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ECEN 449: Microprocessor System Design

 Spring 2012

    Paul V. Gratz
    Phone: 979-488-4551
    Office: WERC 333D

Class Hours (Zachry 223c
    Monday, Wednesday 11:30 am-12:20 pm

Lab Hours (Zachry 115D):
    Sect 501: Tuesday, 12:40 pm-02:30 pm
    Sect 502: Friday,  12:30 pm-02:20 pm

Instructor Office hours (WERC 333D): 
    Scheduled on Demand (typically 2p-3p, M and W, please click link to schedule time to meet me)

Class Room:
    223A Zachry

Graduate Assistant (Office hours held in Zachry 115D):
    Andrew Targhetta (atarghe1 at neo dot tamu dot edu)
    Office hours: Wednesday,  3:30p - 5:00p

Mailing List:

Required Course Book:
    There is no required book for this class.  I recommend you downloading and reviewing the material listed in resources below.


Course Objective:
  • The goal of this course is to provide the student with an in-depth knowledge of digital circuit design using an embedded platform as an implementation method. We will cover hardware and software co-design, using a commercial FPGA and a soft-core, ip-block microprocessor.
  • At the end of the course the student should be able to view the design of digital systems from a embedded hardware/software perspective and obtain a set of fundamental concepts and design skills that can be applied to a wide variety of digital design problems.
Class Notes:

Grading policy:
  • Homeworks 15%.
    • Homework assignments will generally be given one week for completion.  
      • You are required to turn in your solutions electronically by 11:59pm of the due data using the elearning system. 
    • Verilog or C code in any homework should be turned in with your solution as separate files in the elearning submission.
    • Submissions should be formatted as a PDF file.
      • Any Verilog or C code should be in-lined into the PDF.
      • Word doc files not acceptable.  
    • No credit will be given for late homework.
  • Lab 45%.
    • Labs will be completed in pairs. The TA will provide random lab partner assignments at the beginning of each lab. 
    • Lab reports for week i should be turned in at the start of the lab of week i+1.  
      • Lab reports must be turned in individually through the elearning system.
      • Late reports will lose 20% credit after the initial deadline and may not be submitted after the week i+2.
      • Reports should be submitted as a PDF file.
        • Code (Verilog or C) should be in-lined into the pdf of the report.   
        • For full credit, you should include comments in any code (Verilog or C).
      • Word doc files not acceptable.  
    • Because you will be working with a randomly assigned partner, attendance is mandatory, and will be taken at the beginning of lab.  
      • Any student with an unexcused absence at the beginning of a lab session will receive no credit at all for the lab session (and will not be assigned a partner).
      • Excused absences will be dealt with on a case by case basis, please contact the instructor and TA as soon as you know you will need an excused absence.
  • Test1 (2 hours) 20%, Test2 (2 hours) 20%.
    • Both tests will be open notes, and may have lab related questions
    • Test 1 will be held Week 8 (Time TBA). Location TBA. Extended office hours TBA. 
    • Test 2 will be held during normal class time on 4/30.  Extended office hours TBA.
  • ECEN449 will be graded on a curve.  Graduate and Undergraduate grades will be curved separately.
Important Logistical Issues:
  • As indicated in the first week of class, you are responsible for reading this page and familiarizing yourself with the information on it.
  • Lab Safety: The first day of class all students will receive a copy of the Laboratory Safety Basic Student Guidelines sheet.  Each student must fill out the last page, and return it to the department, before he or she, is permitted to attend the first laboratory session for the course.  Students will also be informed of the evacuation procedures and paths, from the classroom to the outside of the building, across the street, in the event the emergency alarm system is tripped during a class period.  Evacuation floor plans are posted through out the building.  TA’s in their laboratories will have further safety instructions. 
  • Excused absences: Rules concerning excused absences may be found at In particular, except for absences due to religious obligations, the student must notify his or her instructor in writing (acknowledged e-mail message is acceptable) prior to the date of absence if such notification is feasible. In cases where advance notification is not feasible (e.g., accident, or emergency) the student must provide notification by the end of the second working day after the absence. This notification should include an explanation of why notice could not be sent prior to the class. If the absence is excused, the instructor must either provide the student with an opportunity to make up any quiz, exam or other graded activities or provide a satisfactory alternative to be completed within 30 calendar days from the last day of the absence.
  • Days of religious observance: By state law, if a student misses class due to an obligation of his or her religion, the absence is excused. A list of days of religious obligation for the coming semester may be found at
  • Disruptive behavior: If a student's behavior in class is sufficiently disruptive to warrant immediate action, the instructor is entitled to remove a student on an interim basis, pending an informal hearing with the Head of the Department offering the course. This hearing must take place within three working days of the student's removal. This rule and supporting information may be found at
  • Accommodations for students with disabilities: It is the responsibility of the student to provide instructors with documentation showing they have registered with Disability Services and requested accommodation. Instructors then have the responsibility to work with Disability Services to provide reasonable accommodations. If a student who has not registered with Disability Services requests an accommodation, they should be referred to Disability Services at .
  • Email Policy: Please remember that email will be used as an official means of communicating class information to you. You should make sure that the email address that is on file in Howdy is a current and functioning address. In case of any changes in your email address, please fix it in the system ASAP as you are responsible to be aware of any and all email sent to the course section email lists.
  • Academic Honesty: Remember that plagiarism will not be tolerated and will be dealt with under the Aggie Honor System Office guidelines. Upon discovering a suspected violation of the Aggie Honor code, I will contact the Aggie Honor System office
Course Calendar:

ECEN 449 Spring 2012