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In 1996 the company SRC Computers was established in Colorado Springs, Colorado by Seymour Cray, also known as the founder of the super computing company Cray, Inc. At that time SRC was one of the first companies focusing on reconfigurable computing, integrating reconfigurable processing elements into classical CPU computers. The intention was to speed up specific calculations orders of magnitudes compared to what the CPU could perform and at the same time still offer the ease of programming that CPUs give.

In 2004, Cray Inc. released their XD1 system with reconfigurable computing, and in 2005 SGI unveiled their new technology Reconfigurable Application-Specific Computing (RASC) based on the same idea. A number of other hardware manufacturers have seen the potential of application-specific hardware, and for instance NVidia started to market their product Tesla as General Purpose computing on GPUs (GPGPU).

The need to standardize the usage of reconfigurable computing systems launched the first Reconfigurable Systems Summer Institute in 2005 held by the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Campaign. A first draft of OpenXL was presented at RSSI 2006.