You won't even know you're running your sketch on an FPGA until you fire up one or more of the accelerated functions... and then the magic happens.
Do you recall my recent column about the FPGA-based XLR8 ("accelerate")? This little scamp, which is being created by the folks at Alorium Technology is a rather cunning drop-in replacement for an Arduino Uno with a twist.
The XLR8 is an Arduino Uno clone, with a twist
(Source: Alorium Technology)
This little scamp is an Arduino-compatible board that uses a Field-Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) as the main processing chip. In addition to replicating the functionality of the 8-bit ATmega328 microcontroller used in a regular Arduino Uno, the FPGA also provides the ability to implement custom logic that accelerates specific functionality known to be slow or otherwise problematic for the standard ATmega328 MCU.
The FPGA-based hardware acceleration and offload provided by the XLR8 results in significantly improved performance in the same physical footprint and using the same tool chain as standard Arduino Uno boards. As the guys and gals at Alorium Technology say:
If you have a project that's using an Uno, you can swap in an XLR8 board right out of the box, and it will just work. You won't even know you're actually running your sketch on an FPGA, at least not until you fire up one of the accelerated functions... and then the magic happens.
I've actually held one of these little rascals in my hands (an XLR8, not one of the folks from Alorium Technology). Jason and Matt from Alorium brought a few to show off to everyone at the recent Programmable Logic Meet-up, which was held at last week's ESC Minneapolis Conference and Exhibition.
Of particular interest is that the chaps and chapesses at Alorium have just launched their XLR8 Kickstarter Project. I can't wait to stick one of these little beauties into one of my own projects (once again, I'm talking about an XLR8, not one of the folks from Alorium), such as my Cunning Chronograph, for example. Watch this space for ongoing developments...
— Max Maxfield, Editor of All Things Fun & Interesting