Computer Laboratory

Course pages 2015–16

ECAD and Architecture Practical Classes


The ECAD and Architecture Laboratory sessions are a companion to the Computer Design course. The objective is to provide experience of hardware design for FPGA including use of a small embedded processor.

Laboratory sessions are timetabled for Tuesday and Friday afternoons. You will sign up for either Tuesday or Friday and you should stick to your slot – we do not have enough capacity to handle more than half the class on a given day . Laboratory sessions are times when you can get expert help and have your work assessed; this is not necessarily the time when you need to complete the work since you can work in other locations. We will allocate hardware to students for the duration of the laboratory sessions (i.e. you get your own kit).

This year we are using new hardware and have new laboratory sessions too. The new hardware will only become available part way through Michaelmas term, and we will issue it when you have completed Tick 1. Please be patient of bugs in the new laboratories and the creators (Simon Moore and Theo Markettos) appreciate constructive feedback.


There are two ticked exercises with each exercise broken up into smaller, more manageable chunks. Ticks are awarded after demonstrating a working system to a laboratory assessor, and will be awarded during lab time (i.e. until the end of Week 8). Even if you work at home, you will still need to attend some lab sessions for ticking and for demonstrator help: do not assume you can complete the tick work entirely on your own. Speak to a demonstrator if you are having difficulties with the ticked material.

Code created must be submitted as a portfolio of work by early Lent term (see the Head of Department Notices for the definitive date).

Laboratory Exercises

If you have a suitable laptop we strongly recommend using the ECAD tools in a virtual machine, which will enable you to complete the labs in less time than using the computers in the Intel Lab. Follow the pre-lab setup guide before you arrive for your first session to ensure you have downloaded and configured the virtual machine.

  • Exercise 0: SystemVerilog web tutor - learn more about SystemVerilog by completing all of our web tutor before starting ticked laboratory sessions.
  • Exercise 1: Inputs to the DE1-SoC board - write SystemVerilog to interact with physical inputs to the FPGA and test in simulation.
  • Exercise 2: The Yarvi RISC-V processor
  • Exercise 3: Etch-A-Sketch on the Yarvi in simulation
  • Exercise 4: Introduction to FPGA synthesis and the Altera Quartus II tools
  • Exercise 5: Etch-A-Sketch in hardware on the FPGA

Laboratory Signup

Sign-up for the ECAD+Arch Laboratories at the first Computer Design lecture.