Design automation tools for a FPAA SoC and Its application in analog education

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Collins, Michelle D.
Hasler, Jennifer
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The objective of this research is to emphasize the use of configurable and programmable mixed-signal architectures and a concomitant software suite in analog education. In particular this work focuses on a Field Programmable Analog Array (FPAA) System on Chip (SoC) and RASP Tools, respectively. The prevalence of digital design among diverse individuals in academia, industry, and the public community is recognized worldwide. Some of the preeminence that digital systems have experienced is attributed to Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs) and their tools. It is postulated that the lack of equal mobility for analog design has discouraged individuals from choosing to incorporate analog circuits and systems in their projects, despite their advantages. The notion is that if designers have access to a similar set of hardware and an accompanying software infrastructure, they can be enabled to reap the benefits of using analog and mixed-signal circuits for a range of applications. The inner workings of RASP Tools, which is the result of tool integration from a graphical front-end design environment to the FPAA hardware is described in detail. Further, RASP Tools and FPAAs were employed in a graduate course and an assessment of its effectiveness was conducted, mainly the students' satisfaction of our approach and their proficiencies. The assessment results led to the conclusion that we are moving in the right direction to create a user-friendly way for students to become familiar with analog design. It should be noted that there is room for improvement in tool development as we strive to create a foundation that will foster a balanced design community through education.
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