FPGAs and the Era of Field Programmability
The progress of the semiconductor industry over the last several decades has been described as a series of alternating cycles of standardization and customization. According to Makimoto’s wave, as the model is known, we are now in an era of field programmability. This cycle is characterized by standardization in manufacturing and customization in application. The application drivers for this second digital wave are networking, digital consumer electronics and the convergence of communications and computing technologies.
Xilinx has been the foremost company in field programmable logic since inventing the FPGA over twenty years ago. Today, Xilinx FPGAs are the key technology enabling the era of programmability. From this vantage point, we begin this talk by surveying the key technologies that define the state-of-the-art in field programmable logic. We proceed to explore future directions and consider some of the most important research challenges that lie ahead.
Solutions to the research challenges will require the best efforts of many talented minds around the world. Continued collaboration between academia and industry is vital at the graduate research level. Equally important is the need to ensure that young engineers are adequately prepared for the era of programmability. We close by describing some of the novel work emerging from Xilinx research and the initiatives that we are taking to ensure the ongoing success of our partnership with academia worldwide.