[Beowulf] Pricing and Trading Networks: Down is Up, Left is Right

Lux, Jim (337C) james.p.lux at jpl.nasa.gov
Fri Feb 17 10:05:15 PST 2012

On 2/17/12 7:42 AM, "Vincent Diepeveen" <diep at xs4all.nl> wrote:

>On Feb 17, 2012, at 3:12 PM, Lux, Jim (337C) wrote:
>> If so, I'd go for that.. The population of FPGA developers is probably
>> 1/100 the number of conventional Von Neuman machine developers (in
>> whatever language).
>> Interestingly, such a scarcity does not translate to 100x higher pay.
>I'm not a  magnificent FPGA developer - i'd say first speedup the
>software - there is so many traders
>real slow there. But they don't even are interested IN THAT.
>> Most of the surveys show that in terms of median compensation FPGA
>> designers get maybe 30-40% more than software developers.
>The rate for development is $1 an hour in india. If you deal with
>major companies in India it's $2.50 an hour
>including everything.

I think you're a bit low there.  People I know who are contracting
off-shore development say that the net cost (to the US firm) is about 1/4
and 1/3 what the equivalent person would cost in the US.  (and the price
is rising)

You can hire very low level people quite inexpensively on a bare contract,
but you spend more managing them, and compensating for the incredible
defect density.

And I doubt that good FPGA folks are as thick on the ground in low cost
places as they are in the US or Europe.

>>> Getting a FPGA a tad higher clocked from Xilinx, say the first sample
>>> at 22 nm, is probably not cheap either.
>> The biggest, baddest Virtex 7 (XC7V2000TL2FLG1925E) is a mere
>> $132k, qty 1
>> (drops to $127k in qty 1000)
>> (16 week lead time)
>> 2 million logic cells 70 Mb onchip block ram, 3600 dsp slices, 28Gb/s
>> transceivers, etc.etc.etc.
>how high that would clock?
It's a bit tricky when talking clock rates in FPGAs.. Most designs are
only regionally synchronous, so you need to take into account propagation
delays across the chip if you want max performance.

You feed a low speed clock (few hundred MHz) into the chip and it gets
multiplied up in onchip DPLLs/DCMs.
The MMCM takes 1066 Mhz max input.

There's also different clocks for "entirely on chip" and "going off chip",
particularly for things like the GigE or PCI-X interfaces (which have
their own clocks)  Likewise these things have built in interfaces to RAM
(so you can get like 1900 Mb/s to DDR ram, running the core at 2V).

It's more like doing logic designs.. Propagation delays from D to O
through combinatorial logic look like they're in the 0.09 ns range.  CLB
flipflops have a setup time of 0.04ns and hold time of 0.13 ns, so that
kind of looks like you could toggle at around 2 Ghz

There's plenty of documentation out there, but it's not as simple as "I'm
running the CPU at 3 GHz"

>note you also need to integrate the fastest 10 gigabit nic - right
>now that's solarflare.

Do you? Why not use some other interconnect.
>> To put it in a box with power supply and interfaces probably would
>> set you
>> back a good chunk of a million dollars.
>if you'd do it in a simple manner sure - but if you're already on
>that path of speed and your main income is based upon speed you
>want something faster than what's online there of course.
>You phone xilinx and intel and demand they print fpga's before
>printing cpu's in a new proces technology, and clock 'em as high as

I seriously doubt that even a huge customer is going to change Xilinx's
plans.  They basically push the technology to what they can do constrained
by manufacturability.

Then you have all the thermal issues to worry about.  These big parts can
dissipate more heat than you can get out through the package/pins, or even
spread across the die.

>guess it's around a 4 million a year minimum.
>That's not a problem for the hedgefunds to pay actually.

I suspect that money isn't the scarce resource, people are.  There aren't
many people in the world who can effectively do this kind of thing. (For
the kind of thing you're talking about, it's probably in the 100s, maybe
1000s, total, worldwide)

>For me it's incredible that there is so little jobs actually for
>trading in imperative languages and basically 99.9% of all jobs are
>Java there.

Why is this amazing?  The vast majority of money spent on software is
spent on run of the mill, mundane chores like payroll accounting,
inventory control, processing consumer transactions, etc.

So there's a huge population of people to draw from.

If you're looking for top people, and you need some number of them, you're
better off taking the 3 or 4 sigma from the mean people from a huge
population, than taking the 1 sigma people from a small population.

>I just simply would never do business with jpmorgan chase. they seem
>to hire 0 persons who are busy imperative or even in C++.

So what?  That's just a personal preference on your part.  How do you know
they aren't hiring those people through some other channel?

You don't see a lot of ads out there for FORTRAN programmers, but here at
JPL, about 25% of the software work that's being done is in FORTRAN.  And
of the people doing software at JPL, more than half do NOT have degrees in
CS or even EE, and I'd venture that they were not hired as "software
developers":  more likely they were hired for their domain specific

>Basically means that the entire market of genius guys who know how to
>beat you in game tree search, which is about all artificial
>intelligence experts,
>they're shut out from majority of companies to get a job there.

Definitely not.  If you're in that tippy top 0.1%, you're not getting jobs
by throwing your resume over the transom.  You're getting a job because
you know someone or someone came to know of you through other means.

I didn't get my job at JPL by submitting a resume, and I think that's true
of the vast majority of people here. It was also true of my last job,
doing special effects work.  And in fact, now that I think back, I think I
have had only one job which was a resume in response to an ad.

>The way to get a job is to be young and have a degree in economics.

Depends on what job you want.

A good fraction of the technical degree grads at MIT are being hired by
the finance industry. This concerns people like us at JPL, because we
can't offer competitive pay and benefits, and on a personal note, I think
it's a shame that they're probably not going to be using their skills in
the field in which they were actually trained.

But the way to get a good job has always been, and will always be, to know

There have been *numerous* well controlled studies that looked at hiring
behavior, and regardless of what the recruiting people say, in reality
managers make their decisions on the same few factors, and "recommendation
of coworker or industry colleague" is right up there in the top few.


More information about the Beowulf mailing list