Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) History and Applications

23/02/2018, hardwarebee

A field programmable gate array or FPGA is an integrated circuit that the designer will configure after the manufacturing process has been completed. Hardware description language (HDL) is part of the FPGA configuration which is a programing language that describes the FPGA behavior.


FPGA consists of programmable logic blocks alongside a matrix of interconnects that connects everything inside the device so that it can be customized to a specific function.


Some logic blocks are simple gates, like XOR or AND, or might be used in creating complex functions that combine different elements. Over the years, advances in computer technology have led to a myriad of new electronic devices and the FPGA has been at the heart of so many of them. This technical revolution would have been much harder to achieve without the creation of the FPGA.


FPGA History

By the 1980s, the FPGA industry has been born through the established programmable logic devices (PLD) and the programmable read only memory (PROM). Unlike PLD and PROM which had to be hard-wired programmed during manufacturing, FPGA allowed the programming to happen later in the process, even by the consumer, this allowed designer to add features (or fix bugs) after the product deployment.



Image credit: Altera



The first reprogrammable logic device was crated in 1984 by a company called Altera. It was the EP300 and offered a window that let an ultra-violet light onto EPROM cells, so they could be erased. The cells contained the design configuration which meant that it could be changed when needed. The foundation of FPGA was expanded by LuVerne R. Peterson and David W. Page in 1985 who created patents for logic blocks, gates, and programmable logic arrays.


In the late 1980s, the concept of FPGA was created through an experiment suggested by Steve Casselman with funding from the Naval Surface Warfare Center. His proposal was do create a computing device with over 600,000 reprogrammable gates. His work was successful, and he patented the creation in 1992.


By the mid-1990s, FPGA had exploded and revolutionized the industry. While networking and telecommunications were the biggest beneficiaries at the time, FPGA had expanded into automotive, industrial, and consumer applications for all types of electronic devices.


FPGA Applications

You can find FPGA in any devices which are computable because they are faster for certain applications and optimize the number of gates being used, you can find them in numerous industries or applications such as the following:


  • Aerospace, Outer Space, and Defense
  • Audio, Automotive, and Broadcast
  • Consumer Electronics, Data Centers, and High-Performance Computing
  • Instruments of Science, Industrial, and Medical
  • Security Applications, Wired & Wireless Communications, and More

So many different fields have been touched by FPGA and the list continues to grow as electronic devices make their way into more aspects of people’s lives.


Looking for FPGA design companies or consultants, try this page:  https://hardwarebee.com/vendor_category/fpga-design-services/

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