Xilinx Co-Founder Ross Freeman Honored as 2009 National Inventors Hall of Fame Inductee for Invention of FPGA

SAN JOSE, Calif. , Feb. 11 /PRNewswire/ -- Xilinx (Nasdaq: XLNX) today announced that Xilinx co-founder Ross Freeman has been named a 2009 National Inventors Hall of Fame inductee for inventing the field programmable gate array (FPGA), a...


SAN JOSE, Calif. , Feb. 11 /PRNewswire/ -- Xilinx (Nasdaq: XLNX) today announced that Xilinx co-founder Ross Freeman has been named a 2009 National Inventors Hall of Fame inductee for inventing the field programmable gate array (FPGA), a configurable electrical circuit having configurable logic elements and configurable interconnects. The not-for-profit National Inventors Hall of Fame is the premier organization in America dedicated to honoring and fostering creativity and invention. Each year a new class of inventors is inducted into the hall of fame in recognition of patented inventions that make human, social and economic progress possible.

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Freeman's invention -- Patent No. 4,870,302 -- is a computer chip full of 'open gates' that engineers can reprogram as much as needed to add new functionality, adapt to changing standards or specifications and make last minute design changes. More than 25 years ago, Freeman correctly postulated that the cost of transistors would steadily decrease over time, due to Moore's Law (doubling of transistor density every two years), making the FPGA an affordable and flexible alternative to custom chips for a wide range of applications.

"It was a radical concept that required lots of transistors at a time when transistors were considered extremely precious," recalls Xilinx Fellow Bill Carter, who became the company's eighth employee upon joining Xilinx in 1984. "Ross challenged the predominant belief that 'fewer transistors are better.' Even though many considered it outlandish, he was convinced the technology would stand the test of time. Today's news of Ross' induction into the National Inventors Hall of Fame is a testament to his wisdom and foresight."

At an annual ceremony taking place on May 2, 2009 in Silicon Valley, a new class of 15 inventors will be inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame -- including Intel Chairman Emeritus Gordon Moore -- bringing the total number of National Inventors Hall of Fame inductees to 405.

"We're delighted to honor Ross Freeman as a 2009 inductee," said Fred Allen , vice president of selection of the National Inventors Hall of Fame. "His vision and creative drive led to the invention of the programmable chip, a technology that has not only influenced the future of the electronics industry over more than 25 years, but has fueled inventive end products designed by Xilinx customers that continue to improve our quality of life."

"With a single patent, Ross ignited a spirit of innovation that built an industry," added Xilinx President and CEO Moshe Gavrielov . "That spirit is alive and well today at Xilinx with employees who, like Ross, have the courage to imagine and create the 'impossible.' We're grateful to the National Inventors Hall of Fame for recognizing the tremendous contribution Ross has brought to the industry and our company -- a tribute that's especially meaningful as we mark our 25th anniversary and enter a new era of electronics in which programmability has become an imperative."

Invention of FPGA Lays Foundation for 25 Years of Innovation at Xilinx

When Freeman co-founded Xilinx, Inc. with Bernie Vonderschmitt and Jim Barnett in 1984, his field programmable gate array invention not only laid the foundation for a new company, but an entirely new industry. Today, the company holds more than 2,000 patents and commands more than 50 percent market segment share in the multi-billion-dollar programmable logic device (PLD) industry. Xilinx chips are used in a variety of end markets -- including automotive, consumer, industrial, medical, aerospace/defense and wired/wireless communications -- for applications ranging from automotive infotainment, driver assistance and flat panel displays to medical imaging, video surveillance, and wireless base stations.

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