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A processor design toolkit for an open-source FPGA toolchain

Supervisor

Suitable for

Computer Science, Part B
Mathematics and Computer Science, Part C
Computer Science and Philosophy, Part C
Computer Science, Part C

Abstract

Field-programmable gate arrays (FPGA) are integrated circuits that can be configured after manufacture into almost any conceivable logic circuit combining both combinatorial and synchronous elements. They can be used to explore real hardware implementations of processor designs from simple accumulator machines, through to register machines, and more unusual stack machines. Their use outside industry has previously been limited due to the high cost and complexity of their associated development software. However, this is changing, with an open-source toolchain for popular FPGA devises becoming available in the last years. In this project, you will build on this toolchain to develop the additional software necessary to allow students to design and explore simple processor designs on a custom FPGA development board. The current toolchain requires the use of the Verilog hardware description language. Verilog is very powerful but also very general. This project will develop a high-level language (possibly a graphical language) focused on the development of simple processor designs from a small number of standard components (such as RAM, multiplexers and registers).

Prerequisites: Digital Systems, Compilers & Computer Architecture useful but not essential