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Unit information: Embedded and Real-Time Systems in 2021/22

Unit name Embedded and Real-Time Systems
Unit code EENG34030
Credit points 10
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Kris Nikov
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Electrical & Electronic Engineering
Faculty Faculty of Engineering

Description including Unit Aims

Microprocessors are routinely embedded within the heart of modern electronic systems and this unit is designed to deal with the key topics concerned with implementing a microprocessor-based system and programming it to meet the real-time demands of embedded systems. The unit focuses on ARM technology and in this context microprocessors are described, their interconnect components explained and programming approaches discussed. Topics addressed include bus systems (e.g. ARM AHB, AXI), signalling and handshaking, arbitration, system-on-chip design and simulation with VHDL, serial and parallel data interfaces, analogue interfaces, programming input-output systems, interrupts, simple state machine schedulers, programming real-time systems, the real-time scheduler, and synchronising parallel processes. This unit will use Problem Based Learning (PBL) with an assessment consisting of 100% coursework. The assessment is formed by a set of realistic industry-focus problems gradually increasing in complexity. Some assessment components will involve system-on-chip design/simulation using VHDL and some practical programming work using a real time embedded system.

The hardware part of the unit focuses on power efficient processors from ARM (e.g. Cortex M0) and how these processors can be used to build embedded and real-time systems using FPGAs as the target implementation technology. FPGAs are introduced as a low-cost, high-performance custom computing platform suitable for Embedded and Real time Systems. The bus systems required to interface the processors with other peripherals are studied focusing on ARM AMBA AHB/APB and AXI interconnects. Practical work during this phase involves building a AHB system-on-chip around the Cortex M0 processor.

Intended Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of the unit a student will be able to:

  • Apply the design skills acquired during the prerequisites and best practice to construct a microprocessor-based system-on-chip using state of the art microcontrollers and system-on-chip intellectual property.
  • Explain how modern embedded systems work and the different implementation trade-offs available to the embedded system designer.
  • Describe the programming techniques required to operate a small-scale, multi-tasking, real-time system.
  • Assess the various mechanisms used to address the problem of process synchronisation in a pre-emptive, multi-tasking environment.
  • Formulate the need for operating system support to provide these mechanisms.
  • Explain the principles of embedded system design, operation and performance.

Teaching Information

Teaching will be delivered through a combination of synchronous and asynchronous sessions, including lectures, practical activities supported by drop-in sessions, problem sheets and self-directed exercises.

Assessment Information

Formative: Online Test 1

Summative: Coursework 1 (50%), Coursework 2 (50%) marked on a Pass/Fail marking scheme


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. EENG34030).

How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.