The use of Field-Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGA) is growing. Their unique mix of configurable programmable logic, memory and network connectivity makes them a serious alternative to traditional microprocessors where large amounts of parallel processing are needed. They are widely used for video encoding, digital signal processing, neural networks, medical devices, scientific instruments, avionics and much more.
Demand is skyrocketing, not least thanks to Amazon offering its EC2 F1 virtual machines with FPGA coprocessors. Microsoft has used FPGAs extensively within Azure. On the networking side, an increasing number of off-the-shelf devices contain FPGAs to perform tasks such as switching, routing, buffering, filtering and more. FPGAs have the key advantage that they are inherently reconfigurable. Bugs in their application logic can be fixed, features added or platforms reconfigured to implement a different application. From the perspective of FPGA application developers, this results in fewer design compromises as they now have the ability to adapt functionality to changing requirements.
We wrote an article to introduce four different networked applications that are seeing increasing growth in the use of FPGAs in 2018.
- FPGAs enabling software-defined networking
- FPGAs in latency-sensitive automated trading
- FPGAs for network capture and timestamping
- FPGAs for networked video