A View from the Top: A Virtual Prototyping Blog


Doom and Gloom on a Sunny Day in Detroit … and then there was the SAE Congress!

Title for SAE 2009 Blog Entry

Well, I am in Detroit. First of all, given all the car manufacturers, pedestrians are about 5th class citizens I would guess. I should have guessed from the smirk on the hotel concierge’s face when I asked for walking directions to the convention center, that I really should have taken the shuttle. Well, getting to the convention center was relatively easy. Just go to the Detroit River, illegally pass the police parking lot and you are almost there. Not being killed on the way back by the traffic coming from Canada under the River is a more artful undertaking. Canada? Yeah, my adrenalin levels were up last night when the taxi driver threatened to go into the tunnel leading to Canada, me realizing that I did not have my passport on me. Oh well, I successfully avoided a difficult situation right there.

Today, waking up at 2:30am PDT for my 8:30am EDT presentation at the SAE Congress wasn’t that much fun either. The big news on the radio of GM closing 15 plants for 9 weeks during the summer was not exactly the type of news one wants to hear when attending a congress of automotive engineers …

My presentation in the session on System Level Architecture Design Tools and Methods at the SAE Congress had OK attendance of about 20 engineers. I talked about virtual platforms as a solution for the two basic problems of bug-hunting and software development starting late.

Modeling Abstraction Levels for Automotive
Modeling Abstraction Levels for Automotive

I also went into the different accuracy levels of modeling styles SystemC offers to enable virtual platforms. Finally, I went through the requirements of the different participants in the automotive design chain. The presentation was well received I think and we had interesting discussions afterwards about the best target users for virtual platforms and the challenges to provide the models.

The rest of my morning session and the afternoon session had a bunch of interesting presentations on AUTOSAR data models, what can go wrong in CAN’s timing behavior and several presentations focusing on the early architecture decisions during the development phase. Once again, in automotive I was left somewhat puzzled about the usage of the term system. While I was focusing on Systems on Chip (SoC) and Engine Control Units (ECUs), the term “system” was also used for the complete car including the complete harness or even the mechanical elements.

Automotive is definitely embracing virtual platforms and architecture analysis of different types, but the question of “What’s in a System” remains.

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