Publication Date

Spring 2012

Degree Type

Master's Project

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Computer Science


FPGAs (Field Programmable Gate Arrays) are finding wide acceptance in medical systems for their ability for rapid prototyping of a concept that requires hardware/software co-design, for performing custom processing in parallel at high data rates and be programmed in the field after manufacturing. Based on the market demand, the FPGA design can be changed and no new hardware needs to be purchased as was the case with ASICs (Application Specific Integrated Circuit) and CPLDs (Complex Programmable Logic Device). Medical companies can now move over to FPGAs saving cost and delivering highly-efficient upgradable systems. ECG (Electrocardiogram) is considered to be a must have feature for a medical diagnostic imaging system. This project attempts at implementing ECG heart-rate computation in an FPGA. This project gave me exposure to hardware engineering, learning about the low level chips like Atmel UC3A3256 micro-controller on an Atmel EVK1105 board which is used as a simulator for generating the ECG signal, the operational amplifiers for amplifying and level-shifting the ECG signal, the A/D converter chip for analog to digital conversion of the ECG signal, the internal workings of FPGA, how different hardware components communicate with each other on the system and finally some signal processing to calculate the heart rate value from the ECG signal.