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Thread: FPGA Portfolio

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    Default FPGA Portfolio

    Hello, I am currently a senior level electrical engineer working on PLC based projects, and occasional PCB and embedded design.
    For the last 4 years I have had a keen interest in programming FPGAs with VHDL and have set myself a goal of producing a protfolio of projects with a view to changing career to an FPGA design role (prepared to start again in a junior role).
    So my question is if you were a protential employer what could I show you that would prove I am capable of taking on this role?
    So far I have produced a mandelbrot set generator on the DE10 standard board, using both the processor with Linux and fpga fabric.
    I am also making sure I have obtained good knowledge of DSP techniques.
    So, what else would be essential to a prospective employer?
    Advice greatly appreciated.

  2. #2
    Tricky is online now Moderator **Forum Master**
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    Default Re: FPGA Portfolio

    From my POV, what you do in the FPGA is mostly irrelevent, as most people can handle designing some sort of pipeline. My main interest would be:
    1. Have you any experience setting up and using DDR interfaces?
    2. Have you any experience setting up and using High Speed Serieal Interfaces (PCIe, Ethernet, SRIO etc).
    3. Proof of architecting and designing a system, with teamworking an essential part of this.
    4. Do you have good experience with a simulator? are you capable of building a self checking test bench that meets a test goal? (Plusses for this will be things like VHDL 2008, OSVVM, Vunit, CocoTB (from a VHDL POV) or SystemVerilog, UVM. But dont mention them if you dont understand them).

    I dont think DSP is as important or useful anymore. Tools are pretty efficient, CPUs are faster and resources are often more plentiful than the used to be. FPGAs are more often now about moving packets through a system at 10Gb/s+ bitrates - so for this you need 1/2 above.

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    Default Re: FPGA Portfolio

    Quote Originally Posted by Tricky View Post
    From my POV, what you do in the FPGA is mostly irrelevent, as most people can handle designing some sort of pipeline. My main interest would be:
    1. Have you any experience setting up and using DDR interfaces?
    2. Have you any experience setting up and using High Speed Serieal Interfaces (PCIe, Ethernet, SRIO etc).
    3. Proof of architecting and designing a system, with teamworking an essential part of this.
    4. Do you have good experience with a simulator? are you capable of building a self checking test bench that meets a test goal? (Plusses for this will be things like VHDL 2008, OSVVM, Vunit, CocoTB (from a VHDL POV) or SystemVerilog, UVM. But dont mention them if you dont understand them).

    I dont think DSP is as important or useful anymore. Tools are pretty efficient, CPUs are faster and resources are often more plentiful than the used to be. FPGAs are more often now about moving packets through a system at 10Gb/s+ bitrates - so for this you need 1/2 above.
    Company work focus differs from industry to another. Tricky apologies but your comments are quite biased.
    Automated design (wizard, ips , dspbuilder, matlab, opencores, or other forms) are there for dsp as well as network interfacing. A company may not buy them or these ips may have limitations and in all cases the designer work load is there to do the architecture, interfacing and testing of large number of unknown modules. Tricky what do you mean FPGA is just for pipelining? and Why one should know about DDR specifically (ips are available to talk to sdram). ips are there for PCIe,Ethernetů and you just instantiate them. I can simulate all my designs in modelsim and recently I had those guys who were doing UVM ...etc were in the dark...I never understood what they could do to my design testing.

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    Tricky is online now Moderator **Forum Master**
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    Default Re: FPGA Portfolio

    I was really talking about cores and interfacing, rather than building the IPs yourself. Most data transfer now is via PCIe, Ethernet etc so companies are more interested in experience with these rather than DSP, as I think a lot of more tradition Firmware DSP work is moving to CPUs (image processing for example) as CPUs get faster. I have worked in industry that was traditionally all custom hardware solutions 10 years ago (custom build PCBs with FPGA and Arm CPU) where now it is mostly software solutions with some FPGA accelerator cards (rack mounted/cloud based PCs with PCIe accellerator cards).

    I was really point out that 10-20 years ago, where "dsp techniques" would be writing efficient multipliers, dividers etc, these are all available as customisable IP cores and logic is plentiful, so saving a handful of registers is not as important as it once was - where now the importance is in the system design and knowing how to plumb IP cores together. Employers rather you understand the system and write re-useable, readable code than obfuscated "clever" code.

    re: simulation - most engineers still write testbenches, but having a working knowledge of some open source or industry standard approaches should always be a plus when going for a job (hence all of the things I mention).

    OP: In addition, reading up on writing timing specs and how to apply them is also very important in the business today.

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    Default Re: FPGA Portfolio

    Quote Originally Posted by John_nohj View Post
    Hello, I am currently a senior level electrical engineer working on PLC based projects, and occasional PCB and embedded design.
    For the last 4 years I have had a keen interest in programming FPGAs with VHDL and have set myself a goal of producing a protfolio of projects with a view to changing career to an FPGA design role (prepared to start again in a junior role).
    So my question is if you were a protential employer what could I show you that would prove I am capable of taking on this role?
    So far I have produced a mandelbrot set generator on the DE10 standard board, using both the processor with Linux and fpga fabric.
    I am also making sure I have obtained good knowledge of DSP techniques.
    So, what else would be essential to a prospective employer?
    Advice greatly appreciated.
    As a VUnit developer I'm a bit biased but as the amount of functionality for FPGAs grows there is a trend to manage large amounts of code just like software people do (they have more experience in that area). Continuous testing/integration/delivery was a noted trend at FPGA Kongress this year and it was also discussed during a DAC keynote. Looking at job ads you will also see that companies are requesting skills in VUnit, Git, Jenkins and similar tools. My point is that it's not just about what you implement but also how you implement that.

    A general advice is to look at these ads to find out what companies are looking for.

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