FPGA stands for field-programmable gate array. A user can program this type of integrated circuit for a specific use after the FPGA has been manufactured. Currently, FPGAs contain adaptive logic modules (ALMs) and logic elements (LEs) connected via programmable interconnects. These blocks create a customizable physical array of logic gates to perform specific computing tasks. Thanks to this feature, FPGAs are very different from other microcontrollers or central processing units (CPUs), whose configuration is set and sealed by a manufacturer and cannot be modified.
- Long-term availability – An FPGA’s functionality lies in its configuration, not in the module itself.
- Shorter time-to-market – with an FPGA on board it is possible to develop the prototypes more quickly in cases when the hardware development relies on the IP core’s design.
- Acceleration – An FPGA enables higher speeds compared to solutions based on general purpose processors.
The FPGA market is expanding – significant manufacturers of standard CPUs are expanding their product portfolio by acquiring companies specializing in FPGAs.
Development of network-specific circuits – besides programmable logic cells, FPGAs will also contain highly specialized silicon elements, i.e. network interface controllers.
Ability to implement even more complex functionalities – FPGA circuits will contain more logic gates so that developers can put more network functionalities in a single circuit or piece of hardware equipment.