ESE 366: Design using Programmable Mixed-Signal Systems-on-Chip

(Mixed-Signal Systems on Chip)

Instructor: Alex Doboli, PhD

Spring 2007


Acknowledgements: We wish to thank Cypress Semiconductor Corporation for generously donating the equipment used in the laboratory activities of this course. We also acknowledge the continuous support and help received from Mr. G. Saul, Mr. D. Van Ess and Dr. E. Currie in developing the teaching and laboratory material used in this course.       


Number of credits


Student audience




Covered topics

Laboratory activities




Goal. This course focuses on the development of mixed-signal embedded applications that utilize Systems On Chip (SoC) technology. The course discusses design issues, including (i) implementing new functionality, (ii) new interfacing capabilities, and (iii) improving performance through programming the embedded microcontroller and customizing the reconfigurable analog and digital hardware of the SoC.

Additional information about the course as well as the course material will be available  to Stony Brook students on Blackboard.  


Number of credits: 4 credits (lectures + lab)

Motivation. Designing embedded systems from concept to working prototype requires a set of skills that not all graduate engineers have developed during their academic training. And many engineers do not have the skills to design complete systems that involve digital, analog, and microcontroller components. This course is intended to provide students with the basic skills and knowledge required for embedded system design that involve analog, digital, and microcontroller technology all integrated on a single chip.

Graduate electrical and computer engineers are increasingly expected to create designs based on mixed-signal technology. These applications require a comprehensive understanding of system design, performance trade-off analysis, and verification across analog, digital, and software domains.  This has a arisen, in part, as a result of the fact that mixed-signal SoC technology has rapidly evolved, in recent years, making it possible to incorporate programmable analog, digital circuits and CPU cores, memory, and I/Os, all on a single chip. Programmable SoCs can be quickly customized, and at low cost, to implement new and/or enhanced functionality and performance requirements. Market studies suggest that currently,  60% of all embedded systems involve mixed-signal technology. By 2011, 25%+ of the entire semiconductor market will involve mixed-signal technology.

Six reasons why SBU CE/EE students should take the course:

  • This course provides an excellent opportunity for students to develop in-depth "systems" skills that will serve them well throughout their career. It is designed to prepare students with the necessary skills required for the design of complete embedded systems and not just a part of a system.

  • Comprehensive presentation of embedded system design, including co-design of the related hardware (digital and analog circuits) and software (firmware, ISR).

  • Detailed discussion on using reconfigurable digital circuits for building application-customized digital hardware. Such hardware can often  substantially improve system performance and be used to optimize interfacing.

  • Development of interrupt service routines and firmware routines used in embedded designs are covered in detail and equip students to better handle real time applications.

  • In-depth discussion of using programmable (reconfigurable) analog circuits for building the analog front-end of embedded systems (analog to digital converters, amplifiers, and filters) prepare students to create complete embedded systems.. Reconfiguration reduces cost, component count, power requirements/ dissipation, minimizes hardware volume, simplifies manufacturing, etc.

  • This course serves to integrate much of your previous course work by emphasizing embedded "SYSTEM" design and incorporating analog, digital and microcontroller technology in a mixed-signal, embedded solution space. Hands-on development of a number of mixed-signal embedded systems: (1) reconfigurable vending machine controller/modem system, (2) DS ADC, and (3) temperature control system. 

Student audience: Senior EE and CE undergraduates. Before registering, juniors should consult first the instructor.


Textbooks and other material: The course uses the material developed by Dr. Doboli. Other required material will be offered in class, or will be available through Blackboard.


Prerequisites: ESE 380, ESE 372, and ESE 224 or CSE230. In special cases, the prerequisites can be waived by the instructor.

Objectives: At the end of the course, students will possess comprehensive theoretical and applied  knowledge and design skills related to three main aspects:

  • Utilization of a combination of analog and digital modules, as well as, writing software drivers for interfacing new devices. 

  • System-level design including specification, profiling, debugging, and trade-off exploration/optimization for mapping the system behavior to specific building blocks.

  • Architecture customization (through analog and digital dynamic reconfiguration) for implementing new functionality and obtaining better performance is also treated.

Covered topics

1. Introduction. Types of embedded applications, including a simple illustrative example of a mixed-signal embedded system. Importance of performance requirements (cost, speed, power, accuracy). Examples of embedded architectures. Top-down design flow (successive design refinement) i.e., successive design refinement.

2. Mixed-signal embedded SoC architectures. Mixed-signal SoC architectures. Microcontroller core. Instruction set. RAM and flash memory system. I/Os. System buses. Interrupt subsystem. Interrupt Service Routine (ISR). Boot program

3. Digital subsystem. Performance improvement through architecture customization. Profiling. Performance profiling. Performance estimation. Application-specific hardware. PSoC programmable digital building blocks (timers, counters, CRC generator, PWM). Dynamic reconfiguration.

4. Communication sub-system. Data communication in embedded systems. Serial communication using SPI and UART. 

5. Switched-capacitor analog building blocks. Basics of switched capacitor analog circuits. Presentation of basic building blocks, i.e., ideal op amps, comparators, gain stages, integrators, etc.  Application of Switch-Capacitor circuits.  

6. DS Analog to digital converters. Basics of Delta-Sigma converters (DS). Sampling. Quantization. Oversampling. Noiseshaping. Performance of DS ADC. First-order DS ADC. Second-order DS ADC. Implementation using PSoC. Impact of circuit nonidealities on ADC performance.

7. System level design and trade-off analysis. System performance modeling. Trade-off analysis including cost, speed, power/energy consumption, number of pins, etc. System optimization.

9. Laboratory

The laboratory is based on 12 lab sessions of 3 hours each. Lab activities will be based on the PSoC Eval 1 development board from Cypress Semiconductors. PSoC is a mixed-signal SoC including 8 bit microcontroller, on-chip flash/RAM memory, reconfigurable analog and digital array, and other blocks used in embedded applications. 

Lab activities include:

  • Lab 1:  Introduction to PSoC. Demo of PSoC in an embedded application.

  • Lab 2:  Design of a networked vending machine system. (SoC dynamically reconfigured
                to perform functionality of vending machine and modem for communication).

  • Lab 3:   Implementation of the vending machine functionality.

  • Lab 4:   Implementation of the modem.

  • Lab 5:   Putting everything together.

  • Lab 6:   Putting everything together.

  • Lab 7:   An Acoustic detector system design and simulation.

  • Lab 8:   Implementation of analog filters

  • Lab 9:   Implementation of a 2nd order DS ADC

  • Lab 10: Implementation of a 2nd order DS ADC (Continued)

  • Lab 11: Putting everything together.

  • Lab 12: Putting everything together.