We were supposed to make something using Terasic DE0-Nano boards equipped with Altera Cyclone IV E FPGA as a part of our course project in Digital Electronics Lab(EP 230). We went around to explore what are some things which an FPGA can do better than a CPU. Starting with High Frequency Trading and Bitcoin computation, we evolved our idea into N body simulation which we could complete for 3 body simulation.
The general idea is easy to grasp. Consider that you are simply calculating the vector rj - ri. This requires 3 subtractions which a simple CPU will serially do, but on an FPGA we can program three subtractors to work in parallel. The improvement in speed is challenged by a requirement of larger hardware(Flops per unit area), but hardware is cheap and time is not, thus FPGAs seek good applications in high performance computing till date.