An FPGA is an integrated circuit made up of many unconfigured logic gates. Unlike the fixed, vendor-defined circuitry of an ASIC (application-specific integrated circuit) chip, the logic on FPGAs is reconfigurable. Engineers use FPGAs in applications where either the cost of developing and fabricating an ASIC is prohibitive or hardware will change after being placed in service.

The flexible, software-programmable architecture of FPGAs offers benefits such as high-performance execution of custom algorithms, precise timing and synchronization, rapid decision making, and simultaneous execution of parallel tasks. Today, FPGAs appear in numerous devices including instruments, consumer electronics, automobiles, aircraft, copy machines, and application-specific computer hardware.