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TRIUMF and Altera partner on advanced training

06 June 2016

As physics experiments become ever more complex, scientists and engineers must keep up to speed with fast-evolving data acquisition technologies to ensure their experiments can handle the data loads. This spring, TRIUMF partnered with Altera Corp., an Intel subsidiary, to offer lab researchers and engineers, as well as invited colleagues from MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates, Ikomed Technologies, and UBC, three industry-leading training workshops designed to keep these data acquisition experts at the forefront in this field. 

Dr. Yair Linn, a  TRIUMF Electronics Development Group engineer and Adjunct Professor in UBC's Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, said  "The Electronics Development Group at TRIUMF and Altera reached an agreement for this training, according to which TRIUMF received a substantial discount on the training price in exchange for allowing TRIUMF facilities to be used and external participants to attend. Thus the Electronics Development Group could offer free training for engineers and physicists from other groups at TRIUMF, as well as discounted training for UBC students and faculty and local industry. From an outreach perspective, this strengthens our relationships with our local colleagues.”

The workshop focused on specific Altera tools for Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs), including DSP Builder and OpenCL. FPGAs are specialized microchips used extensively for high-speed data acquisition systems, such as those employed by the GRIFFIN spectrometer at TRIUMF and the DEAP detector at SNOlab.  The Altera workshop offered participants industry-leading training for this rapidly-advancing technology.

Yair was enthusiastic about the workshop: “[it] went very well, many TRIUMF groups that were not previously acquainted with Altera's advanced tools and FPGAs were very impressed. Some joined Altera's University Program, allowing TRIUMF to receive free licenses for cutting-edge tools that otherwise would cost tens of thousands of dollars commercially.”

The Electronics Development Group would like to acknowledge the support of the TRIUMF leadership team and Altera/Intelfor this workshop, as well as the support of Altera's local representatives and distributors Epic Inc. and Arrow Inc. .

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Figure 1.   Altera workshop participants working intently on their training packages during the FPGA workshop at TRIUMF.