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Field Programmable Gate Arrays in Embedded Designs

A Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) is an integrated circuit that is designed to be configured by the customer or designer after manufacture. FGPAs contain an array of programmable logic blocks, together with network of reconfigurable interconnects that allow the blocks to be 'wired together' in different configurations. The logic blocks can confiured to perform simple logic gates, or complex combinational functions. Modern FPGA devices even allow embedded processors to be implemented. The FPGA configuration is generaly specified using a Harware Description Language (HDL), such as VHDL or Verilog HDL which are used to write text models that describe the logic circuit functionality that is required. Logic synthesis tools are then used to convert the HDL to gate level description for the eventual genaration of the FPGA configuration file.

The Virtex 6 shown on the right hand side is one of Xilinx's high performance FPGA family. Operating with clock speeds up to 600MHz, they feature between 12 and 48 6.6Gbps GTX tranceivers (depending on the version used), which can be used as High definition (HD) video inputs or outputs, making this device ideal for implementing video processing applications.