Research Assistant/Associate in Systems Software for Secure GPUs/Accelerators

University of Cambridge

United Kingdom

Research Assistant: £26,715 -£30,942 or Research Associate: £32,816 -£40,322 or Senior Research Associate: £41,526-£52,559

Fixed-term: The funds for this post are available until 31 March 2024.

Applications are invited for a Research Associate (PostDoc) or Research Assistant to join the CHERI hardware/software design team, focusing on systems software for securing accelerators (GPU/AI/crypto/other).

The CAPcelerate project forms part of the £187m ISCF Digital Security By Design (https://DSbD.tech/) research programme. DSbD aims to build next-generation secure processors using 'CHERI capabilities' (cheri-cpu.org), which provide fine-grained memory protection and compartmentalisation. Capabilities are a foundational improvement to the software execution model which enable wide-ranging robust security protections up and down the existing hardware/software stack. As part of the programme Arm is building Morello, a performant 7nm mobile and server-class system-on-chip incorporating a prototype implementation of CHERI capabilities in the ARMv8A architecture.

CAPcelerate seeks to extend the use of capability protections beyond the CPU, focusing on accelerator hardware and its software stacks. Accelerators are becoming increasingly core performance-critical parts of computing systems. CAPcelerate seeks to investigate whether capability protections permit both performance and security, and how they interwork with software running on a capability-enabled CPU.

We are looking for a Research Associate (with PhD) or Research Assistant (without/pre-PhD) to work on the systems software for accelerators. They will work as part of a group building prototype capability-enabled accelerator hardware on FPGA (currently based on RISC-V), and in the large CHERI research team based at the University of Cambridge, as well as in the wider international DSbD and CHERI community spanning numerous institutions in academia and industry. The CHERI team has strong track record in publishing at major venues (ISCA, MICRO, IEEE Security and Privacy, ASPLOS, NDSS, HPCA) including the Thunderclap IOMMU vulnerability (thunderclap.io), which stimulated mitigations against DMA attacks deployed in the USB 4 and Thunderbolt 4 specifications.

The ideal candidate would demonstrate one or more of the following attributes:

  • A strong background in Systems (hardware or software) below the application layer (compiler, device driver, operating system, firmware, hardware, etc)
  • Compiler experience would be advantageous
  • Familiarity with some parts of accelerator systems software (device driver, memory allocator, work allocation, etc)
  • Awareness of security threats and challenges at the systems level
  • Familiarity with working in teams and with robust engineering practices (version control, continuous integration, automated testing)
  • Strong interpersonal and organisational skills, and the ability to work in an international team at multiple sites
  • Active engagement with downstream industrial and open-source user communities, as well as research collaborators and sponsors

To be appointed to a Research Associate or Senior Research Associate applicants should hold a PhD or have equivalent experience; those who are close to submitting a PhD will initially be appointed as a Research Assistant and amended upon graduation. Candidates should provide evidence of relevant work, where possible, and must demonstrate a desire to perform internationally-leading research and to publish in the top conferences.

The funds covering this post are available until 31 March 2024, although can offer flexibility over start dates. We initially expect the successful candidate to work remotely, but plan for physical working in the Department as circumstances permit.

Further details may be obtained from Dr Timothy Jones (https://www.cl.cam.ac.uk/~tmj32/).

Click the 'Apply' button below to register an account with our recruitment system (if you have not already) and apply online.

Please provide a Curriculum Vitae (including publication list and details of two references) as a single combined PDF and a brief statement of the contribution you would make to the project, drawing attention to relevant experience with systems research and development. If you upload any additional documents which haven't been requested, we will not be able to consider these as part of your application.

Please quote reference NR26418 on your application and in any correspondence about this vacancy.

The University actively supports equality, diversity and inclusion and encourages applications from all sections of society.

The University has a responsibility to ensure that all employees are eligible to live and work in the UK.

Apply online


In your application, please refer to Professorpositions.com

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