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This paper presents the design of a system intended to be used as a prosthesis allowing profoundly visually impaired patients to recover partial vision by means of microstimulation in the primary visual cortex area. The main component of the system is a bio-electronic device to be implanted inside the skull of the user, composed of a plurality of stimulation modules, whose actions are controlled via an interface module. Power and data are transmitted to the implant wirelessly through a bidirectional inductive link, allowing diagnosis of the stimulating device and its environment after implantation, as well as power delivery optimization. A high level of flexibility is supported in terms of stimulation parameters, but a configurable communication protocol allows the device to be used with maximum efficiency. The core of an external controller implemented in a system on a programmable chip is also presented, performing data conversion and timing management such that phosphene intensity can be modulated by any parameter defining stimulation, either at the pulse level or in the time domain. Measured performances achieved with a prototype using two types of custom ASICs implemented in a 0.18-mum CMOS process and commercial components fulfill the requirements for a complete visual prosthesis for humans. When on/off activation is used with predefined parameters, stimuli measured on an electronic test bench could attain a rate in excess of 500 k pulses/s.