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A need to communicate

Bringing reconfigurability to the data path. By Philip Ling.

There has been a significant shift in the programmable logic world recently. Famed for its configurable nature, and spurred on by ever increasing gate counts and on chip memory, the programmable device can tackle almost any task. Any task, that is, within the control path. Historically, programmable technology hasn't had the performance to make it suitable for use in the data path, that task has remained the domain of the asic and application specific standard part (assp).

That could be about to change as the programmable community gears up to bring the advantages of reconfigurable devices to the data path. Making that happen means adding a certain amount of physical layer support to the architecture, functionality that can't be created in uncommitted logic gates, at least not at the speeds needed today. Extending the phy support offered in hardware is a direct reflection of the market sector whichis driving fpga developments; communications.

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Graham Pitcher

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