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A field-programmable gate array (FPGA) is an integrated circuit that can be programmed or reprogrammed to the required functionality or application after manufacturing. Important characteristics of field-programmable gate arrays include lower complexity, higher speed, volume designs and programmable functions. With more technological advances, field-programmable gate arrays are a convenient proposition for most designs and markets.
A field-programmable gate array consists of logic blocks which are programmable, reconfigurable interconnects and input/output pads.The logic blocks used in a field-programmable gate array could consist of memory elements such as flip-flops or memory blocks. The logic blocks are capable of performing simple to complex computational functions. Field-programmable gate arrays are in many ways similar to programmable read-only memory chips. However, unlike programmable read-only memory chips, which are limited to hundreds of gates, a field-programmable gate array can support several thousand gates. Another salient feature of field-programmable gate arrays is the ability to be reprogrammed, unlike application-specific integrated circuits which are manufactured for specific tasks.
A field-programmable gate array can help computer users in tailoring the capabilities of microprocessors to meet specific individual needs. In fact, engineers use field-programmable gate arrays in designing specialized integrated circuits. Other advantages of using field-programmable gate arrays include a more predictable life cycle due to removal of wafer capabilities, potential respins, faster time to market compared to other options and simple design cycle.
Field-programmable gate arrays are used in a wide range of applications, and in markets such as aerospace, defense, data centers, automotive, medical and wireless communications.