If you come from the world of microcontroller development boards like the Arduino, you’re used to serial processing, where instructions are processed one at time, following the procedure that you write in code. For some applications, such as with video or sound processing, it’s hard for a microcontroller to process data fast enough. Enter the FPGA, short for field-programmable gate array. An FPGA can process data and take action on it, with multiple operations happening in parrallel.
If you’re interested in learning more about what an FPGA can do, you can visit Michael Jones in the Maker Pavilion this weekend at World Maker Faire New York. He’ll be showing off the FPGA MARK-1, which he designed with Eli Hughes. FPGA MARK-1 is a “development platform designed with students, makers, hobbyists and mad scientists in mind.” In addition, he’ll be demoing an expansion board suited for educational use which allows you to connect a PS/2 mouse, keyboard, VGA video, audio, and Nintendo game controllers to the board. While he’s never been to a Maker Faire before, he says he’s “looking forward to being part of an event that brings so much creativity, talent, ambition from worldwide locations localized into one spot.”