Thompson A. (1997) An evolved circuit, intrinsic in silicon, entwined with physics. In: Higuchi T., Iwata M., Liu W. (eds) Evolvable Systems: From Biology to Hardware. ICES 1996. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, vol 1259. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg
‘Intrinsic’ Hardware Evolution is the use of artificial evolution — such as a Genetic Algorithm — to design an electronic circuit automatically, where each fitness evaluation is the measurement of a circuit's performance when physically instantiated in a real reconfigurable VLSI chip. This paper makes a detailed case-study of the first such application of evolution directly to the configuration of a Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA). Evolution is allowed to explore beyond the scope of conventional design methods, resulting in a highly efficient circuit with a richer structure and dynamics and a greater respect for the natural properties of the implementation medium than is usual. The application is a simple, but not toy, problem: a tone-discrimination task. Practical details are considered throughout.