Digital Building Blocks
Reference EHPOOL00000260
Taught in Elective Course List for Master of Electrical EngineeringElective Course List for Master of Computer Science Engineering
Theory (A) 30.0
Exercises (B) 15.0
Training and projects (C) 0.0
Studytime (D) 120.0
Studypoints (E) 4
Credit contract? Access is determined after successful competences assessment
Examination contract? Access is determined after successful competences assessment
Credit contract mandatory if Exam contract? Separate credit contract mandatory
Retake possible? No
Teaching Language Dutch
Lecturer Joni Dambre
Department TW06
Co-lecturers Jan Doutreloigne
Key Words

CMOS building blocks

Position of the Course

This course aims at acquiring knowledge and expertise in the design of good CMOS circuits that can be used as building blocks in digital system design.
The circuits are studied at circuit level and logic level, and important metrics like area, speed and dissipation are addressed. The lab work involves the effective design of circuits and the analysis of their properties using modern CAD software. To get acquainted with scientific literature, an advanced digital circuit design topic is studied in small groups and the results are presented to the class.


  • Introduction: metrics for digital circuits
  • CMOS Semiconductor components: semiconductor properties, the CMOS diode, the MOSFET transistor
  • Integrated wires: properties, design
  • Combinational CMOS Circuits: the CMOS Inverter, static circuits, dynamic circuits
  • Sequential CMOS Circuits: static circuits, dynamic circuits
  • Timing and Clock Distribution: timing and synchronisation of sequential circuits, synchronous circuits, asynchronous circuits
  • Special Building Blocks: arithmetic building blocks, memories
  • Advanced topics in research and development: topics depending on recent evolutions and class preferences

Starting Competences

Required prior knowledge: linear electrical networks (charge, current, potential, voltage, power, resistance, capacitance, induction, rc-networks), basic knowledge about digital gates (AND, OR, INVERTOR, ...), combinational and sequential digital circuits, basic knowledge of computer architecture (components of a processor, memory hierarchy, ALU-components: binary addition, multiplication, ...), switch model for the MOSFET transistor, physical meaning of the term 'semiconductor', notions of VLSI-technology (physical structure of a MOSFET, most common process steps)

At Ghent University, this can be obtained by following:
- the Bachelor electrical engineering courses: Electrical networks, Digital electronics, Computer architecture;
- or the Bachelor informatics courses: Introductory electronics, Computer architecture;

Final Competences

  • An understanding of a wide range of digital CMOS gates and how the most important design and environmental parameters influence their performance.
  • An understanding of the method of logical effort for CMOS gate sizing.
  • The ability to design good complex CMOS gates and analysis of their performance.

Teaching and Learning Material

Presentation material (dutch); textbook J. Rabaey, A. Chandrakasan, B. Nikolic: "Digital Integrated Circuits", Prentice-Hall, New Jersey, 2003. ISBN 0-13-120764-4 (textbook is mandatory for non Dutch speaking students)


  • J. Rabaey, A. Chandrakasan, B. Nikolic: "Digital Integrated Circuits", Prentice-Hall, New Jersey, 2003. ISBN 0-13-120764-4
  • L. Solymar, D. Walsh: "Electrical properties of materials", seventh edition, Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK, 2004. ISBN 0-19-926793-6

Study Coaching

Coaching of lab sessions and literature study; thematic online discussion forums for questions; individual coaching on request before or after classes or by appointment

Teaching Methods

Classroom lectures; Lab sessions; Homework assignments

Evaluation Methods

Evaluation throughout semester as well as during examination period. Special conditions: Lab work and project accounts for 1/3 of total score IF exam score is at least 8; exam scores below 8 can not be compensated with lab work and projects lab work and projects do not count for second session

Examination Methods

During examination period: oral closed-book exam, written preparation
During semester: graded lab sessions; graded project reports. Second chance: Not possible
Frequency: 3 lab exercises of multiple sessions each and with written report + a literature study with presentation and report

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