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Design007-May2020

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MAY 2020 I DESIGN007 MAGAZINE 27 Look for the Big Picture, Continually Asking, "What Problem Are We Trying to Solve Here?" As engineers, we love details, but context is critical. If you can't chart the path from the top-level goal to the particular detail you're considering at the moment, you're in trouble. I try to make sure that each level of the prob- lem hierarchy is clearly stated to ensure that whatever is consuming our collective creative energy is a problem that's really worth solving. Practice Craftsmanship Seriously I once found an unattributed quote that said, "Craftsmanship is the quality that comes from creating with passion, care, and attention to detail." Much has been said about craftsman- ship as a lost art, and I try to do what I can to bring it back by trying to understand the tools and processes I use as best I can, taking the end user's view and letting that drive the type of results I produce, and experimenting so that I can try to improve my processes. Just because a process works doesn't mean it can't be better. Learning, creating, and taking pride in my work is why I got into engineering in the first place. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate I've become a big fan of what I'll call "busi- ness psychology" books. I've learned (the hard way) that human communication is a disci- pline in its own right—one that requires study and practice, and is something that I'll never get exactly right. Simply spewing technical jar- gon is easy; simplifying complex concepts and communicating them in a way that brings oth- ers into the conversation is hard. One of my co-workers used to say, "You have to under- stand an issue really well to be able to summa- rize it in a few understandable sentences," and I couldn't agree more. There's a certain satis- faction in taking a complex issue and break- ing it down to its simplest and most under- standable form, and that's one of the things that makes me an engineer. Conclusion These are just a few things that we should all keep in mind, but I'd probably rank communi- cation as the most important point of all. If we communicate with our customers and down- stream partners, we'll be less likely to find our- selves asking, "What did you expect from me, anyway?" DESIGN007 Todd Westerhoff is the product mar- keting manager for high-speed design tools at Mentor, a Siemens Business. Aldec Inc., a pioneer in mixed HDL language simula- tion and hardware-assisted verification for FPGA and ASIC designs, has launched a new FPGA accelerator board for high performance computing (HPC), high fre- quency trading (HFT) applications and high speed FPGA prototyping. The HES-XCKU11P-DDR4 is a 1U form factor board featuring a Xilinx Kintex UltraScale+ FPGA, a PCIe interface and two QSFP-DD connectors (providing a total of up to 400 Gbit/s bandwidth), and which hits the ideal sweet spot between speed, logic cells, low power draw and price. The new product, which joins Aldec's popular range of FPGA accelerators and prototyping boards, also features an FMC HPC connector for interfacing with Al- dec's FMC daughter cards; the industry's widest range of FPGA mezzanine cards and the newest addition of which is the FMC-NVMe high-bandwidth, low-latency memory extension card. In addition, the HES-XCKU11P-DDR4's FMC HPC connector is compliant with the ANSI/VITA 57.1 standard and provides easy extension to similarly compliant peripherals. "When developing this new FPGA accelerator board, our goal was to achieve an ideal compromise between perfor- mance, expandability and price, and thus help users rise to some of today's most advanced computing and/or net- working challenges using FPGA acceleration," said Zibi Zalewski, General Manager of Aldec's Hardware Division. (Source: Business Wire) Aldec's HES FPGA Accelerator Board Targets HPC, HFT and Prototyping

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