There’s an interesting article on embedded.com about why you should consider a FPGA as your embedded processor. The authors, Jeff Bier and Jennifer Eyre of Berkeley Design Technology, state the advantages of a FPGA over a processor chip are:
- many options for on-chip peripherals and interfaces
- flexibility in changing interfaces later (vs being wedded to a static processor design)
One of the disadvantage of FPGAs is that you had to be a hardware engineer to use one. However, according to the article, that is changing. New tools are coming out that enable software engineers to customize the hardware on the FPGA.
The authors go on to explain other disadvantages of FPGAs, but believe FPGAs can be serious competitors for conventional processors. The article is a good read.