Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs) are semiconductor devices that are based around a matrix of configurable logic blocks (CLBs) connected via programmable interconnects. FPGAs can be reprogrammed to desired application or functionality requirements after manufacturing.
This feature distinguishes FPGAs from Application Specific Integrated Circuits (ASICs), which are custom manufactured for specific design tasks. Although one-time programmable (OTP) FPGAs are available, the dominant types are SRAM based which can be reprogrammed as the design evolves.
In contrast to processors that you find in your PC, programming an FPGA rewires the chip itself to implement your functionality rather than run a software application. Ross Freeman, the cofounder of Xilinx, invented the first FPGA in 1985. NI has partnered with Xilinx to offer their cutting-edge FPGA technology in a variety of hardware platforms.
Top 5 Benefits of Using FPGAs
FPGA chip adoption across all industries is driven by the fact that FPGAs combine the best parts of application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs) and processor-based systems. These benefits include the following:
- Faster I/O response times and specialized functionality
- Exceeding the computing power of digital signal processors
- Rapid prototyping and verification without the fabrication process of custom ASIC design
- Implementing custom functionality with the reliability of dedicated deterministic hardware
- Field-upgradable eliminating the expense of custom ASIC re-design and maintenance