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Preface - Pg. xi

PREFACE Xilinx, Inc. introduced the Field-Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) in 1984 as an advanced pro- grammable logic device. It is now part of a multi-billion dollar market and FPGAs have made their way into products as diverse as digital cameras, automobiles, and network switches that drive the Internet. FPGAs have even flown to Mars (Ratter, 2004). Almost since its inception, people have recognized the potential of using these devices to build custom computing architectures, but to date the market is overwhelmingly "glue logic" and prototyping. Nonetheless, advances in process technology have yielded modern FPGAs with very large capacities and a wide range of features built into the chip. The confluence of these features -- which include multiple processors, large amounts of memory, hundreds of multipliers, and high-speed I/O -- have reached a critical mass: now more than ever, Platform FPGAs are poised to realize a more prominent role in computing systems. This ability to deploy sophisticated computing systems on a single FPGA device is likely to make a significant impact on embedded computing systems. While small (indeed tiny) 8 and 16 bit computing systems are and will remain a very important segment of the embedded systems market, trends over the last several years suggest that the use of standard, off-the-shelf 32-bit processors for embedded systems is growing fast. These higher-end embedded systems come with high levels of integration, often incorporating a significant portion of the system on a (fixed and manufactured) chip. There are many benefits to this level of integration but one significant