Using hypermedia for programmable logic devices education
ABSTRACT PLDs are very complex devices that can be described using a lot of
different non-excluding but related concepts. Usually, PLD education is
based on the analysis of specific devices of several manufacturers, but
this method is nor suitable because it gives only a particular insight.
This situation demands a new methodology that summarizes all the
characteristics of PLDs and makes possible a dynamic link between
related concepts. From this perspective this paper describes an original
method of PLD characterization and proposes a hypermedia application as
a suitable solution for its practical implementation
- SourceAvailable from: María Dolores Valdés
Conference Paper: Interactive multimedia database resources[Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: The article proposes an alternative solution to support electronic technology education. A methodology oriented to the development of hypermedia applications for the analysis of complex technologies is commented upon and new resources to improve such a methodology is presented. The objective is to obtain a sturdy educational system favoring the acquisition of theoretical and practical knowledge in an intuitive wayFrontiers in Education Conference, 2000. FIE 2000. 30th Annual; 02/2000
Conference Paper: The Stanford University Electronic Learning Portfolios project[Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: This paper describes a learning-technology task-force project of the Stanford University Learning Laboratory carried out in conjunction with other academic institutions and with industry, to enable students, faculty, staff, and industry professionals to significantly enhance their personal learning. Called the Electronic Learning Portfolios (E-folios) project, it is intended to help individuals capture, organize, integrate and re-use the results of learning experiences encountered throughout their careers. The authors believe that E-folios can contribute significantly to improvements in personalized, collaborative learning while also supporting a variety of student learning styles. E-folios are ubiquitous, portable electronic knowledge bases that are private, personalized and sharable. They contain and represent one's own formal and informal learning experience. At the same time, E-folio content can be selectively shared, thereby creating an unlimited constellation of larger communities with common understandings and experience. Such communities can range in scale from pair relationships to teams of several persons through to enterprise-wide frameworksFrontiers in Education Conference, 1998. FIE '98. 28th Annual; 12/1998
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ABSTRACT: Present technological solutions tend to become very complex, interrelated and difficult to characterize systems, thereby giving rise to what we name “complex technologies”. Complex technologies have a lot of related concepts comprising a large number of nonexcluding or excluding subconcepts. Complex technologies education is usually based on the analysis of specific devices from different manufacturers, but this method is not suitable because it provides only one particular insight. This situation demands a new methodology summarizing all the characteristics of a particular technology and making the dynamic link between related concepts possible. From this perspective, the authors' work describes an original method for the characterization of complex technologies and proposes the hypermedia technique as a suitable solution for its practical implementation. The method has been applied for teaching field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) and monolithic digital integrated circuits (MDICs), which are complex technologies constituting two of the most dynamic areas of microelectronicsIEEE Transactions on Education 12/1999; · 0.95 Impact Factor
Using Hypermedia for Programmable Logic Devices Education
M.D. Valdés, M.J. Moure, L. Pardo, J. Álvarez, E. Mandado
Department of Electronic Technology
University of Vigo. Spain
PLDs are very complex devices that can be described
using a lot of different non-excluding but related
concepts. Usually, PLD education is based on the
analysis of specific devices of several manufacturers, but
this method is not suitable because it gives only a
This situation demands a new methodology that
summarizes all the characteristics of PLDs and makes
possible a dynamic link between related concepts.
From this perspective this paper describes an original
method of PLD characterization and proposes a
hypermedia application as a suitable solution for its
Programmable Logic Devices (PLDs) have a great
hardware complexity and constitute one of the most
dynamic areas of Microelectronics. Due to that PLDs
have a large number of different non-excluding concepts
and require CAD tools for digital systems design.
These features induce many PLD manufactures to
commercialize their own devices and tools. As a
consequence, the market offers a lot of devices with
different architectures causing a lack of an adequate
PLDs educational method.
This paper proposes an original method to
accomplish PLD education supported by the use of
hypermedia tools. The method is not restricted to PLDs
but constitutes a general method for complex
2: A method for complex technologies education
We define complex technologies as those
technologies including a lot of non-excluding but related
concepts, comprising a large number of non-excluding or
The method we propose for complex technologies
education comprises four stages (Figure 1). In the first
one, a lot of representative different systems or devices
are chosen and analyzed. In the second stage all the
common blocks are defined and their principal
characteristics (basic concepts) are determined. The third
stage comprises the definition of the particular
characteristics (subconcepts), including functionality,
implementation, architecture, etc.
Figure 1. Analysis of complex technologies
Finally, all the basic concepts and subconcepts are
structured to obtain a descriptive model (Figure 2). This
model combines the concepts in such a way that any
commercial systems or device can be described from it.
As any concept or subconcept can contain others, the
model has different levels that go from non-excluding to
excluding concepts. In this way to analyze a particular
system it is necessary to go through the model in an
A REPRESENTATIVE SET
OF REAL SYSTEMS
A REPRESENTATIVE SET OF
REAL SYSTEMS OR DEVICES
TO DEFINE THE
TO DEFINETHE PARTICULAR
TO DEFINE THE PARTICULAR
TO STRUCTURE THE
INFORMATION TO DEVELOPE
THE DESCRIPTIVE MODEL
THE DESCRIPTIVE MODEL
TO STRUCTURE THE
INFORMATION TO DEVELOP
appropriated way. For example, in figure 2 the dotted and
the solid arrows represent two different systems.
3: Application to PLDs education
The analysis of a lot of different PLDs led to the
classification shown in Table 1 .
This table is useful but it does not indicate the real
situation because, for example, APLDs can have one or
two feedback paths and one or two flip-flops like BPLDs.
Figure 2. Complex technology structure.
Using the method described before we obtain the
PLDs descriptive model of figure 3, that translates into
the PLD technology the general model of figure 2.
IMPLEMENTATION TWO FEEDBACK
EXPANDER PRODUCT TERM ARRAY
ONE ARRAY (NON-SEGMENTED PLD)
VARIABLE ARRAY RESOURCES
USING COMPLEX MACROCELL
USING SEVERAL INTERCONNECTED APLDs
USING CONFIGURABLE LOGIC BLOCKS
USING SEGMENTED MACROCELLS
Table 1. Classification of PLDs.
The descriptive model of figure 3 provides students
with a didactic material that summarizes all the aspects of
the technology. In this way their education is not reduced
to the analysis of a few real devices.
4: Using hypermedia for PLD education
Although the PLDs descriptive model of figure 3 is
very helpful, it can not be analyzed sequentially because
it is frequently necessary to come back to previous
concepts. This constrains turns hypertext into a very
useful tool for PLDs analysis.
The principal advantage of hypertext documents is
that they are non-linear documents, meaning that they can
be read in several ways, and there is not neither a unique
nor a pre-defined way. Different concepts can be linked
and accessed from any point of the document. At the
same time hypertexts can link with other documents and
Figure 3. PLDs structure descriptive model.
Another advantage of hypertext documents is that
they can be combined with powerful audio-visual
resources (figures, sounds, and animations) to develop a
hypermedia application . This is specially useful to
present many concepts very difficult to explain by means
of words. In the case of PLDs their great hardware
complexity demands the use of a lot of graphic
information for the better understanding of their
Programmable Logic Devices
Programmable Logic Devices
LEVEL 1LEVEL 2
NUM BER OF
NUM BER OF
PRODUCT TERM STEERING
PRODUCT TERM ALLOCATION
EXPANDER PRODUCT TERM ARRAY
Figure 4. Example of a macrocell (a) and a PAL-based segmented fixed array allocation PLD with one Global and two
local interconnection arrays (b).
Taking into account all the above considerations, we
developed a hypermedia application oriented to PLDs
This application introduces the descriptive model of
the technology (Figure 3), combining a lot of audio-
visual resources to help students during the learning
Using this application the students can navigate over
the entire application to analyze all the characteristics of
the technology or through the links that combine the
characteristics of a particular device. In addition, this
application links with CAD tools of Altera  and Xilinx
 helping the student to go from theoretical concepts to
To demonstrate our method utility figure 4 shows an
example of a APLD using a macrocell implementation
with two shared feedback path and two flip-flops. This
APLD has fixed array resources allocation and a
including one global and two local interconnection arrays.
In summary, we can say that we developed an
innovative method for PLD education based on
hypermedia that provides students with a very useful tool
that combines theoretical and CAD tools in the same
 Mandado, E., Marcos, J., Pérez, S., Programmable Logic
Devices and Logic Controllers, London, Prentice Hall, 1996.
 Alvarez J., Doctoral Thesis, Logic Controllers Design Methods
Using Configurable Digital Devices, University of Vigo. Spain, 1995.
 Terry, J., ‘The ‘M-Word’: Multimedia interfaces and their role
in interactive learning systems’, in Edwards, D.N. and Holland, S.
(eds), Multimedia Interface Design in Education, Berlín, Springer-
 “ALTERA Data Book”, ALTERA, San José (CA), 1995.
 “The Programmable Logic Data Book”, XILINX, San José