The new chips—made by a startup called Tabula—are a cheaper, more powerful competitor to an existing type of reprogrammable chip known as a field programmable gate array (FPGA). FPGAs are sometimes shipped in finished devices when that is cheaper than building a new chip from scratch—usually things that are expensive and sell in low volumes such as CT scanners. More commonly, FPGAs simply provide a way to prototype a design before making a conventional fixed microchip.
If programmable chips were more powerful and less costly they could be used in more devices, in more creative ways, says Steve Teig, founder and chief technology officer of Tabula. His company's reprogrammable design is considerably smaller than that of an FPGA. "FPGAs are very expensive because they are large pieces of silicon," says Teig, "and silicon [wafer] costs roughly $1 billion an acre." The time it takes for signals to traverse the relatively large surface of an FPGA also limits its performance, he says. Read More Here