physical design, simulation and verification that complement lecture material.
  4. Work in teams to design a VLSI system targeted toward a real-world application. Team-based projects encourage effective team and project management in the context of a rigorous technical design experience.

Textbook: N. Weste & D. Harris, CMOS VLSI Design: A Circuits and Systems Perspective, 4th Ed., Addison-Wesley, 2010.

Prerequisites by Topic:

  1. Introduction to VLSI design (EE-476)
  2. Knowledge of ASIC design flows is strongly recommended (EE-477)


  1. Advanced logical effort, dynamic logic and high-speed logic families.
  2. Power management techniques
  3. Clocking : Basic generation techniques, distribution, performance analysis (skew/jitter)
  4. Low-voltage design for energy-efficiency (Delay, variability and energy-efficiency trade-offs)

Course Structure: There are 4 hours of lecture per week, plus 1 hour of discussion. The discussion will be used for student presentations of project progress, and tips-and-tricks for tool-flows needed to implement the digital IC projects.  A robust lab component is also involved consisting of a number of individual Computer Aided Design (CAD) projects leading up to a final team project that involves full-custom design of a real-world VLSI design problem. A significant portion of the learning in this course happens in the student design labs through peer interaction, and that with the TA who holds regular office hours in the design lab.

Computer Resources: The above mentioned VLSI CAD tools are set up on the department Linux servers for the students to use and managed by the CAD TA.

Laboratory: Students have access to the Sieg 118 computer lab, where they can work on the design projects.

Grading: CAD Assignments (20%), Project (60%), 2 Midterms (10% each).

ABET Student Outcome Coverage: This course addresses the following outcomes:

H = high relevance, M = medium relevance, L = low relevance to course.

(1) An ability to identify, formulate, and solve complex engineering problems by applying principles of engineering, science, and mathematics. (H) A major component of the course involves formulating multiple problems within the context of a broader system, and solving these problems across a range of abstractions from circuit, architectural to system. The need to implement cross-cutting optimizations is routinely emphasized in class and assessed through application in project hand calculations and planning. For each of the design projects, the student must analyze design requirements, then design, implement, and test the design, to verify its performance and characteristics.

(2) An ability to apply engineering design to produce solutions that meet specified needs with consideration of public health, safety, and welfare, as well as global, cultural, social, environmental, and economic factors. (M) In the final project, students are posed with a design problem and design specifications for a real-world application.

(3) An ability to communicate effectively with a range of audiences. (H) The team project involves a substantial number of man-hours of effort in planning, partitioning and execution. Communication will continue to play a key role in enabling effective teams. More formal communication of technical material is enabled through class project presentations.

(4) An ability to recognize ethical and professional responsibilities in engineering situations and make informed judgments, which must consider the impact of engineering solutions in global, economic, environmental, and societal contexts. (M) Understanding how to navigate between the lines of drawing upon ideas and learning from others, and plagiarism is one very important area that this class covers through its project experience.

(5) An ability to function effectively on a team whose members together provide leadership, create a collaborative and inclusive environment, establish goals, plan tasks, and meet objectives. (H) Team projects are a major component of this course, and seek to foster a collaborative, inclusive environment even in a competitive design situation. Students' effectiveness with social media will be leveraged to encourage discussions on the online discussion boards, incentivised by bonus credits.

(6) An ability to develop and conduct appropriate experimentation, analyze and interpret data, and use engineering judgment to draw conclusions. (H) The relatively open ended nature of the project facilitates experimentation and the use of engineering judgement to determine the best course of action.

(7) An ability to acquire and apply new knowledge as needed, using appropriate learning strategies. (H) The lectures and CAD assignments are co-designed to effectively train students to continually translate newly learned concepts into actual designs.

Prepared By: Visvesh S. Sathe

Last Revised: 5/25/2018