Xilinx, Inc. introduced the Field-Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) in 1984 as an advanced programmable logic device. It is now part of a multi-billion dollar market and FPGAs have made their way into products as diverse as digital cameras, automobiles, and network switches that drive the Internet. FPGAs have even flown to Mars (Ratter, 2004).

Almost since its inception, people have recognized the potential of using these devices to build custom computing architectures, but to date the market is overwhelmingly “glue logic” and prototyping. Nonetheless, advances in process technology have yielded modern FPGAs with very large capacities and a wide range of features built into the chip. The confluence of these features — which include multiple ...

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