COMP_ENG 392: VLSI Systems Design Projects

Quarter Offered

Spring : MW 3:30-4:50 ; Zaretsky


COMP_ENG 355 or COMP_ENG 391


Design of a cutting-edge VLSI chip. Teams of 5 to 10 students undertake a large circuit design problem, going from specification to VLSI implementation while optimizing for speed, area, and/or power. Group collaboration and engineering design.



COURSE INSTRUCTOR: David C. Zaretsky (

COURSE COORDINATOR: Prof. Alok Choudhary

COURSE GOALS: Students should become familiar with the technical and non-technical aspects of complex, group engineering design projects, focused on the VLSI/CAD domain. Students should learn VHDL, synthesis concepts, FPGA concepts, and design library techniques. Students will learn how to take a set of project requirements and develop an implementation meeting these goals. They will also learn how to present technical information, both in oral and written form. Finally, they will learn how to collaborate on a complex, group project.


  1. Fundamentals of logic design.
  2. VLSI layout techniques.
  3. Area and speed optimizations in CMOS.
  4. The use of CAD tools for VLSI layout.

DETAILED COURSE TOPICS: During the first week of class students select projects and form project groups. During subsequent weeks students give oral reports in class on their progress, culminating in a final project review. Advanced topic areas relevant to that quarter's projects will also be presented to the students during class as necessary. Students are expected to produce an initial project plan, a mid-quarter status report, and a final project report describing the entire project effort.

COMPUTER USAGE: Students will typically require the use of VLSI CAD tools on Unix or PC platforms, primarily focused around the Mentor Graphics toolsuite. Specific computer usage requirements vary based upon the projects selected by the students.

LABORATORY PROJECTS: All students will pursue a complex, group engineering design project, focused around VLSI/CAD applications. Project details vary based upon student and instructor interests.

GRADES: Grading is based upon the following factors

  • In-class presentations
  • Status reports and final project report
  • Technical competency in pursuing project goals
  • Proficiency in collaboration, as measured by overall project integration and success.

Note that the exact grading criteria must be tailored to the specific projects chosen, and thus cannot be set for the course as a whole.

COURSE OBJECTIVES: When a student completes this course, s/he should be able to:

  1. Integrate into a group environment to pursue technical goals.
  2. Present technical material in both oral and written form.
  3. Plan a design effort from specification to implementation.
  4. Make design tradeoffs to optimize for potentially conflicting goals.
  5. Effectively manage their time on complex projects.

ABET CONTENT CATEGORY: 100% Engineering (Design component).