Firmware Engineer (Data Acquisition)

27 Jul 2017
End of advertisement period
24 Aug 2017
Contract Type
Fixed Term
Full Time


Firmware Engineer specializing in Data Acquisition in the Experimental Physics Department (EP), LHCb Computing Group (LBC).

The LHCb experiment will enter a new exciting phase of data-taking in 2021. Reading out every single bunch-crossing of the LHC will result in an unprecedented data-rate of 40 Terabit/s. This readout system employs a single type of custom-built FPGA powered readout-module. About 500 such modules are integrated with latest-generation server computers connected to the highest bandwidth-data acquisition system built to this day. Operating at the limit of currently available technology, every bit counts and firmware and software must be designed accordingly. At the same time data is very valuable and the overall system is complex, thus reliability and maintainability of the data acquisition software and firmware are crucial for the success of LHCb.

You will join:

  • The Physics (EP) Department that carries out basic research in the field of experimental and theoretical particle physics. It aims at providing a stimulating scientific atmosphere and remains an important reference centre for the European physics community. It contributes to the education and training of young scientists.

  • The LHCb Computing Group (LBC) which is supporting the Large Hadron Collider Beauty experiment (LHCb), an experiment set up to explore what happened after the Big Bang that allowed matter to survive and build the Universe we inhabit today.

  • Within the LBC group you will join the Online team, which is the main team responsible for all aspects of data movement and handling, controls and monitoring, and IT infrastructure of the LHCb experiment. We are also the main player in the global LHCb detector operations.


As a Firmware Engineer in the LBC group, you will play an important role in the development, implementation, commissioning and operation of the LHCb Data Acquisition system.

You will:

  • Be responsible for the common part of the readout system implemented in high-end FPGAs and very high-performance servers connected by a high-speed local area network; this includes an important part of the FPGA firmware (written in VHDL) and the associated Linux kernel drivers.

  • Take a leading role in the integration of sub-detector firmware and in the integration of the readout-modules in the overall data acquisition system for which the LBC group is also the main responsible.

  • Achieve the commissioning of the upgrade of the LHCb data acquisition.

  • Assist users and other developers in the integration of their own data acquisition into LHCb.


Master's degree or PhD, or equivalent relevant experience, in the fields of electronics or computing, or equivalent.

Experience and competencies

The experience required for this post is:

  • Demonstrated experience in high-speed digital design and programming of FPGAs.

  • Experience with data acquisition systems.

  • Experience with working in a distributed development team.

The technical competencies required for this post are:

  • Development and configuration of online software for data acquisition.
  • Use of scientific and engineering software packages: VHDL, C, C++.
  • Digital circuit design, modelling and simulation.
  • Digital circuit testing and measurement techniques.
  • Programming/Software development: Linux systems and kernel (driver) programming.

The behavioural competencies required for this post are:

  • Achieving results: having a structured and organised approach towards work; being able to set priorities and plan tasks with results in mind; taking appropriate corrective actions and adapting work / project plans if necessary.
  • Managing self: taking initiative beyond regular tasks and making things happen; remaining objective, focussed and productive in a stressful environment; focusing on solutions rather than problems.
  • Solving problems: producing workable and timely solutions that meet requirements; testing solutions for long-term suitability, cross-checking with all concerned before implementation.
  • Working in teams: building and maintaining constructive and effective work relationships; understanding when teamwork is required to achieve the best results; including others accordingly and sharing information.

The language competencies required are:

  • Spoken and written English; ability to understand and speak French in professional contexts.
  • Ability to draw-up technical specifications and/or scientific reports and to make oral presentations in English and French.

Eligibility and closing date

Diversity has been an integral part of CERN's mission since its foundation and is an established value of the Organization. Employing a diverse workforce is central to our success.

We welcome applications from all Member States and Associate Member States.

This vacancy will be filled as soon as possible, and applications should normally reach us no later than 24.08.2017.

By applying here, you allow CERN to consider your application for any position it considers relevant with respect to your profile. Please ensure you update your profile regularly with any relevant information and that you inform the recruitment service if you wish your file to be removed from the database.

Note on Employment Conditions

We offer a limited-duration contract for a period of 5 years. Limited-duration contracts shall terminate by default on their date of expiry. Subject to certain conditions, holders of limited-duration contracts may apply for an indefinite position.

These functions require:

  • Work during nights, Sundays and public holidays.
  • Work in radiation areas.
  • Interventions in underground installations.
  • Stand-by duty, when required by the needs of the Organization.

Read more about employment conditions