Fundamentals of Microelectronics and Communications
This is the first unit of the part-time MSc in Microelectronics, Optoelectronics, and Communications. Each unit is typically divided into six sub-sections. In this unit, we aim to cover the fundamental material needed for the advanced units on Microelectronics and Communications that follow in Year 1 of the MSc.
For the Microelectronics aspect, we aim to build upon the linear circuits that are covered in the pre-course material and we begin with an introduction to Microcontroller Systems before going on to Microelectronic Systems, where we take some of the concepts introduced in the preparation material and build upon them in more detail, such as the role of two-transistor circuits and different types of filters e.g. Butterworth, Chebyshev, and Bessel-Thomson filters. We conclude this section of the Fundamental unit with Integrated Circuit Technology and Design.
For the subject of Communications, we begin with an introduction and background to Analogue Communications, covering mathematical treatments of AM and FM transmission before introducing Digital Communications and the concept of shift-keying. This section concludes with a look at the fundamentals of Information Theory and Coding.
Understand how relatively simple computers, such as those that are programmed to perform a restricted number of tasks, function in terms of hardware...more
- Components of a CPU, registers, buses
- Instructions and instruction cycle
- Memory and memory maps
- Interfacing I/O
- Applications to data acquisition
- Closed loop control
Understand the various architectures for programmable logic devices and associate design issues...more
- Digital design: discrete implementation, ASICs, gate arrays, field-programmable logic
- PLDs, CPLDs, FPGAs
- CAD tools for field-programmable logic
- VHSIC Hardware Description Language (VHDL)
- CAT and design for testability
- Combining analogue and digital circuits: switched-capacitor filters; phase-locked loops, clock & data recovery
Develop an appreciation of modern digital circuit design options and understand the key parameters of elementary logic and sequential elements. At the end of the section, you should be able to understand and avoid common CMOS circuit pitfalls and reliability problems such as variability...more
- CMOS – Deep Sub Micron Technologies, structured logic design
- Delay and Speed - Inverter Delay, RC delay model, Interconnects and related parasitics
- Power - Static and dynamic power, low power designs, noise margins
- Logic Design - Adders, counters, shifters, Multipliers, Latches and flip-flops Memories – SRAM, DRAM, ROM
- Addressing circuitry
- Area, delay and power analysis
- IC Design - Input/Output, Pads and ESD Protection
- Clock systems, power distribution, charge pumps, packaging
- Reliability and testing - Scaling, design economics
- Design for Manufacturing
- Logic verification, design for testability
- Embedded System Design – Architectures
- Multi and many-core systems
- Real Time Operating Systems
An introduction to both linear time invariant and time varying systems and time/frequency-domain properties of linear time invariant systems. The section will conclude with a description of the process of demodulation and detection and the basic architecture of a superheterodyne receiver...more
- Linear time-invariant (LTI) systems
- Linear time-varying systems
- Input/output signal spectrum
- Communication channel
- Signal and channel bandwidth
- Multiplexing, analogue modulation schemes (single/double-sideband modulation, quadrature amplitude modulation, frequency modulation, phase modulation)
- Modulation index and efficiency
- Demodulation and detection
- Basic superheterodyne receiver architecture
An overview of digital communication systems, the process of sampling, baseband transmission and line codes. At the end of this section, you should be able to determine the bandwidth of a random data stream in simple cases, be comfortable calculating the signal-to-noise ratio for different modulation schemes and be able to estimate the error rate of a simple data stream from the signal-to-noise ratio of the communications channel...more
- Digital communication system overview, sampling, baseband transmission and line codes
- Passband digital modulation schemes (amplitude shift keying, frequency shift keying, phase shift keying, quadrature amplitude modulation, continuous-phase modulation)
- Signal spectra
- Signal-to-noise ratio
- Error probability analysis in additive Gaussian channels
In the final section, we will devote time to introducing information theory where you will gain an appreciation as to how information theory underpins the design of modern communication systems...more
- Information theory: mutual information, entropy, asymptotic equipartition property, typical sequences, fixed-length and variable-length source coding
- Shannon’s source coding theorem, binary symmetric channel, discrete input AWGN channel, band-limited AWGN channel, parallel channel, channel capacity
- Shannon’s noisy channel coding theorem
- Error detection and correction: linear block codes (construction, dual codes, systematic codes, Hamming weight, Hamming distance, error detection, error correction, syndrome decoding, Hamming codes, repetition codes, single-parity-check codes, BCH codes, Reed-Solomon codes, low-density parity-check codes), trellis codes (convolutional codes, turbo codes, decoding)
Please note that this programme is subject to change.
You will be issued with a reading list and exercises to work through before your first residential week via the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) to help prepare you for the MSc course.
This online material will cover:
- Charge conservation, Kirchhoff’s laws, mesh/nodal analysis;
- Concepts of ideal voltage and current sources, and impedances;
- Thévenin and Norton theorems with emphasis on the concepts of input and output impedances;
- Frequency response of a.c. networks including Bode diagrams, second-order and resonant circuits, damping and Q factors;
- Laplace transform methods for transient circuit analysis with zero initial conditions. Impulse and step responses of second-order networks and resonant circuits;
- Probability theory and stochastic processes.
You must work through this material before the course begins in earnest. If you have a Physics background you may find parts of the content familiar, but there will be new contexts and content. If you have a background in Mathematics you may find most of this material new.
Accommodation is not included in the course fee but may be available at your college and at Rewley House.
Bed and breakfast accommodation at other University colleges can also be booked on the Oxford Rooms website.
The Radcliffe Science Library (RSL) www.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/science is the main science research library at the university. The library holds copies of all of your reading list items, and most of your engineering library research will be done using this library’s resources. The library is located less than 5 minutes away from the Engineering Science department, at the corner of Parks Road and South Parks Road.
The subject librarian responsible for Engineering Science is Alessandra Vetrugno (firstname.lastname@example.org), based at the RSL.
The Department for Continuing Education is based at Rewley House in Wellington Square, only five minutes walk from the Department of Engineering Science (Thom Building).
In addition to supporting the various aspects of the course that involve online learning, the Department has facilities available to students during their attendance in Oxford. In particular, the Department has a Graduate Room - a study space dedicated to graduate students with lockers, printing facilities and refreshments. The Graduate Room is accessible from 8.00am to 10.00pm (24hrs for students using the Department’s overnight accommodation). The Continuing Education Library, also located at Rewley House, has quiet study space and a ‘Reading Room’.
In order to participate in the pre-course material you will need access to the internet and a computer meeting our recommended minimum computer specification, which can be found online at onlinesupport.conted.ox.ac.uk/TechnicalSupport/YourComputer.php
This unit can only be taken as part of the MSc in Microelectronics, Optoelectronics and Communications.
Each of the six taught units will typically follow the structure below:
- Online material and exercises using the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). We would expect you to take 12 weeks to work through this material. We will expect you to read specific material online and be familiar with the necessary pre-requisites of the course before each residential week in Oxford.
- A residential week in Oxford during which you will attend classes, complete tutorial exercises, participate in tutorial classes, meet your personal tutor and, where necessary, complete practical assignments.
- Assignments which are available online and which must be completed and submitted by the deadlines (see Key Dates).
This course is taught by members of the Engineering Science Faculty, who you will meet as lecturers, as tutors for classes, or as your dissertation supervisor. One member of faculty will be assigned to you as a ‘personal tutor’ at the start of the course. He or she will provide advice and guidance, and discuss your academic progress. Your personal tutor will meet with you at each of the residential weeks, and you can contact him or her by email.
Your course supervisor will write a formal report on your progress three times a year on the online Graduate Supervision System (http://www.admin.ox.ac.uk/gss/). You will be able to view that report and will be asked to reflect on your progress as well.
Virtual Learning Environment
This course uses a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), which is a web-based application called WebLearn.
Access to the course VLE is via an internet browser using your University Single Sign-On account. When the course has started and you have activated your Single Sign-On, you will have access to the student forum, information about student support, course documents and examiner reports. If you are unable to access WebLearn, please email the course team with details of your Single Sign-On (email@example.com).
You will be given access to an 'Induction' VLE which houses supporting materials for the MSc on Microelectronics, Optoelectronics and Communication at the start of the academic year, and to separate sites for each unit as and when you are due to take them.
During the course you will also be required to submit work through our online Moodle Assignment Submission System.
The purpose of this topic is to understand how relatively simple computers, such as those that are programmed to perform a restricted number of tasks, function in terms of hardware. We will introduce you to the fundamentals of a CPU and the role of registers and buses. You will gain an understanding of the notion of a finite state machine and appreciate the need to separate data from control in a state machine with many registers. We will consider how both the layout and functionality of register circuitry can be specified using a register transfer language and introduce you to the von Neumann architecture in terms of memory, buses, and CPU. From this, you will be able to give a detailed account of the organization of the CPU in terms of its data registers, control unit and arithmetic logic unit. We will aim to explain how an instruction is fetched from memory, how its opcode reaches the control unit, and how the execution phases of various instructions are defined by successions of register transfers. In this part of the course, you will learn how to design a one-hot controller unit, a simple arithmetic logic unit, and the importance of memory timing transfers between memory and CPU.
The aim of this section is to understand the various architectures for programmable logic devices and the design issues that are associated with them. We will build upon the preparation material by exploring various circuits that exploit both digital and analogue characteristics, such as phase-locked loops. We will also consider two-transistor circuits and the different types of analogue filters and how they can be designed using active filters. By the end of the section, you should be aware of the effort that goes into the testing of integrated circuits and to have exposure to some of the simpler techniques that are used. The section will also include a rudimentary introduction to hardware design by computer codes, such as VHSIC Hardware Description Language (VHDL).
In this topic, we aim to develop an appreciation of modern digital circuit design options and to help you to understand the key parameters of elementary logic and sequential elements. We will describe the main types of digital architecture that are used and when each one is appropriate. You will learn to be able to analyse the speed, power, area and scaling of simple combinatorial and sequential logic circuits and to understand basic digital building blocks including adders, counters and multipliers. We will cover in some detail the power dissipation in integrated circuits and its effect on logic performance, and you will learn to describe random addressable and read only memories along with their addressing and sensing schemes. This section will also consider the importance of clock design and techniques to control clock skew and will explore the importance and difficulties of testing modern electronic systems. The importance of using a fault model and getting good fault coverage will also be treated. At the end of the section, you should be able to understand and avoid common CMOS circuit pitfalls and reliability problems such as variability.
In this section, we aim to introduce you to both linear time-invariant and time-varying systems and to help you to understand and be able to analyse time/frequency-domain properties of the former. We will consider basic communication channels and the physical limitations they impose on practical systems. We will then explain what is meant by signal and channel bandwidth, and describe how multiplexing (in frequency and time) improve channel usage. We will consider, on a mathematical basis, analogue modulation schemes (both transmission and detection of AM and FM) and modulated signal spectra. The section will then conclude with a description of the process of demodulation and detection and the basic architecture of a superheterodyne receiver.
We will begin this section with an overview of a digital communication systems, the process of sampling, baseband transmission and line codes. From this, you should be able to describe the parts of a digital communication system and explain the purpose of each component. We will then look at passband digital modulation schemes such as amplitude shift keying, frequency shift keying, phase shift keying, quadrature amplitude modulation, and continuous-phase modulation in order to understand the principles of digital modulation and be able to describe the trade-offs between the different schemes. We will explain how to calculate the spectrum of modulated baseband and passband signals and apply the results to issues of system design. The section will then aim to cover the receiver-side of the communication process and how one can demodulate and recover a transmitted message in simple systems. At the end of this section, you should be able to determine the bandwidth of a random data stream in simple cases, be comfortable calculating the signal-to-noise ratio for different modulation schemes and be able to estimate the error rate of a simple data stream from the signal-to-noise ratio of the communications channel.
In the final section, we will devote time to introducing information theory. To this end, you will gain an appreciation of how information theory underpins the design of modern communication systems. We will explore Shannon’s source coding theorem and compression, and we will show you how to apply simple source coding mechanisms in practice. We will also study Shannon’s channel coding theorem, and you will learn to calculate the capacity of simple channel models and describe what this means in a practical setting. Channel models considered will include the following: binary symmetric channel, discrete input AWGN channel, band-limited AWGN channel, and parallel channel. For the final stage of this section, we will cover the use of error correction coding (e.g. systematic codes, Hamming codes, repetition codes, single-parity-check codes, BCH codes, Reed-Solomon codes, and low-density parity-check codes) and will apply basic techniques to simple examples for illustrative purposes.
Please note that the programme is subject to change.
There will be two assignments comprising a set of problems to solve (example sheets) - neither of which are formally assessed - that will be provided during the residential week. These first two assignments will not contribute to your overall degree outcome. You will receive verbal feedback from the tutor on your work for both problem sheets at the tutorial classes during the residential week and written feedback via the VLE.
At the end of the residential week, two further example sheets will be made available that will accompany the material to be covered via the VLE. Again, they will not contribute to your overall degree outcome, and written feedback will be provided.
Finally, there will be two written examinable papers that will be provided towards the end of the 12 week course. These papers will be formally assessed with the outcome providing the mark for the completed unit. They will be distributed online and must be submitted for assessment online. You must gain a pass in both of these examinable assignments in order to pass the whole unit.
If you fail one of the assignments but pass the other, the mark from the assignment that you passed will be carried forward (further information can be found in the Exam regulations and conventions). For the assignment you failed, you will be set a new assignment and must re-submit this. Additional worked examples and problems may also be provided via the VLE.
This unit can only be taken as part of the MSc in Microelectronics, Optoelectronics and Communications.
Terms and conditions
Terms and conditions for applicants and students on this course
Sources of funding
Information on financial support
Online activities released: 13 August 2018
Residential week: 17 - 21 September 2018
Examinable Assignments Released: 26 November 2018
Assignment Submission Date: 17 December 2018