ECE 553     Digital Integrated Circuit Design

Winter Term  (2018w)       last updated 2018-2-27

Course web page:
Course Resources
Calendar Description Library
Marking Textbook
Labs and term work
Lecture Notes
General Course Info

Manufacturer's info
Lecture notes


For questions concerning labs 0-3, please use the eClass discussion forum.  If you know the answer to a question (not the solution of a marked course component), by all means post it.  Please read prior postings to see if your question has been asked and answered.  Create a new topic for most questions (unless it's a request for elaboration).

For questions concerning the lectures or project, see me in class, during office hours or send email.
Use email for questions of a confidential nature.
Professor Duncan Elliott 492-5357 ICE 11-281


General Course Info

Lectures Tues., Thurs. 11:00-12:20 in ECERF w6-087.
Some lectures may be held at different times.
If you prefer, you may work on the labs on your own time, so don't worry about schedule conflicts (attendance isn't taken in the labs for this grad course).
Lab TA support should be available on specified Tuesdays 14:00-16:50.
   CAD lab ETLC e5-013 is open extended hours, use your AICT (campus computer) userid

Office hours


(ask more questions and we'll cover less material but in greater depth)


Tentative Marking scheme for ECE 553.

Bonuses may be available on some marked materials.  Marks of >100% may be recorded.

Term work 25% Labs (>60% of term work),
Problem Sets due Thursdays,
Application Notes
Project 45% Group design of an (at least partially) digital IC including a custom design component
Topics offered by instructor, or see me about your ideas
Mark based on reports and public presentation
Proposal Feb 27
Presentation Apr 12
Reports due April 13
Final Exam 30% 6 aid sheets 8.5x11 inch, hand written, any information
during exam period

Problem sets are due at the beginning of  lectures.  Mutually beneficial collaboration is encouraged, provided that the names of all collaborators are cited on the problem set, immediately below the student's name.  Marking may either be based on content or effort at the instructor's discretion.  Please do not put student id numbers on problem sets or any other materials to be handed out in class.

Labs  0,1,2,3 must be completed individually without outside assistance beyond general advice on tools (certainly no sharing of files or printouts).   Pre-lab work should be submitted with the lab.  Submissions are due by 18:00 in the ECE 553 email.   Late submissions will be penalized 20% of the assigned mark per school day.   Labs and problem sets should be brief but sufficiently clear and readable that you would be happy to submit them to a busy engineering manager.  If it only takes a sentence to describe something, then it should be described in a sentence.  Assignments should include:

Labs will be graded at the end of term.


Submissions will not normally be re-graded more than two weeks after the first day these have been returned in class.

The following calculators are permitted for examinations in this course: faculty approved programmable calculators, faculty approved non-programmable calculators,  slide rules, and instructor approved abacuses (if used quietly).  Programmable calculators will probably offer little or no advantage over non-programmable calculators.  Students must not distract other students during exams, so please turn off the calculator beep.

The final examination aid sheets must be in the studentís own handwriting (both sides, no photocopies or printouts), may be no larger than 21.59 by 27.94 cm paper, and may contain any information.

Deferred examinations and Re-examinations may contain multiple components (including an oral component) as designed by instructor.

Credit may only be received for one of ECE403, EE453, ECE553, EE483 and EE653.

Students requiring specialized support should provide letters from Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to the instructor in the first 2 weeks of lectures.

If you wish to discuss private information, let me know that you'd rather not talk in the classroom.

In the past, students have indicated that audio recording stifles the asking of questions in lectures.  To keep everyone comfortable, audio or video recording or photographs by students requires the written consent of all students, unless SAS indicates special needs.

Grade Determination Method

In this course, raw marks will be calculated up until after the final exam.  The percentage grade will be converted to a letter grade according to the calendar definitions of those grades and the degree of mastery of the material.

Code of Student Behaviour

The University of Alberta is committed to the highest standards of academic integrity and honesty. Students are expected to be familiar with these standards regarding academic honesty and to uphold the policies of the University in this respect. Students are particularly urged to familiarize themselves with the provisions of the Code of Student Behaviour (online at and avoid any behaviour which could potentially result in suspicions of cheating, plagiarism, misrepresentation of facts and/or participation in an offence. Academic dishonesty is a serious offence and can result in suspension or expulsion from the University.

Policy about course outlines can be found in Course Requirements, Evaluation Procedures and Grading of the University Calendar.


Design a significant integrated circuit and verify its functionality and performance through pin-to-pin simulation and other verification.  Your design (or one of your designs) must contain  a full-custom portion and must contain some digital circuits.  Pick a topic you are passionate about.  Some of my suggestions are online.
Present your work and results in a 10-20 minute seminar plus questions.  You will need to rehearse your presentation in advance.  Bring a USB memory key with a PDF or PPT presentation, or your own laptop.  In this short presentation time, give an overview of the application of your chip, the chip's overall performance, and then descend into a few details where you employed clever tricks, found some interesting trade-offs, or otherwise have a chance to teach your fellow designers something interesting.

The main part of  final report will be in the form of a well-written 3-8 page "IEEE 2-column format paper" with embedded figures [LaTeX and MS Word templates].  (See me if you want to use a different format.)  In your abstract and introduction, clearly describe what you achieved.  Devote approximately a column to background and past work, with references to the literature, properly cited.  Properly quote and reference text and figures from other sources.  Describe analysis, simulations and, if applicable, selection between design alternatives.  Discuss speed-power-area trade-offs.  Compare standard cell to full custom implementations if applicable.  Include block diagrams, schematics and layouts (including full chip and custom blocks).  In a box, summarize:
IC process
Power supply voltages and power
Clock frequency
Circuit families used
Summarize number of pins used for what purpose and total (e.g. Vdd/Vss-core, Vdd/Vss-IO, data in, data out, control, ...)

Your report may contain any number of pages of appendix in any format (separate PDF preferred, hard copy permitted).  Include as applicable:
index to appendices
VHDL/Verilog code, commented and human readable
Each page must have a title or enough information for me to figure out what I'm looking at.
hierarchical schematics, if applicable
custom and chip layouts, hierarchical if applicable
annotated simulations, hierarchical if applicable
other verification: evidence (i.e. summaries, without killing too many trees) of DRC, LVS, static timing

Your report must be submitted electronically and will become public unless other arrangements have been made.

Submit a hard copy declaration with the quoted text below and your list of exceptions..All group members must sign and date their own signature.
"The design elements of this project and the report are entirely the original work of the authors and have not been submitted for credit in any other course except as follows:"
provide a descriptive list of exceptions that reference your citations [], e.g.

oscillator schematic adapted from [1]
portions of the parity check code were previously submitted in course ECE595

Library Resources



CMOS VLSI Design - A Circuits and Design Perspective, 4th Edition
N.H.E. Weste & D. Harris     
Addison-Wesley 2011 including selected problem solutions

Lecture Notes

The most important material will be covered on the white board.  Please ensure you have a complete set of notes.
Selected lecture notes will be made available online one week after the lecture.  A preliminary version may be available beforehand.
Use your ccid (Campus Computer ID) to access course materials.


Use your ccid (Campus Computer ID) to access labs.


Report Due Date
Jan 9
Jan 23
Jan 16
Jan 26
Jan 30
Feb 6
Feb 15
Mar 6, 20, 27
Mar 31
Feb 6,
Mar 6, 20, 27
Apr 3

Term Work

updated ~weekly

Problem sets,
Past exams
Jan 23
Jan 25
Feb 1
Feb 8
Feb 15
Mar 1
Mar 8
Mar 15
Mar 27
Mar 29
Apr 10

Manufacturer's Information