Grad school vs. hw experience for 3D hw designer in industry

Discussion in 'Graphics and Semiconductor Industry' started by JeffK, Apr 3, 2006.

  1. JeffK

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    My goal is to eventually architect hardware for a complex core such as a block inside a 3D core. I just graduated from undergrad and have the option of going to grad school (where my thesis will involve of project for a hardware accelerator of molecular dynamics equations) or to work as an ASIC designer in video/display blocks. If anyone knows based on experience, what would be more critical, a more advanced degree or the ASIC design experience? Please let me know your opinion! This is a tough choice and I dont have all the info to make the choice. Thanks!
     
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  2. Shadowmage

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    more advanced degree, any time.
     
  3. arjan de lumens

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    Go for the degree.

    From the sounds of it, the project you outline for your thesis is much closer to what you will encounter as a 3d HW designer than the video/display ASIC project.

    The important parts of a modern GPU these days are the computational units and the data paths to route data in to and out of them; making these parts efficient pose problems and challenges substantially similar to what you are likely to run into in your thesis project.

    A video/display block in an ASIC that doesn't otherwise do graphics is not very interesting or relevant from a 3d HW design perspective; in a modern GPU, the display functionality itself is usually a very small part of the design, and frequently something that you just either recycle from old designs or outright buy an IP core from external parties for. I do not know whether e.g. NV/ATI/S3 etc have dedicated people for their display controllers, but it would not surprise me one bit if they didn't.

    (Unless of course you by "video" mean "h.264", in which case it gets much more interesting again!)
     
  4. booomups

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    "My goal is to eventually architect hardware for a complex core such as a block inside a 3D core"

    I would love to have such a well definded goal, in life or work.
    So now, my goal is to have a goal in life POINT



    well congratulation to you, give us some good designs in the future, or better tomorrow ;-)
     
  5. 3dcgi

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    I don't understand the thinking myself, but in many cases a master's degree will open more doors than will a couple extra years of experience. I only have a bachelor's degree, but as engineering jobs become even more competitive in the future a master's degree is a good thing to have.

    Although why not do a thesis related to graphics if that is your ultimate goal?
     
  6. JeffK

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    Thanks for the advice! I would do a graphics-related masters except their isnt any graphics hardware related research going on in our ECE department. I want to work on a project that has infrastructure in place and many people working on it. I dont think I could do anything significant related to graphics on my own starting from scratch.
     
  7. Sxotty

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    Then go to a different school, there are many more than one :)
     
  8. stevem

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    I see increasing numbers of post-grad qualified individuals with either MBA or Master's. If the opportunity is there, consider a PhD. The committment is greater, but at this stage of your career 3yrs isn't a problem. The potential rewards are also commensurate. Pick a good school with staff and projects aligned with your area of interest (obviously).
     
  9. sireric

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    I tend to favor PhD and Master's degree above plain bachelors. Make sure you have excellent (>3.5) grades and very pertinent classes (including graphics classes). During graduate classes, I would focus on VLSI type classes, as well as computer architecture. A good school helps a lot, as well.
     
  10. sireric

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    PS: Anybody good out there looking at this, we have openings :) (Looking for ASIC design, Gfx experience)
    PPS: Ok, I agree that's self-serving advertising.
     
  11. JeffK

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    Senior level only or entry as well? I check the careers section regularly and have seen senior level ASIC design positions but nothing posted for entry-level. This is why I was curious about ASIC design work exeprience vs. graduate degree in the first place. If you ARE considering for entry level, where can I apply? :)
     
  12. Simon F

    Simon F Tea maker
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    I would say that the most important thing is that, when a candidate goes to an interview, they should actually remember what they were taught. :roll:
     
    #12 Simon F, Apr 6, 2006
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 6, 2006
  13. Geo

    Geo Mostly Harmless
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    That sounds like an interviewer remembering a recent experience. . . :lol:
     
  14. sireric

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    Entry level still requires a bachelor's degree (GPA>3.5) and pertinent graphics experience. You can send resumes to jamlin@ati.com
     
  15. Ghost of D3D

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    Can you specify what would be regarded as "pertinent"? Thanks.
     
  16. sireric

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    Good question. I've become less picky over time :) -- But I usually insist on OpenGL or D3D programming experience, and reasonably knowledge of the overall pipeline models of the various versions. As well, any HW work on graphics is a big bonus (either as a school project, self project or work experience).
     
  17. asicnewbie

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    If by architect, you mean define and drive the high-level macro-architecture of a system, be aware that many top-level corporations (example, Intel) have that snobbish policy: "No PhD? No architecture!" There are many competent persons in today's industry who worked their way up through the ranks to positions of senior responsibility.

    If it were me, I'd get a more advanced degree NOW. When you enter the workforce, you will gain the necessary ASIC experience to position yourself for a future job in your field of choice (graphics.) Truthfully, I think it would be difficult to get an entry-level/openning position in graphics-design. At least, one that isn't just 'engineering menial work' (i.e. running benchmark, er I mean, Verilog/VHDL simulation testcases for someone more important than you.)
     
    #17 asicnewbie, May 27, 2006
    Last edited by a moderator: May 27, 2006
  18. RussSchultz

    RussSchultz Professional Malcontent
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    My experience in the software world is:

    go for the experience, assuming your job prospects are not menial.
    You'll learn a ton more, at a quicker pace in a job where you're challenged. You'll also get real world experience rather than focus on whatever your graduate advisor has as his pet project. You'll also develop the network you need to advance your career: good people want to work with good people, and they'll recommend good people whom they've worked with over rolling the dice on unknowns.

    In areas where bonafide research goes on, advanced degrees are much more useful.

    Of course, I never went for my advanced degree, so I'm a bit umm...biased. ;)
     
  19. Freak'n Big Panda

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    hehe I'm entering Electrical Engineering @ Waterloo this September, Interestingly enough I have a very similar goal to yours. I've wanted to work in the computer/tech industry since about grade 7, decided that I wanted to design ASICs for a living in grade 10. I think I'll be able to meet the requirements sireric mentioned when the time comes :) working on ASICs @ ATI has always been my dream job.
     
  20. JDwoods[TeamATi]

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    While I can't tell you how business works in the gaming/3D harware world, I can tell you my advice from an Industrial Engineers perspective. Having the advanced degree does give you an advantage, you should do that no matter what, but there are many pros to working a bit first.

    1. It is a resume builder. For many students applying for a job at the Masters level, it is difficult to get hired due to little or no work experience. You need to prove to an employer that you can handle a 40 hour a week job successfully.

    2. Money. Continuing your education is great, but doing it with some extra cash in your pocket is better. If you take the job for a few years and save religiously, you can spend your years back at school living the high life (for a college student that is).

    3. Perspective. I went to school, spent 6 months working for a company, and then finished. I can not tell you the number of lessons I learned while I worked. When I went back to school to finish my BS I was excited and enthusiastic. I really appreciated my final year at school and understood how to apply what I was learning. Also, I don't know about you, but sometimes you just need a break for your brain.

    Well I hope I helped and didn't just confuse you. I thought it might be nice to have someone offer a different option too. Best of luck.
     
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