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We explain how modern programmable logic devices have capabilities that are well suited for them to assume a central role in the implementation of networked systems, now and in the future. To date, such devices have featured largely in ASIC substitution roles within networked systems; this usage has been highly successful, allowing faster times to market and reduced engineering costs. We argue that there are many additional opportunities for productively using these devices. The requirement is exposure of their high inherent computational concurrency matched by concurrent memory accessibility, their rich on-chip interconnectivity and their complete programmability, at a higher level of abstraction that matches the implementation needs of networked systems. We discuss specific examples supporting this view, and present a highly flexible soft platform architecture at an appropriate level of abstraction from physical devices. This may be viewed as a particularly configurable and programmable type of network processor, offering scope both for innovative networked system implementation and for new directions in networking research. In particular, it is aimed at facilitating scalable solutions, matching differently resourced programmable logic devices to differing performance and sophistication requirements of networked systems, from cheap consumer appliances to high-end network switching.