High-level design tools offer field programmable gate array (FPGA) technology to engineers and scientists who have little or no digital hardware design expertise. Whether you use graphical programming, C, or VHSIC hardware description language (VHDL), the synthesis process is quite complex and can leave you wondering how FPGAs really work.

What actually happens inside the chip to make programs execute within configurable blocks of silicon? This white paper is intended for the nondigital designer who wants to understand the fundamental parts of an FPGA and how it all works “under the hood.” This information, also helpful when using high-level design tools, is intended to shed some light on the inner workings of this extraordinary technology.