Published in March 2015
Stephen M. Trimberger
Since their introduction, field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) have grown in capacity by more than a factor of 10 000 and in performance by a factor of 100. Cost and energy per operation have both decreased by more than a factor of 1000. These advances have been fueled by process technology scaling, but the FPGA story is much more complex than simple technology scaling. Quantitative effects of Moore's Law have driven qualitative changes in FPGA architecture, applications and tools. As a consequence, FPGAs have passed through several distinct phases of development. These phases, termed “Ages” in this paper, are The Age of Invention, The Age of Expansion and The Age of Accumulation. This paper summarizes each and discusses their driving pressures and fundamental characteristics. The paper concludes with a vision of the upcoming Age of FPGAs.