We protect your critical systems.

8th of December, 2020

Taking Xiphera to the skies

Valtteri Marttila, one of Xiphera's Developers, tells with his own words how he ended up at Xiphera, and what's the best thing about his work.

My name is Valtteri, and I work as a developer here at Xiphera. I just received my M.Sc. in Technology, more precisely in the field of electronics and electrical engineering from Aalto University. I worked during my studies part time in public infrastructure as lighting designer. Working in that field was meaningful and rewarding, however I wanted to design systems that have multiple orders of magnitude smaller scale.

I started my Xiphy story in March, 2020 when I applied for Master’s thesis position. I actively searched for a Master’s thesis position to find topics that would be truly meaningful and interesting for me. I wanted to make my thesis about something inspiring and not just get over with it. I had no luck finding such Master’s thesis topic until I found Xiphera from our guilds advertisement. I had no concrete Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) and digital design experience, but was familiar with the technology based on my studies and hobby with electronics. I like to be involved with hardware and especially designing it. My Master’s thesis topic was extremely interesting as I was testing the robustness of Xiphera’s own True Random Number Generator (TRNG). There were a lot of different aspects that had to and could be covered. I made the decisions what my thesis included, inside the project scope of course. The thesis included technical development part, literature review, and more abstract test methodology design. Technical development is the most intriguing part of my job and thesis, in addition to other activities such as research, documentation, software development, and programming.

Mixing academic with practical after graduation

Now that I have finished my thesis, I continue as a Developer. I got to pick my own title and I was humble, let’s see when I get to pick a new title. The title Developer at Xiphera can be interpreted in many ways as the FPGA development can involve many levels from abstract to concrete products. I am still finishing the project that my thesis covered and in addition to that, I have been assigned to multiple new projects. Today, I am taking the Xiphera products to the skies, to the cloud. Cloud computing has recently included the capability to use FPGAs as computation units. I am making the hardware description for the cloud FPGA accelerator cards that can communicate with the host PC via shell. The cloud development involves plenty of simulation and testing before the application can be executed in the cloud. The first cloud product launched is the Xiphera TRNG in the Amazon web services (AWS F1) FPGA platform. In the development process I have also developed software: a Dockerised C++ application including simple UI, internal initialisation of the IP core, writing random data to a file and a IP core DRM protection from Accelize. This is truly full stack development as the back-end is actual hardware!

As cryptography is highly academic discipline, Xiphera has academic approach to work, which is greatly balanced with practicality. Being close to Aalto University and offices located in Otaniemi warms the mind, even if you think that after your studies you would want to be as far away from Otaniemi and the academic world as possible. Working in a small growth company definitely has its perks. I like to think of myself as an entrepreneur even though I am not one of Xiphera’s Co-founders. It is rewarding to stay updated on all the activities going on at the firm and to make myself as useful as possible. It feels great to be part of the growth story and to see what tomorrow will bring to Xiphera.