FPGA Spotlight

Optiver FPGA Engineer talks with us about the intersection of hardware and trading.
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  • Kevin - FPGA Engineer

    Where did you go to school and what was your major? I graduated from the University of Missouri Columbia with a degree in Computer Engineering. I excelled at math in high school so engineering seemed like a good fit.

    How long have you been at Optiver? I moved from St. Louis to Chicago the summer of 2015 to join Optiver. 

    What was your most influential project at school? A professor was looking for a research assistant for a project using FPGA’s in a data center to do pattern matching. Even though I had no prior FPGA experience I was offered the job. That opportunity my junior year of university shaped my whole career and landed me at Optiver. 

    How does hardware fit into fintech? FPGAs are a tool to accelerate the processing of an application, either by increasing the throughput or reducing the latency. We work directly with traders and software developers to identify ways in which this increased performance can directly impact the success of our trading systems. 

    What is the FPGA Team’s philosophy around solving problems? We try and look at the problem from a system level first, and then see where the FPGA would fit best. By always thinking about the whole system your FPGA design can stay simple and focused. 

    Looking back, what advice would you give yourself on that first day at Optiver? Start your designs small and incrementally increase complexity. Sometimes your first solution is the best, and other times you will learn from all the steps along the way.