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Designers of embedded and real-time systems are continually challenged to meet tighter system requirements at better price-performance ratios. Best-practice methods have long promoted the use of commercial-off-the-shelf components to reduce design costs and time to market, but creating COTS components that are reusable in a wide range of applications remains difficult. In part, the challenge lies in satisfying the contradictory design forces of generalization and specialization. Systems designers are all too familiar with the tension these opposing forces cause in trying to balance cost versus performance. Adopting COTS components reduces costs and time to market but often fails to meet the most demanding performance requirements; custom-designed components can achieve significantly higher performance but at greater development costs and longer times to market. Emerging hybrid chips containing both CPU and field-programmable gate array (FPGA) components are an exciting new development. They promise COTS economies of scale while also supporting significant hardware customization. Components that combine a CPU and reconfigurable logic gates need a programming model that abstracts the computational hardware.