Degree: Electronic Engineering
University: Southampton University
I first heard about ARM at my University’s careers fair. The representatives there explained the sort of work ARM do and my enthusiasm for digital design encouraged me to apply. Furthermore, I wanted to sample “the working life” and to also gain some experience with industry standard tools and techniques, and with ARM being a leading processor supplier, I felt there was no better place. I can honestly say my aims have been met and more.
I first worked with ARM for 10 weeks in the summer of 2008, between my second and third year of University. I joined the Processor Implementation department and their main focus is to take soft IP (RTL) and transfer it to a design that can be manufactured. I was assigned a project to look at how the floorplanning step in the implementation process could be sped up using Tcl scripts. I was required to write an interim report and a final report as well as give a presentation to the department in my final week giving me experience of communicating my findings both on paper and verbally. Everything I did during the project was new to me (even Unix!) and the knowledge I had gained at the end of my experience was invaluable – I was even capable of helping somebody in the department use one of the tools by the end of my placement.
I am now 3 weeks into another summer placement, this time for 12 weeks with Research and Development, such that I can experience a different side to ARM. This year I am looking at different implementations of an instruction decoder for a new processor to determine which implementation is the best in terms of Power, Performance & Area. Everything I learnt last year can be directly applied to my new project which is advantageous, but I’m still learning so much more. Unlike last year, I only need to give a presentation at the end of my internship in order to present my findings.
When I first started, the summer students were given an ARM fundamentals course which was really useful as it quickly gives you an overview of the ARM architecture. I have also been assigned a technical manager, a line manager and a buddy. My technical manager is the one that I talk to the most as he oversees and supports me through my project and is always free to answer any questions or queries that I may have. My line manager is also available to answer questions but mainly deals with my holiday requests and training. Finally my buddy is available to help me with anything not related to work.
Although these are the three main people assigned to helping me, all of the staff are extremely friendly and have never hesitated to help me with my work or offer suggestions.
When I worked in Processor Implementation last year, we went for a pub meal every Friday and it was a perfect way for everybody to catch up with each other. Outside of working hours ARM offers a number of activities for its employees, including football, cricket and a gaming night. ARM also hosts a BBQ sometime during the summer which all employees are invited to – I had a lot of fun last year and can’t wait for this year’s!
ARM also understands that placement students are generally alone and don’t know anybody. They therefore encourage communication between other students with the use of a summer student mailing list and a dedicated summer student group on their social networking site making it easy to organise events. Most of us normally get together every day for lunch but have also been out after work to places such as the cinema, hopefully soon, we can get everybody together for a night out!