One of the advantages of the programmable logic device is its ability to be repurposed. Users can download a new bitstream to the device and it can perform different tasks.

It's a facility which has always been available, but not really highlighted. But the approach is suddenly at the forefront - Altera made a lot of it in its recent 28nm announcement and now a new player has entered the fray, claiming reconfigurability as a major selling point. Tabula says its Spacetime technology - which can reconfigure logic, memory and interconnect at multiGHz rates - 'will enable a new class of programmable devices that combines the capability of an asic with the ease of use of an fpga at price points suitable for volume production'. There's a number of companies doing good things in the fpga market, but with little success. Having the technology is one thing; being able to muscle in on a market dominated by two other companies is another.