88) An Invitation to “The Cell” at IBM

Hello new reader!

Welcome to my autobiography.

I am glad you are here!

If you are a careful reader you have noticed the name of my two dogs – Oliver and Stanley – are the same as my own. It is because Oliver M. Stanley is my pen-name. There are many good reasons writers use pseudo-names. I use one because a member of my family is more comfortable this way.

In my last post you read about Stanley, my 14-year old Bichon Frise – a small, white, fluffy dog. In this post I will share another experience with you as a mask design contractor at IBM, in Rochester, Minnesota. 

I have invested a good bit of blood and sweat into mask design contracting as a career, in particular with the good folks in the Systems Technology Group (STG) in Rochester.

Size Mattered

In February of 2004, my work had finished at Sun Microsystems in California, and I was not able to pursue an offer of employment with the company, so once again I was in search of a mask design opportunity.  I can’t tell you why, but working but working for the very big semiconductor design enterprises was very important to me. And although I didn’t set out to get them to recruit and hire me, when those opportunities became available, I knew and was ready to pounce on them.

Like Intel on a previous contract assignment, IBM was such an enterprise. So when I heard they were looking to bring someone in to support development of  The Cell Project, also known as Cell Broadband Engine Architecture (CBEA), I was tremendously excited!  Essentially, this technology represented the next generation of gaming counsel hardware, using multi-core architecture  – high-powered computing to make games like XBOX run better and faster.

Yet, I had no specialized knowledge of multi-core technology architecture or IBM semiconductor design methodology. All I had been doing is quietly building my resume with a wide array of successful assignments with well-known companies like Analog Devices, HP and Intel. And now IBM, which in some ways was The Big Daddy of contracts.

Birds of a Feather

Okay, the list of prominent companies on my resume had caught the attention of an IBM staffing agency – and some folks at IBM. But my tactical advantage in securing the contract was growing up in Minnesota and jelling with the resident mask designers in the lab – or “graphics lab” as they term it. Most of them were from small towns in southern Minnesota. Since I was raised in Minneapolis, I was considered the city slicker. We talked about Minnesota Twins baseball, Minnesota Vikings football, Minnesota Gophers basketball, snowmobiling, skiing and the benefits of hard-drinking and cigar smoking while ice fishing.

I enjoyed the distinction of being the first mask design contractor IBM Rochester had ever hired.

Do you remember I grew up in Minnesota?

Quietly Powerful

IBMSo after nearly 4 weeks of background investigation and reference verification I began my first contract with IBM’s STG in the first week of February of 2004. I got off the plane at Minneapolis in sub-zero temperatures, rented a car and drove to Rochester, some 55 minutes to the south. At nearly one-half of the size of the Pentagon, and employing over 4,000 workers, the campus was the largest I had seen in 19 years of work in mask design.

Image – http://postbulletin.typepad.com/kiger/2008/10/follo-to-ibm-cuts.htm

My big surprise came when on the first day, I walked into the lab and discovered every mask designer was using an unrecognizable software that was written entirely at IBM – and expertly rendering circuit drawings relatively quickly!

Does working for a big company make you feel more powerful? (It sure did for me!)

Next: Inside The Beast

2 thoughts on “88) An Invitation to “The Cell” at IBM

  1. When I left my first post about your dog, I did notice that the each dog had one of your names. I had to double check to make sure that I had your name right. Pretty clever I must say. I fully understand about being compelled to work in a certain industry without being able to fully atriculate the reason why.

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