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The First Hardware Acceleration Network meetup
Date: September 18, 2020

Submitter: Steven van der Vlugt
Description: On Friday, September 18, 2020, we held our first HW Acceleration Network meetup with 28 participants!

The idea for a Dutch network for hardware acceleration(*) originates from a dinner at the Xilinx Developer Forum in November 2019 in The Hague, NL, where we observed that the Xilinx event topics had moved in about 5 years’ time from roughly a balance of 95% firmware and 5% software to about 10% firmware and 90% software. During the event we met with a group of colleagues of a former EU project where we also worked on this topic and concluded that many people in the Netherlands are working with this kind of technology, but it was hard to reach out to others.

After this initial idea, we reached out to our network and set-up a core team with Zaid Al-Ars (TUDelft), Roel Jordans (TU Eindhoven), André Kokkeler (U Twente) and Steven van der Vlugt (ASTRON). We were granted funding from the 4TU.NIRICT community funding program to organize our events. A first event to form a network or community in this area was scheduled for March 2020, but had to be postponed due to COVID-19. Given circumstances we had to start with an online event.

During the event we presented our view on Hardware Acceleration and invited others to share their work in this area. Special thanks to Roel Jordans (TU/e), John Romein (ASTRON), Mohamed Bamakhrama (Synopsys), Daniel Ziener and Nikolaos Alachiotis (U Twente), Lennart Noordsij (ASML) and Joost Hoozemans (TUDelft) for presenting their work!

Despite online not being the ideal form to organize this event we consider it a success! It was good to see familiar faces and connect with new people in the same industry and we already had nice interaction on several topics, also our view of Hardware Acceleration resonated well.

During the coming period we will define how to proceed with the network and in what form to organize a next meetup. In the meantime, we use a LinkedIn group to ask questions to each other, exchange thoughts on novel topics or meet new people working on the same challenges. Feel free to join the group if you are interested in this area or contact us for questions.

(*) We define hardware acceleration as: the optimization of software to specific hardware architectures utilizing the hardware specific characteristics to improve performance or optimize the system.