What is FPGA prototyping, and why should I care?
Not long after the introduction of FPGAs in the late 1980s, engineers seized upon these devices for building system prototypes of ASIC and SoC designs. Containing vast amounts of configurable logic, these versatile components were a natural choice for building and testing the latest designs. As designs grew in both size and complexity, FPGAs also grew to provide ever-increasing (equivalent) gate counts.
With earlier generations of FPGAs, it often took a large array of devices to fully accommodate a logic design. However, using today's devices with their mega-million gate counts, it may require only a handful of devices -- or even just one -- to implement a complete design.
The utility of a working FPGA prototype is undisputed. It allows hardware designers to develop and test their systems, and it provides software developers early access to a fully functioning hardware platform.
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