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Learning in digital systems design and reconfigurable computing can be enhanced through applying a learn-by-doing approach on practical hardware systems. This paper presents the web-based RemoteFPGA lab which enables users to interact with a range of demonstrator digital hardware systems, operating in real time on an FPGA. The RemoteFPGA lab provides interactive control of system inputs, and monitoring of signals at any level of the design hierarchy. Users can also integrate their own HDL design descriptions within a RemoteFPGA HDL-based project template, for synthesis and implementation on the RemoteFPGA. Users can create a system block diagram for upload to the RemoteFPGA server. Interactive control and monitor signal icons can be overlayed on the block diagram to provide real-time demonstrations of the user designs. The RemoteFPGA lab provides enhanced visualisation and interaction with FPGA hardware compared to other reported remote FPGA laboratory systems. The paper describes the RemoteFPGA lab elements and demonstrates its use to support learning using two application case studies for illustration.
Date of Conference: 20-22 June 2011