A View from the Top: A Virtual Prototyping Blog

 

“Gehen Sie nicht über Los” – Development projects can be like playing Monopoly

Watching today’s electronics projects reminds me of playing Monopoly when growing up. The term “Gehen Sie nicht über Los” has become somewhat proverbial in German language for “game over” situations. It is printed on the card in Monopoly which sends you directly to jail, does not let you pass the starting field and does not grant you the per round income. Missing a deadline in a project can be like that, only the result is not jail but a dead project, a dead company or a pivotal point in a project manager’s career. And that’s where system-level design comes in to the rescue ….

imageIn day to day situations when discussing with customers the value of system-level design, I am trying to use their language and visualizations they are used to. This week Mazda announced the adoption virtual prototyping for Electronic Control Unit (ECU) verification. This makes me think of the specifics of the automotive world and how nice some of their visualizations can explain the value of system-level design.

Common visualization in automotive is the V-diagram as shown on the left. From Vehicle requirements the specification process proceeds through system design sub-system design, ECU specification to the actual ECU development. Once the ECU is done, the development process is on its upswing of integration, testing the ECUs, integrating sub-systems to verify them within the system and finally validating the vehicle.

image

This makes me think of Monopoly because finding a defect late in the development cycle and potentially not being able to fix it is like going directly to jail, it leads you back into the downward phase of this process. And, like in Monopoly, you certainly won’t collect any additional bonus here.

However, if one applies virtualization – virtual prototypes for example, then that means essentially moving the whole integration phase to the left. As a result that means more tests on virtual prototypes earlier, augmenting the use of hardware prototypes later in the project. As John Day writes in his this story on the Mazda adoption, together with time savings, users will find less bugs during the traditional hardware software integration phase. They can also do more directed testing, i.e. produce corner cases which are hard to re-produce or even dangerous in real life tests.

And of course they can collect their money during the next round, just like in Monopoly when having the “get-out-of-jail-free” card.

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