EECS 373: Design of Microprocessor-Based Systems


Course Administrivia

  EECS 373, Fall 2010, 4 Units, CN: 11181
Instructional Staff:
  Prabal Dutta (Instructor)
  Thomas Schmid (Instructor)
  Matt Smith (Lab Instructor)
  Ye-Sheng Kuo (GSI)
Question Board:
Lab Bug Website:
  Google Doc
  1690 CSE, TuTh: 10:30 AM - 12:00 PM
  2334 EECS

Course Description

This class is focused on the principles and practices of modern embedded systems design. In class, we will focus on computer architecture beyond the CPU, fundamentals of the hardware/software interface, techniques for sensing and controlling the physical world, and a few other topics. In lab, we will focus on the ARM Cortex-M3, Actel FPGAs, and other supporting hardware, to learn how to design, build, and program embedded systems. Labs during the first half of the course will focus on essential topics. The second half of the course will focus on the design and implementation of non-trivial, open-ended project involving both hardware and software. The labs and project will require a substantial amount of time -- this is a lab-intensive class with a heavy workload.

Syllabus (Tentative)

Class Date Lecture Speaker(s) Lab
ARM System Architecture
1 Sep 7 Introduction, Architecture (PPT) Dutta Lab 1: FPGA + Hardware Tools
2 Sep 9 Architecture, Assembly (PPT) Dutta
3 Sep 14 ISA, Assembly, Toolchains (PPT) Dutta Lab 2: MCU + Software Tools
4 Sep 16 Memory and I/O Architecture (PPT) Dutta
5 Sep 21 Memory/Peripheral Bus: AMBA (PPT) Dutta Lab 3: Memory and Memory-Mapped I/O
6 Sep 23 Memory-Mapped Peripherals (PPT) Dutta
7 Sep 28 Interrupts, ARM NVIC (PDF, PDF 4-up) Schmid Lab 4: Interrupts
8 Sep 30 Timers (PDF, PDF 4-up) Schmid
Peripheral Interfacing
9 Oct 5 Memory Technologies (PPT) Dutta Lab 5: Timers and Counters
10 Oct 7 Serial busses: UART, SPI, and I2C (PPT) Dutta
11 Oct 12 ADCs/DACs (PPT) Dutta Lab 6: Serial Bus Interfacing
12 Oct 14 Wireless Communications (PDF, PDF 4-up) Schmid
13 Oct 19 NO LECTURE: Fall Study Break   NO LAB: Fall Study Break
14 Oct 21 Midterm 1  
15 Oct 26 PCB Design and Fabrication Dutta Lab 7: Data Converters
16 Oct 28 Project Overview (PDF) Smith
17 Nov 2 NO LECTURE: Project Meetings   Lab 8: Wireless Communications
18 Nov 4
19 Nov 9 NO LECTURE: Project Meetings   Projects
20 Nov 11 NO LECTURE: Meet in EECS 2334 Smith
21 Nov 16 ARM Cortex-M0 and LPCXpresso (PDF) Pannuto Projects
22 Nov 18 ARM Guest Lecture (PDF) Ali Saidi
23 Nov 23 Potpourri, Exams, and Review Dutta Projects
  Nov 25 NO LECTURE: Thanksgiving Break   NO LAB: Thanksgiving Break
24 Nov 30 NO LECTURE   Projects
25 Dec 2
26 Dec 7 NO LECTURE   Projects
27 Dec 9
28 Dec 17 Poster Session: 1:30pm - 3:30pm
Final Exam Due: 1:30pm


The curricular prequisites for this class include EECS 270 (Introduction to Logic Design), EECS 280 (Programming and Introductory Data Structures), and EECS 370 (Introduction to Computer Organization). The course bulletin outlines the contents of these courses. In general, students are expected to have a firm grasp on combinational and sequential logic design, be familiar with assembly language programming (for some architecture), be proficient in C programming, and know theirway around the elements of a computer. In addition, success in this course will require substantial reading and hacking, and students will need a high degree of patience and determination.


Honor Code. The Engineering Honor Code applies to all assignments and exams.

Learn Concepts Together through Discussion. Verbal collaboration between members of different groups is permitted for the purpose of helping classmates to understand concepts essential to the labs or providing one another with insights into the best way to approach the in-lab assignments.

Do Your Own Work. Individual assignments (e.g., prelabs, homeworks, and exams) are to be performed on your own. Group assignments (e.g., labs, lab reports, and postlabs) are to be performed only by members of the group. Non-verbal collaboration (e.g. drawing sample schematics on paper or the whiteboard, sharing schematics or code) is not allowed. You may not help debug another group's hardware or software without consent from the lab or course instructor. You are also not allowed to possess, look at, use, or in any way derive advantage from the existence of code, lab reports, or other material prepared in prior years.

Attend Your Registered Lab. You are expected to attend the lab section for which you are registered. If you would like to switch lab sections, but the section you want is full, you must find someone in that lab section to swap positions with you. Once you have agreed on a swap, send email to Matt Smith. All section swaps must be completed before the second week of lab.

Prelabs. Prelabs are due in lab during the week the lab is to start. All prelabs must be turned in within the 20 minutes after the offical start of lab (on the half hour) (to allow for tardiness, printing problems, etc.) or you will only get 50% of the credit otherwise earned. Prelabs more than one week late will earn no credit. For any labs which span multiple weeks, the prelab is due during the first week of that lab. Prelabs are to be done individually unless otherwise specified in the lab itself.

Postlabs. Postlabs are due in lab the week after the last week of that lab. They are due 20 minutes after the start of that lab period. Just like prelabs, late labs earn only 50% of the credit otherwise earned and postlabs which are more than one week late get no credit. Postlabs are to be done by the group unless otherwise specified in the lab itself.

In-Labs.In-labs are due by Friday of the last week of the lab in open lab hours (you are welcome to turn it in before this and most students do). One of the lab instructors must sign your in-lab form by that time for the in-lab to be on time. You should hand in the signed (and dated) in-lab form with your postlab. Late in-labs lose 10% of their value per business day (Monday though Friday not including holidays) they are late. You may only work with your lab group (generally one other person) on your in-lab.


Item Weight Description
Labs 25% Eight labs: Lab 3 (4%); All other labs (3%).
Project 25% Group project demonstrating understanding of major topics.
Exams 25% Two exams: Midterm (10%); Final (15%).
Quizzes 10% Approximately seven 1-minute quizzes given at random (coin-flip).
Homework 10% Two or three homework assignments weighted roughly equally.
Presentation 5% Group presentation on a special topic to the class.


  1. ARMv7 Architecture Reference Manual
  2. ARM Cortex-M3 Technical Reference Manual v2.1
  3. ARM and Thumb-2 Instruction Set Quick Reference Card
  4. ARM Architecture Procedure Call Standard (EABI)
  5. ARM Cortex-M3 Embedded Software Development (AN-179)

  6. Actel SmartFusion MSS User Guide
  7. Actel SmartFusion Analog User Guide
  8. Actel A2F Eval Kit User Guide

  9. CodeSourcery Getting Started
  10. GNU Assembler
  11. GNU Compiler
  12. GNU Linker
  13. GNU Debugger
  14. GNU Binary Utilities


This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under grant #0964120. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.
This course and lab use hardware and software provided by Actel Corporation, including the SmartFusion MCU+FPGA development boards and the Libero Gold and Platinum software development tools.
This course and lab use hardware and software provided by Cypress Semiconductor, including the PSoC 5 First Touch Starter Kits and Development Kits.
This course and lab use hardware and software provided by Microsoft Corporation, including Windows Mobile phones and the Microsoft Research Project Hawaii toolkit.