Digital Design at its best: Arvind's 6.375 receives rave reviews in EE Times

July 28, 2011

A recent Design article in the EE Times (see the Xcell Journal), gives rave reviews of Arvind's 6.375. "MIT Professor uses ESL tools and FPGAs to teach system architecture" by Clive Maxfield, July 27, 2011.

Welcome to 6.375
"I recently heard about a course called 6.375 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). It seems this course is changing the playing field when it comes to teaching digital design. In particular, a key focus of 6.375 is the use of architectural exploration to home in on optimal designs. The thing that really intrigued me is that the course is a mere 13 weeks long, of which the students have only six weeks to design, implement and verify their final projects. But these projects are of a complexity that would bring grizzled, practicing engineers to their knees, so how can this be possible?"

Over its seven years of development, Arvind has modified 6.375 from using ASICs in the first few years to switching to FPGAs (the curriculum largely ignores the special properties of FPGAs and concentrates on straightforward RTL design), in the belief that having physical realizations of their designs would be significantly more exciting for the students. Another big consideration has been that software simulation takes so long and runs out of steam when it comes to the tremendous amount of vectors required to fully test today’s complex projects.

Today, the course – drawing a mix of computer science and electrical engineering majors – features the combination of an ESL design and verification environment coupled with a state-of-the-art FPGA development system from Xilinx that was designed with universities in mind.

Read more ... about the five exciting projects that were finished up this past spring term, 2011. An interesting discussion of Arvind's focus on IP in this class follows.