Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Electrical Engineering (MSEE)

Degree Level



Electrical Engineering


H. Alan Mantooth

Committee Member

Chris Farnell

Second Committee Member

Jia Di


Communication Protocol;Embedded Systems;Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA);Modbus RTU


The Modbus communication protocol is a widely adopted communication standard in industrial control systems. This communication protocol is known for being reliable and straightforward to implement while being versatile in terms of its operating parameters while supporting multiple formats over various hardware infrastructures and architectures. Many intelligent devices such as Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs), Human-Machine Interfaces (HMIs), Internet-of-Things (IoT), and various Operational Technologies (OT) utilize Modbus for their communication systems. These types of systems must communicate with each other through a standardized and central communication process. To support the integration of these modular systems, a Field-Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) can act as an embedded central routing fabric for this communication to take place. Embedded systems are versatile enough to interface with various devices and systems to accomplish various goals. Additionally, embedded systems require relatively small physical designs to minimize the required resources to facilitate the intended application by providing low-level system access. This minimization of system resources goes hand in hand with reducing the financial cost of a proposed solution or system. As remotely collaborating researchers often use FPGAs to prototype designs that are required to have a method for data transmission among systems, it is imperative to provide a baseline standard for communications among devices and systems. A typical method of implementing the Modbus RTU communication protocol in an embedded environment is using integrated logic architectures within the FPGA called “Intellectual Property (IP) cores.” IP cores can be designed using integrated logic or circuit designs to function as an embedded processor. These IP cores can then perform the required computational actions to support the Modbus RTU communication protocol by utilizing high-level programming languages such as the C programming language. The hardware description language of Very High-Speed Integrated Circuit Hardware Description Language (VHDL) allows for the control of real hardware at the logic gate and signal level. These logic gates and signals can be designed and controlled to perform desired actions based on the system design. Programming an FPGA using VHDL allows an individual to access the lowest abstraction level of the system during FPGA development. This level of abstraction is referred to as the register-transfer level (RTL), which gives access to manipulating values and variables at the register level. This register-level manipulation provides precision over creating the logical circuit within the FPGA, thus minimizing the required code to perform desired operations. The Modbus RTU communication protocol can be implemented within an FPGA using VHDL programming to establish a standardized and embedded serial communication pathway. This implementation provides a standardized communication protocol to streamline research efforts among researchers, thus increasing the efficiency of research efforts. Additionally, this Modbus RTU implementation requires fewer resources when compared to typical communication protocol implementations that utilize an IP core, reducing the hardware requirement for effective research efforts.