This paper shows the design and the evaluation of on-line arithmetic modules for the most common operators used in DSP applications, using FPGAs as the target technology. The designs are highly optimized for the target technology and the common range of precision in DSP. The results are based on experimental data collected using CAD tools. All designs are synthesized for the same type of devices (Xilinx XC4000) for comparison, avoiding rough estimates of the system performance, and generating a more reliable and detailed comparison of on-line signal processing solutions with other state of the art approaches, such as distributed arithmetic. We show that on-line designs have a hard stand for basic DSP applications that use only addition and multiplication. However, we also show that on-line designs are able to overtake other approaches as the applications become more sophisticated, e.g. when data dependencies exist, or when non constant multiplicands restrict the use of other approaches.