Spring Break

It’s Spring Break now. I officially have only one more Electrical Engineering class left before I graduate, EE 478, which is the capstone for Embedded Computing taught by Dr. Peckol, who I would have had for a total of four courses during my time at the University of Washington.
This past quarter was perhaps my busiest quarter yet… I took three 400-level Electrical Engineering courses. I took EE 477/525, the VLSI capstone course in designing digital integrated circuits. The class ended up taking massive amounts of time for the projects. There were three projects in total, which amounted to over 150 hours of work each. We used the FreePDK45 design kit to lay out the first two projects, which were a 256-bit SRAM cell and a 20-bit adder.
For each of the projects, we were graded competitively on a certain Figure Of Merit (FOM), which was a number we got from multiplying several measurements of our circuit. For our first project, which was to design a 256-bit SRAM cell, the FOM was Area×Delay², which you calculate by measuring the total area taken up by the chip and multiplying it by the worst possible delay for storing data in the chip squared. The team that got the best FOM got full points for the competition portion of the project, the group with the worst FOM got no points, and everybody else was graded in between on a linear scale.
For the first project, the 256-bit SRAM, my lab partner Kaitlyn and I did pretty well, and got the second-best FOM in the class. The following image shows our final circuit, which measures 19.38 µm × 13.78 µm (267.1 µm²). For reference, the smallest size square particle a person with 20/20 vision can see is 100 µm × 100 µm, so you can fit around 35 of these cells in that area.
Our 256-bit SRAM cell (click to zoom in)
This SRAM consists of five distinct parts: a 5-to-32 decoder, 16 bit-line pre-chargers, 16 high-skew inverters, and 8 bit-line write drivers. With our design, we measure a maximum read delay of 1.055 ns.
For our second project, we were required to design a 20 × 20 bit adder. For our design, we designed a delay-insensitive carry-lookahead with speed-up circuitry (DICLASP) based on an IEEE article we found online. What attracted us about this specific adder design was that it implemented an O(log(log(n))) algorithm, whereas most tree adders we encountered used an O(log(n)) algorithm. We deviated a lot from the implementation used in the article, whereas we made it not self-timed, and used N-P domino logic. Looking back, that might have not been a good idea, since we found out it took an extreme amount of time to lay it out, since it required 11 unique cells. One of the only three overnighters I pulled this quarter involved starting the layout for our design at 8:00 AM with my lab partner, and not finishing the layout until 1:00 PM the next day (29 straight hours of layout). Unfortunately, our effort on this project was not worth the results, since we learned N-P domino logic is not the best choice if you have long wires in your circuit…. Anyway, here is our final project layout:

20 × 20 bit delay-insensitive carry look-ahead adder with speedup circuitry (click to zoom)
I feel if we had more time, we could have optimized this circuit to have a much better delay, but we ended up with a delay of 1.898 ns, area of 453 µm², and power consumption of 322 fJ per computation. We ended up having the second-worst FOM, which was Area×Power×Delay² for this project. I felt that we really chose one of the hardest designs to lay out, and if we had more time for the project, we could have done a lot better with the FOM.
By the end of this project, we felt we really didn’t have much time to spend on the final project, which was a 10×10 2’s compliment multiplier with modified Booth encoding, so we stuck with a static logic implementation for the entire circuit. The most time-consuming part of this project was figuring out how to do 2’s compliment signed multiplication, since all the examples we were shown were for unsigned multiplication. We had to figure out on our own how to implement the partial products for signed multiplication on our own, pretty much, since there was nowhere in our text book or on the internet which explained how to do signed 2’s compliment multiplication.

New Apartment

Hello, everyone;

Yet again, I need to apologize for not blogging in a really long time. Time just tends to fly between posts, and being in Engineering, it feels like I can never find any leisure time to update.

I just moved into my new apartment in the last week. I promised I would upload some photos of my new place. I decided to move off campus for several reasons. One of the primary reasons is that the UW Housing and Food Services decided on a new rule that if you live in the residence halls, you have to subscribe to the university meal plan. The food really isn’t that great, and it is way overpriced. To illustrate, for a simple breakfast of a waffle, scrambled eggs, bacon, and orange juice, you can be charged over $10. I found myself in the habit of eating out every day, since it was cheaper and higher quality than provided by the HFS.

So after a week of searching, a fellow Electrical Enginner colleague and I found a good 2 bedroom apartment at Travigne Apartments. Our place is located on 11th Ave in the University District. After spending a week of searching, we decided on this apartment, since it is unusually high quality for the low price. I’m paying just a little more than I was for the residence halls, but now I am able to cook for myself, plus it is a significant increase in quality.

Main entrance

Our apartment is the one with the balcony on the top floor.

Inside the lobby area

Coming out of the elevator, our apartment is the first door on the left.

My futon, which until just recently, served as a bed rather than a couch. I got the blanket when I was on my first deployment with the USAF to Qatar.

Bookshelf containing the textbooks my roomate and I have been accumulating over the years, as well as leisure reading.

Looking outside to the balcony

Looking down from off the balcony.

My roomate’s grill, so we could eat lots of barbecue.

 

Kitchen area

The coffee pot, which is now used primarily for making tea since I quit coffee.

My desk and dresser area

My bed.

The apartment opens up rooftop access to the residents.

Views from the roof of the apartments. Blessed Sacrament Church (catholic), and a view of downtown Seattle and space needle.
Right now, I’m taking the Summer off from school. I began the Summer Quarter out taking a full load of classes, although I began to have really bad anxiety attacks for some reason while performing coursework. I think the main causes for this anxiety are because for Spring Quarter, I was pushing myself too hard, pulling too many overnight study sessions, and drinking coffee. This combination can make you really go crazy after a while. A couple weeks ago, I decided to quit drinking coffee, because I think that was the main culprit. After I quit coffee and went through a period of withdraw, I felt a lot better.
Now that I’m off, I intend to catch up with a lot of things that due to my course load, I never really could find much time to do: reading, learning new music, exercising, research employment opportunities and organizing unsorted computer files and stacks of papers. I’ll also be looking for Summer jobs painting and doing yard work.
I intend to be complete with all my coursework after Spring Quarter next year, and I will have a Bachelor’s of Science in Electrical Engineering. This next year is going to be my toughest year, since from the looks of it, I have a capstone design class every quarter. I’m intending on getting completing at least two areas of knowledge in the next year in Embedded Systems and Analog Circuit design, and if I feel like it’s not too much, attempt VLSI (Very Large-Scale Integration).
A couple weeks ago, I got called last minute to put together music last minute for a wedding. Due to a misunderstanding, the organist who was expected to do the wedding wasn’t in town for that day, so I was called up as a last resort a week before the wedding. I pretty much chose out all the music, and I got together with a good friend who plays the violin, and we put together a prelude. I recycled pieces I had used for another wedding a couple years ago on Bremerton Naval Base, and tried a couple other pieces that I used for Resurrection that I thought would work. Overall, I got very positive response for the music, so I was glad I could help out and remove that burden from the family.
Speaking of weddings, congratulations to my sister Rachel for her recent engagement to Alex! She is getting married on January 2 at Faith Presbyterian Church. May God shower his blessings on both of you.
In September, my Dad and I are once again hiking the Wonderland Trail (110 mile hike around Mt. Rainier), and we’re planning to spend a week doing that, so I’m trying to put together camping trips and day hike trips to make sure I’m in shape for that. Later this week, I will be at Eagle Creek for two days with my dad and some good friends.
Anyway, that is my spiel for the time being. I’ll try to update more often, although when classes pick up again, I really won’t have any time, so I’ll apologize in advance for not posting in so long, and I hope you understand.

Update

I just happened to notice that my blog was horribly updated, and my last post was from back in August. Last year I took a web programming class to motivate me to create a really decked out web page, but it only taught me that it’s way too time consuming and too much effort. So here I am, using Blogger.com still.

I’m now on Skype, which seems like a really nifty online phone service. If you want, you can reach me with my user name, jfeucht82, and I’ll try to leave it on as much as possible. My philosophy is that I should pay as little on telephone communication as humanly possible. If you’ve ever tried calling me, you’ve probably noticed that I rarely carry my phone on me wherever I go, and I respond to email a lot faster than I do via telephone. I currently own the cheapest AT&T pay-as-you-go phones I could possibly get, and it’s malfunctioning because the ringer doesn’t work anymore for some reason.

I was just looking through my online degree audit (or a listing of classes you still need to graduate), and I figured if I take the right classes, I might be able to graduate the end of Spring Quarter in June. I’ve been following mostly the program requirements of VLSI (Very Large Scale Integrated) Circuits, although the final courses I would need for that program aren’t offered until the Summer or Fall quarter. On the other hand, I could take two engineering courses next quarter, and be done with the program requirements for Embedded Computing Systems, which is another field I have quite a bit of interest in. And I kind of want to exhaust the funds in my GI bill before I get out of the University of Washington, and I have funds to cover me through Fall Quarter this year, if I take classes over the summer.

So that’s something I’m going to have to start thinking about. I’ve been prettying up my résumé and cover letter for possible internships and jobs coming up, and I have some career fairs to attend…

This quarter, I’m taking two engineering courses, and a writing course (I have to take two technical writing courses). I’m also taking my first 400-level UW course, E E 471 Computer Design and Organization. This class seems like it’s going to be quite a bit of work. We’re learning how to design our own microprocessor using Verilog, which is a computer language designed specifically for modeling digital circuits. Over the course of four lab assignments, we will design critical components of the processor. The class pretty much deals with figuring out how a processor processes machine code, and how all the components in a processor interact with each other.

The other engineering course I’m taking is E E 332 Devices and Circuits II, which is a continuation of an engineering class I took last quarter. This class deals primarily with designing circuits with BJTs (Bipolar Junction Transistors), which are pretty much electronic parts that amplify signals. Our final design project is to design and build an audio amplifier.

Anyway, that’s all I have to say for now. Sometime in the near future, I might come up with something that’s actually interesting to talk about and blog about it, but as for now, if you’re too bored, you can check out my AC to DC in my previous post and marvel at how incredibly interesting it is.

My very first blog post

Happy Thanksgiving weekend! I found a little bit of free time since I was given a five-day weekend, so I decided I’d finally cave in and submerge myself in the blogosphere. I had a web page a while back, but I haven’t had very much time or effort to keep it updated regularly; a web page is a lot more maintenance. I guess the growing trend for keeping a personal diary or journal is to submit your entries to the entire world so that anybody can read what you have to say and then leave comments on your blog, leaving the poster with some sense of social satisfaction. Being a social networking participant myself (YouTube, MySpace, and now I guess Blogger.com), I am quite aware of how cruel people can be, especially on the internet (having submitted degenerative comments myself, in the spirit of love of course), so I don’t see how many people have the audacity to upload their soul onto the internet when they could get a little diary equipped with a lock and key and then hide it under your pillow, considering how sensitive most people are to criticism. I find it interesting that nowadays people are willing to share things that 10 years ago they would have kept under lock and key. I guess this trend is a facet of what Neil Postman described as the surrender of culture to technology…

Well, anyway, today I sawed down the tree my sister Sarah and Andrew proposed under. My dad declared the death sentence and I was the executioner. They don’t even know I did it yet, but I can imagine how they will feel when the figure out that one of the things that brought joy to their lives has been destroyed without a second thought, and now some of their best memories can never be revisited. To the left is the photograph of the same tree taken by my sister the day she was engaged. Now what’s left of it is a pile of small debris. How sad.

This weekend, Sarah, Andrew, my parents and I are heading down to Portland, OR for the weekend to visit my Grandma, and introduce her to Samuel, my new nephew and her new great grandchild. Looking forward to some good times with relatives. Then on Monday, I’m going to be visiting a cemetery for my Archaeology class, taking photos of various grave stones, then apply seriation to determine if there is any correlation between head stone styles and time. Then I got finals to these next couple weeks, so I got a fair deal of cramming and information overload to look forward to in the near future.