Posted by frank schirrmeister on June 29, 2011
What do the Inchron Real Time Congress this week and my last weekend home project have in common? They both are all about complexity, real-time, apps and platforms those apps run on. In automotive and consumer domains, apps are running on platforms in systems of systems. The question to me at this point is how many platforms – like AUTOSAR, GENIVI, Android, IOS, Windows Mobile etc. – as well as versions of them can an apps interested user really handle?
Let’s start with the Inchron Real Time Congress, which I was attending on Tuesday and Wednesday. After BMW talked about the networked car with several networked sub domains. Continental then talked about how to enable Human Machine Interfaces (HMI) with one hardware and hypervisors underneath (see the graphic on the left, Source: Continental). Other presenters from Continental, Audi and Volkswagen confirmed the trend to the networked car and the discussion during the day centered around the real time aspects of car-related applications.
While my next “apps driven” car purchase is likely still some time away, my home remodel reminds me in a nightmarish way of what is ahead of us in cars and other apps driven domains. After a one-year re-modeling project and expansion, one geeky upside is that I now have CAT6 installed throughout our home. Everything is installed in-wall. I am happy (and somewhat proud) to report that the engineer in me is still present as without a problem I was able to add Ethernet plugs and such during the last weekend. If this whole system-level gig does not work out, I definitely am still capable of planning and installing home entertainment systems …
Not unlike the networked car, our house now has several networked sub-systems, in our case the home office, bed room, living room and family room. Connected via CAT6, the closet in the bed room hosts a gigabit switch to connect the video server, an Apple iMac hosted in the home office, to the rest of the house. An Apple TV (Version 1) and a Samsung Blue-Ray Player connect via a receiver to a Samsung wide-screen TV in the living room. An Apple TV (Version 2) and an iPOD dock connect via a receiver to a Sharp wide-screen TV in the bed-room. A Comcast multi-room DVR connects from the bed room to the family and living rooms.
The second Apple TV was purchased pretty much specifically to enable more “Family Guy” episodes via NetFlix (OK, Caillou and Blues Clues are found here too). As always, the Apple interface is slick and intuitive. It took me 15 minutes from unpacking the box to streaming video via NetFlix. The nightmare started when I activated the internet service on my Blue-Ray player. The Samsung “Smart Hub” updated via internet. The Netflix interface looked much different on the Samsung “Smart Hub” platform and I had to tinker a while until I had signed up for a Samsung account, registered the DVD player and got to streaming video after about 90 minutes. It took me another hour to figure out how to get to the latest revision of the Samsung platform via internet, after which all apps needed to be upgraded as well. Now the interface for Netflix roughly resembles the Apple interface, but is less slick, slower and looks different enough to notice.
How do I explain these different interfaces to my wife and daughter? I have no idea. Why are they different, even on the same platform across revisions? Ideally they should not be.
To make things more complex …. our Samsung TV also has an internet “Smart Hub” interface with apps. Comcast just sent me a advertisement on their apps. I am hesitating to unpack the Sony play station for the family room – yet another platform and yet another apps interface.
At the system-level I am musing in this Blog mostly about aspects at the hardware software interface. The experience with my home network, combined with what I hear about the future of cars, drives me to some conclusions applicable to my world at work of tools enabling software development and system-level design:
Bottom line, apps have become a central part of system-level design and are impacting every step of the design process. Getting them fully adopted and which platforms will prevail, remains an interesting question. As always I am looking forward to your thoughts and comments!
Patrick Sheridan is responsible for Synopsys' system-level solution for virtual prototyping. In addition to his responsibilities at Synopsys, from 2005 through 2011 he served as the Executive Director of the Open SystemC Initiative (now part of the Accellera Systems Initiative). Mr. Sheridan has 30 years of experience in the marketing and business development of high technology hardware and software products for Silicon Valley companies.
Malte Doerper is responsible for driving the software oriented virtual prototyping business at Synopsys. Today he is based in Mountain View, California. Malte also spent over 7 years in Tokyo, Japan, where he led the customer facing program management practice for the Synopsys system-level products. Malte has over 12 years’ experiences in all aspects of system-level design ranging from research, engineering, product management and business development. Malte joined Synopsys through the CoWare acquisition, before CoWare he worked as researcher at the Institute for Integrated Signal Processing Systems at the Aachen University of Technology, Germany.
Tom De Schutter
Tom De Schutter is responsible for driving the physical prototyping business at Synopsys. He joined Synopsys through the acquisition of CoWare where he was the product marketing manager for transaction-level models. Tom has over 10 years of experience in system-level design through different marketing and engineering roles. Before joining the marketing team he led the transaction-level modeling team at CoWare.