bjjones37 wrote:How long is an FPGA system likely to last? With the constant reprogramming and regular usage, how long before those gates and latches tightly integrated into that massive chip begin to break down? It occurs to me that FPGAs were originally developed to model and design circuits and systems for production, so they really do not need to last all that long. So what kind of reasonable lifespan can I anticipate from a MiST or MisTer, or Zemmix? Will I still be using my MiST unit 30 years from now like I am my Atari 800XL or Atari 520ST?
The low cost FPGA devices that we typically use don't have any kind of internal component that would make them last less than any other digital chip, like, say, a CPU. Programming is internally stored on static RAM. You can reprogram the FPGA constantly and I doubt it would affect the lifespan significantly.
Some more expensive FPGA devices have internal flash or fuses that are used for instance, for storing encryption keys. Some FPGAs (not the ones on the MiST or MiSTer) have non volatile internal configuration storage as it is more common on CPLDs. In these cases there is obviously an issue of endurance and retention.
I don't know if you would be able to use your MiST in 30 years. But in any case, I would expect analog component, and even connectors, would fail before the FPGA itself.