You say "a tremendous number of things occurred in 2012"? I would say that this year will be even more dramatic with economical and environment collisions etc. I try to still be more optimistic but it's getting harder, day after day.. travel insurance
As for "How to connect a microcontroller to an FPGA," I think engineers have been doing that forever. I've used interfaces ranging from I2C (micro as master, FPGA as slave) to standard UARTs to the SiLabs 8051's EMIF (which lets you use FPGA BRAM as XDATA memory for the micro, among other things) to PPC and ARM peripheral buses.
In other words, whatever.
ARM's Cortex-A profile pushes beyond the boundaries of anyone's definition of "microcontroller"; IMHO any CPU that has an MMU exceeds that classification.
The Programmer's Guide is certainly an excellent document -- but not for the faint-of-heart; ARM expertise can only be acquired with a long apprenticeship...
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