Embedded Systems using FPGA Assessment
1. Design task: Multifunction Digital Clock
Your assessment task for this module is to design, implement and test a multifunction digital clock.
The next laboratory session will give you time to work on your design with assistance from the
As in the previous labs you will use the PYNQ-Z2 as a platform for investigating and implementing
your embedded system design. You can choose the functions you wish to implement as long as
the following requirements are met:
● You must design and implement at least one peripheral of your own in VHDL.
● The software design must make use of at least one interrupt.
● You may use a suitable display (using HDMI connectivity or OLED panel) for the clock.
● You may make use of various pushbutton switches, DIP switches and LEDs that are
available on the PYNQ-Z2, to create a user-friendly device. If you use any of the
pushbutton switches, adequate precautions need to be taken in order to avoid switch
● You may use an operating system if you wish.
● You may use the Processor System in the Zynq for your design.
● Any of the other features available on the development board may be used.
● You may use the buzzer unit provided to you.
● Your system may boot from an SD card
2. Specification ideas
Digital clock main functions:
● Display current time
● Alarm facility
● Selectable 12/24 hour display
● Display hours/minutes/seconds
● Alarm set/not set
● Set time
● Alarm with ‘Snooze’ function
● Low power sleep function
● Start stopwatch
● Stop stopwatch
● Clear stopwatch
● Set time (hours, minutes and seconds)
● Start timer
● Indicate visually and audibly the end of the set time period
3. Your design task
From the specification ideas in Section 2, choose the functions you wish to design and
implement. The number of functions you choose and their complexity will be entirely up to you.
Choose your functions wisely: You should initially be conservative in the number of functions you
choose and their associated complexity. It is better to submit a working, completed result rather
than lots of partially designed fragments. You will be able to add more functions to your design
choice at a later date if time permits.
If you feel that the list given in Section 2 is lacking some functionality that you want to include
then you are welcome to add them into your final design.
This design task will form part of your overall module assessment in two ways:
1. You will be expected to give a pre-recorded presentation on your design in week 10. Your
design should be well developed by then, but the implementation does not have to be
completed and working. You should submit a zip file containing the pre-recorded
presentation and slides
2. You will also submit a formal report on your completed design to the VLE assessment
submission point at the beginning of next term. Further details of the report and
presentation are provided below in sections 5 and 6.
4.1 Resources and Hints
● You may find that the schematic for the PYNQ-Z2 is useful. You can find this, along with
other support materials at:
● Try to design a product, rather than simply choosing a list of features to implement. What
will your device do?
● You may make use of existing Xilinx IP cores if you like.
● Marks will be awarded for careful, well-justified design decisions. Break your features
down into requirements on individual tasks, then think carefully about which of your
features you will implement in hardware, and which in software. Does your selection of
software tasks justify using an operating system? In software, is the CPU used wisely (by
using interrupts, for example) or is much of its power wasted by waiting in polling loops or
4.2 Academic conduct
● This is an individual assignment; you MUST work on your own. You are welcome to consult
any sources of information you can find as long as you provide appropriate reference and
attribution to the authors. If you use code written by anybody else (including your lecturers)
you must make it clear which part is yours and which has been written by the other person.
You should make this clear both in your report and in the code itself.
● Please note that MSc students are required to complete the academic integrity tutorial
● If the rules on what constitutes correct academic conduct are not clear, please consult
section 5.7 of the university rules and regulations here: 5.7 Academic misconduct. The
department guidance on plagiarism can also be found here: Electronics plagiarism page.
NOTE: The assessors reserve the right to viva students on their submissions.
4.3 Submission of reports
Report submission will be electronic via the VLE in two parts:
1. A PDF report (no more than 1500 words).
2. A zip file containing the complete Xilinx Vivado project ready for the assessor to open in
Vivado 2017.4 and tested on a PYNQ-Z2 development board. This should also include
the boot image (if the system can be booted from an SD card) so that the assessor can
test your design. It is highly recommended that, prior to submitting, you unzip your zip file
and see if your project can be opened using relevant software and implemented on a
PYNQ-Z2. Please note that there is a mark allocation for the quality and the functionality
of the project files you submit along with the report under the “Technical Merit” attribute
(see section 5).
PLEASE NOTE: Anonymised marking - use your exam number only
Marking will be done anonymously so DO NOT put your name on or in any of the submission
parts. Instead, your report, code comments and filenames should identify you using your exam
5. Laboratory report details
You are expected to submit a short formal technical report related to the design work you have
undertaken on the digital clock task.
Aims and objectives
The principal aim of this technical report is to enable you to further develop your communication
skills in the practice of formal technical report writing and to assess your learning from this module.
It is vital that you remember the purpose and learning outcomes of this module when writing your
report. You should present your design decisions logically and clearly.
Content of the report
The report needs to be clear, concise and to the point. As a minimum it should include:
● A description of the functions designed
● A detailed specification of the functions designed
● How the functions relate to the complete digital clock system
● Details of the design decisions you made
● What resources you used
● How you tested your design
● Any problems you encountered
● A user guide for your product, no more than a page in the appendix
Format of the report
This is a formal report so it should include:
● Contents page
● An introduction
● The main body of the report, suitably structured
Your report should be no longer than 2000 words excluding the appendix.
Indicative mark scheme
Technical merit 60%
The report is worth 70% of your module mark.
6. Presentation details
In week 10 of the Spring term, you will be required to submit a pre-recorded short presentation
along with the slides related to your functional design work associated with the digital clock
Duration: 5 minutes.
Method: PowerPoint slides or equivalent.
You may use a suitable tool to capture the slides and voice. You can contact the module
coordinator Ruwan Gajaweera (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you require to arrange a Zoom
session which will allow you to record your presentation. Alternatively, you can use PowerPoint if
you have a latest version. If you have any issues with recording the presentation, you are advised
to contact the module coordinator immediately.
As a minimum you should provide details of the device you have designed, particulars of the
resources you have used (for example processors and peripherals), an overview of your software
and hardware design process, and information about any problems you have encountered.
We won’t be expecting you to have completed the implementation of your design, but we will
expect you to have completed your hardware and software designs, and started the
Make sure your presentation has a clear introduction and conclusion, that you use your slides
effectively, that the technical content is appropriate and accurate, and that it is the right length.
This assessment is worth 30% of your overall module mark, and your presentation will be marked
by the module coordinator.
Slide design and layout 10%
Presentation structure 10%
Design features 30%
Technical content 30%
Preparation 10% 学霸联盟