As I've mentioned in the past, I believe that field-programmable gate arrays will find broader applicability as silicon platforms and become more attractive targets for embedded systems developers. Moore's law is driving down their cost, increasing the number of available logic blocks, and reducing power consumption.
With an abundance of real estate available, soft microprocessor cores are finding homes in FPGA applications. Soft processor cores on FPGAs are gaining surprisingly fast acceptance; their current and anticipated use is showing up in significant numbers in the annual Embedded Systems Programming subscriber study.
Logic configuration and microcontroller programming are likely to converge into a single process on FPGAs. In anticipation of that trend, tools are coming to market that support C programming of FPGAs.
A recent tutorial on FGPA programming by Ed Klingman published here proved useful to a number of readers. A senior systems engineer who reads Embedded Systems Programming highlights the growing importance of FPGAs: “An FPGA can reduce the chip count by serving as the glue logic as well as incorporating other pieces of the system. There is a wide range of available soft and hard IP cores, including microprocessors, that allows you to pull all these functions into a single chip. (You mention only a µC core on the silicon, but of course, you can pour soft IP into free gates and tailor a µC's size and functions to the application at hand.) In addition, FPGAs can implement DSP-like functions, including ones well beyond the scope of all but the most powerful DSPs.”
The letter is letter is published in its entirety at the end of Klingman's article.