Why just write code for a processor that can only execute one instruction at a time and takes microseconds to milliseconds to do anything useful, when you can design your very own chip that can do numerous operations in parallel on a nanosecond timescale?
Created by San Diego State University Aztec faculty, alumni, and students, the Ahtlatl board provides everything you need to design and use your own digital application specific integrated circuit. Unlike other similar boards, this one can be programmed using a simple USB flash drive, and once programmed, the USB drive can be removed and it will self-configure and operate as designed by the user every time it is powered up.
The complete board specifications and user manual, along with some getting started video tutorials are available at DIYchips.com. An FTDI VNC2 16 bit dual USB microcontroller with built-in RTOS is configured with one USB device port and one USB host port. The FPGA board is very flexible, and contains only those components necessary to power, initialize and communicated with the FPGA, plus two 50 pin 0.1" dual row connectors on the FPGA I/O pins so that the boards can be stacked or connected to other boards, including the optional I/O board. The I/O pins are paired so that it is possible to use the high speed controlled impedance differential signalling capability of the FPGA. An optional adapter is also available to allow the FPGA board to be plugged into a standard solder-less breadboard for your own prototyping interface circuitry.
Sign up as a "Professional Backer" and you will be enrolled in a course and receive an e-book that will show you how to design your own digital chip, starting from the very beginning, even if you don't have any experience with electronics or computers.