Life at Optiver  · 

FPGA Engineer at Optiver

A career in hardware design

Andy, FPGA Engineer at Optiver Amsterdam, says that the pursuit of performance and well-engineered solutions keep him fully engaged every day. Learn more about his story and why he chose to pursue a career in hardware design at Optiver. #PeopleAtOptiver

Where did you study and what was your major?
I went to the University of Sheffield in the UK where I studied Electronic Engineering. I always liked math and science, but really wanted to apply this practically in an engineering field. One dream I had was working for a Formula 1 team, I think that’s why pushing the limits of technology in search of the best performance appeals to me so much.

How long have you been at Optiver?
Almost 6 years now. I moved from London to Amsterdam in the spring of 2014, some of my former colleagues had already joined and they recommended Optiver. It was only my second visit to Amsterdam, but a couple of months later I was living here!

How does hardware fit into trading?
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 was your most influential project that you’ve worked on?
At Optiver you get the opportunity to pitch projects that you think will make a difference to the business. I proposed an idea for writing our own TCP stack in the FPGA that would be optimised for our applications and give us a competitive edge. It was really rewarding to come up with the architecture, implement it and then see it improve our trading!

Why do you enjoy your job and why would you encourage someone to work in FPGA/hardware at Optiver?
The pursuit of performance never stops. After 6 years you would think every optimisation has been done, but there is always more you can improve on. A few years ago I would have questioned whether it was even possible to get to the level we are now, but with a focused team, so much can be achieved.
Every project is rewarding, but we immediately look to the next improvement. These days we really need creative thinking around the whole system, as well as very well engineered solutions to make it happen, both of which keep us fully engaged.

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?
Question the necessity of every line of code you write. Often things can be made more specific and simpler than you first think, so only add in complexity when you really have to.

Life at OptiverMeet the team

Related Articles

  • Nicolas_Infrastructure_as_code
    Experienced, Life at Optiver

    Navigating Infrastructure as Code (IaC) in a non-cloud trading environment

    In the high-performance landscape of algorithmic trading, technological infrastructure isn't just important—it's critical. While Infrastructure as Code (IaC) is a well-established practice in cloud-based solutions, its application in non-cloud environments presents unique challenges, especially in latency-sensitive environments like ours at Optiver.

    Learn more
  • Series
    Life at Optiver

    From ideation to production: US tech intern summer projects

    Foreword by US CTO, Alex Itkin One of the most exciting parts of summer at Optiver is hosting the ever growing intern cohort. This summer in the US alone we had 35 interns working across our software, hardware and trading infrastructure teams. The goal of the internship is to give students an opportunity to spend […]

    Learn more
  • Series
    Life at Optiver

    Tech intern projects at Optiver Amsterdam

    This summer, Optiver’s Amsterdam office hosted a group of tech interns eager to tackle the challenges of market making. Beyond just theory, they worked hands-on with our core trading technologies, directly engaging with some of the most interesting technical challenges in the financial industry.  In this blog post, four of our Software Engineering interns delve […]

    Learn more
  • Series
    Life at Optiver

    The Optiver summer: A transformative experience

    This summer, we proudly welcomed our largest intern season to date across our Amsterdam and US offices. They came from top schools and dove headfirst into the fast-paced world of market making, where they underwent comprehensive training, completed impactful projects, learned from industry mentors and formed lasting bonds with their peers. This wasn’t your average […]

    Learn more
  • Experienced, Life at Optiver

    Navigating performance challenges as a C# Software Engineer at Optiver

    When we think of market making, we often associate it with low-latency C++ applications. However, many other technologies and programming languages play a crucial role in establishing Optiver as a leading global trading firm, among them being C#. At Optiver, our success is largely attributed to our people. While trading is heavily automated, it is […]

    Learn more
  • Life at Optiver

    Optiver and P33

    As a tech-driven market maker, Optiver seeks partnerships to help push technology forward and support the next generation of talent. Recently it partnered with P33, a non-profit organization dedicated to driving innovation and economic growth in the city of Chicago. The partnership aims to support and grow the local tech ecosystem in Chicago while creating […]

    Learn more