Advanced Digital Design Lab (WS 2021)

This lab course is complementary to the VU Advanced Digital Design.

General Information about the Course

This lab complements the lecture and exercises of the course VU Advanced Digital Design by practical (FPGA) design exercises that give the student first experience with asynchronous design in practice.


the following competences shall be conveyed:

  • practically apply the knowledge obtained from the associated lecture
  • practically apply the relevant design methods
  • correctly respect the limitations of the chosen method in a practical application


contents of the associated lecture (182.755)


Dipl.-Ing. Dr.techn. Steininger Andreas


This course will be held, if possible, in a hybrid form, whereat presentations are planned to be in presence while the actual lab heavily uses distance learning technologies. This does, however, not mean that you have to work completely on your own. Since we know how important it is to get in touch with the lecturers we provide several ways you can approach us:

  • For questions use the TU Chat Channel (link in this TUWEL course). Clearly this channel is not solely reserved for student-lecturer communication so feel free to use it for further discussions as well.
  • In some situations talking is much more fruitful than typing. Therefore we also offer a weekly Zoom conferences on t.b.d . If you want to speak to a lecturer extraordinarily state your demand in the TU Chat Channel and we will then schedule a meeting with you (and your group) in person or remote.

Throughout this course you will work on two different designs, i.e., develop and download them to an FPGA. For this purpose you will get a TILab account where our regular tools (Questa, Quartus) are available. Note: If you connect using ssh -XC application started on the remote PC will show up including the GUI on your screen. It is also possible to download free versions of these tools from the web pages of the respective developers. For downloading your design to the FPGA we provide two possibilities:

  • TIsdanceLab: This system we install in the TILab allows to exclusively reserve a lab PC, which is connected to an FPGA, download your solution and observe the behavior via an attached web cam. The respective TIsdanceLab manual is available in the TUWEL course. We advise you to come prepared (fully compiled .sof file) since the available slots are time limited (multiple lectures will share the resources).
  • Borrow Development Boards: It is also possible to borrow one development board per group for the duration of the winter term. If you are interested contact the lecture staff on the TU Chat Channel.

Although we have a highly evolved remote setup you are required to make measurements with an oscilloscope/logic analyzer. We regard this a highly necessary task since only in this way it is possible to fully experience and understand the glitches in the design. At the moment the measurements are solely possible in person in Room 1 of the TILab. In TISS you can register for 5 groups, whereat each group has unlimited access to the lab on one day per week. Note that a registration in TUWEL does not automatically register you in TISS, nor the other way around! TISS and TUWEL groups thus do not necessarily have to coincide, however, it might be a good idea to do so. We want to strengthen on this occasion that only the persons registered in TISS for the respective group are allowed to enter the lab on a specific date. This is assured by blocking the access to the lab for everyone else.

After you are done with your implementation you have to present your work in class to all other groups. In addition you have to schedule an appointment with the teaching staff to discuss your solution in greater detail. The purpose of this exercise is to prepare you for the ever increasing demand of proper selling. Being it on a conference, where you thrive to keep the attention of the audience, at work to convince your boss/coworker of your idea or for selling your product. Custom tailored presentations are a major key whereat you should consider the following guidelines:

  • The talk length is strictly limited to 20 min.
  • Every member of the group should talk in (equal) parts. Naturally this screams for splitting the task and making separate mini-presentations. However, you can only benefit from your colleagues if you work jointly. Therefore we highly encourage collaboration instead of cooperation.
  • Assume the talk to take place at a conference, thus your audience is familiar with the overall topic but not your specific implementation.
  • Choose your content wisely. Too much will overwhelm the audience. You are not demanded to present every little detail, this can also be done in the follow-up presentation to the teaching staff.
  • Keep a clear structure in your talk. You may want to follow the order of the subtasks in the assignments but you do not have to. For the audience grasping new stuff is easier when it is connected to things that are already known. If possible use such attachment points.
  • Design your slides properly. In this regard less is more. How much text is optimal often depends on who you ask. Some demand more to also capture people that are not listening while others propose a maximum word count of 20 per slide. Overall you should avoid full sentences, make pictures well readable and focus on the message you want to send.
  • The arguably hardest part is the talking itself. Try to speak slowly, maybe even slower than you anticipate. Making pauses is not always a bad thing but gives the audience some time to process the information just heard.
  • Try to convince the audience that your investigations are sound and your solution is appropriate. Therefore properly present your gathered data and explain them. Tell the listeners what conclusion you drew from your observations, how you tackled them and maybe present an evaluation of your solution.

To make listening to some known content more interesting for the remaining groups each of them has to evaluate one specific property of the talk itself and provide a written analysis latest one week after the talk. These documents are not forwarded directly to the presenting group but are checked by the lecture team, which then forwards a comprehensive feedback for the talk. This does not only give every participant a broader feedback but also shall teach how to properly give feedback. Consider in your writeup:

  • Be friendly! Do not insult anyone. This is best done by not addressing the authors themselves but phrase more like "In our opinion ...", "We had the impression ..." or "We recommend to ..."
  • Concentrate on the facts and reason about your criticism. What was done well and what not so? Give examples! Instead of "We did not understand anything!" better formulate "It was hard to follow since speaker #2 spoke very rapidly."
  • Provide a pathway for improvements. Here you can also include methods or literature that helped you. Try to improve the knowledge of your colleagues with your analysis.

Regarding the topics of analysis the following are possible:

  • Content: Was the amount chosen appropriately overall and per Slide? Based on your limited previous knowledge was it possible to grasp the purpose of the task?
  • Structure: Was there a good introduction, a understandable coverage of the problem / solution and a suitable ending?
  • Presentation: How was the slide design? Was everything well readable? Were you able to listen and read at the same time?
  • Rhetoric: Was it possible to follow the explanations of the speakers?
  • (Implementation: Were you convinced of the proposed solution?)

Overall two designs have to be worked on: One will be due before Christmas and the other at the end of the semester. The grade is accumulated in the following shares:

  1. 70 % your implementations of the assignments
  2. 20 % presentation of your solutions
  3. 10 % analysis of other group's presentations

Use the chance to provide for each assignment concrete feedback. This helps us to improve the lectures and is very much appreciated.