|Well, in some cases a programmed FPGA is a stored program computer. We recently
designed a simple one at work, because there was too much slow, sequential
processing to fit directly into the FPGA, whereas a simple CPU and set of
bytecode instructions (in external flash, but could have been on board if the
project design rules allowed it) could do the job nicely.|
And, you get large
FPGAs with several PowerPC cores and blocks of RAM and flash on board.
that the instruction and register set, defined by the fuse map, could be
patented, like any CPU, but the stored program part of the thing should still be
not patentable, as it is only a stored program. Part of the programmed code
changes the device structure, the other part does not.
Some FPGAs are
routinely reprogrammed while the system runs, which generally needs an external
microcontroller to load the new firmware, which in that case would be data, not
patentable, in the microcontroller, and become a fuse map, possibly patentable,
when loaded into the FPGA.
Not simple, and from what we have seen so far,
there is probably noy a court in the US, or elsewhere, with the technical
competence to handle a case involving FPGAs, as they can't even manage to get
the simpler software case right.
[ Reply to This | Parent | # ]