Director of Firmware Development at DVI

Director of firmware development was my position at an ambitious start-up seeking to redefine the storage industry.  The underlying storage technology seemed capable of leapfrogging magnetic drive densities by at least a decade (including HAMR drives).   I was hired to be responsible for SATA drive firmware development, but ended up with heaps more 😉

On the business side, my responsibilities included creating technology demonstrators (for investors), wear testers, predictive models, patents, contract negotiation, planning, schedules, and liaison to design, manufacturing, Q/A, and test.   The people at DVI were competent, skilled individuals with many years of disk drive development & manufacturing experience, and were a joy to work with (for the most part).

On the development side, some of my tasks were to create developer specifications & environments, hire & integrate engineers and developers, compartmentalize specialized (FPGA) firmware and general (C) code development, specify/purchase IP, develop prototypes, create (HIL) test frameworks to quickly test & validate changes, specify and purchase test equipment & software, and code/mill/solder/design, as necessary (to name some of the tasks).

Doing all this required more than a few (late) nights at the office (note plaid covered cot):

The company had a great start, and we accomplished, with a relatively small amount of capital, what had not been done before.   Unfortunately,  raising the second round of funding was delayed (for a number of reasons), and the company stalled.

I’d like to give a note of thanks to Hiren Patel at Intelliprop for all his help with the SATA IP; he has a great group of folks there.

Also noted is Eli Billauer, freelance Electrical Engineer.   His tech blog is great, and he was very helpful with embedding microblaze soft-core processors running linux(!);  He is personable, very knowledgeable, and I highly recommend him.  His site contains a treasure-trove of FPGA information & experience.   If you’re looking for IP that allows you to easily DMA over PCIe on windows or Linux, then check out Xillybus.

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2 Responses to Director of Firmware Development at DVI

  1. Steve Gushwa says:

    Were you able to get any mainline Linux kernel device driver to connect with the IntelliProp SATA IP core from Zynq? I see you were running a microblaze on the PL side but did you ever see success from the PS side?

    • Bill says:

      Hi Steve,

      Great questions, thanks. First, the Zynq hadn’t come on the scene yet, so I was working the the Spartan-6 (FPGA Embedded Kit), and no, we weren’t able to get far enough down the project to work with any Linux drivers. We were still evaluating analyzers (LeCroy Sierra M6-2), and the drivemaster software from Ulink Technologies. In my discussions with Intelliprop, we were looking at acquiring both the master and slave side IP, which would allow us to hook them up back-to-back and then into a SATA drive. This would allow us to instrument/tweak/simulate/debug/test drive commands/data streams, caching, etc, as our drives were being “brought up”. This should also have worked with any standard Linux drivers as-well.

      I hope that helped,


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