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Tech, tech practice to boost 2010 engineering success

Posted: 14 Jan 2010     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:engineering  technology practice  parallel programming  verification 

Rao: Parallel languages and early verification with Model-Based Design can help engineers steer their companies towards profitability in 2010.

After a difficult economic year in 2009, organisations all over the world are hopeful of a better year in 2010. Only businesses that are agile enough to respond to evolving customer requirements while ensuring profitability will stay competitive and emerge successful.

As a company that aims to accelerate the pace of engineering, we have the advantage of working with organisations across horizontal application domains such as technical computing, signal processing and control engineering, while also working with entities in vertical markets such as aerospace, automotive, finance and computational biology. Given our visibility into technology challenges faced by cross, horizontal and vertical industries, we have identified one distinct technology and one technology practice that we see as the cornerstones of engineering success in 2010.

Need for parallel languages
Today's engineers need to work with increasingly large data sets in solving their computational modelling and simulation problems. Depending on the amount of data involved, these problems can take days, weeks or months to complete on a single computer. Numerous operating systems and hardware that support high performance computing including multicore desktops, grids, and clouds, are available to engineers. However, scaling up programs beyond a desktop computer has traditionally been a complex task that requires users to make extensive changes to application code. This takes engineers away from their core task of trying to find solutions to complex, real-life problems.

Scalability and portability are key requirements for a parallel computing environment; many engineers would prefer their parallel applications to seamlessly utilise — if and when needed—whatever resources are available.

Parallel programming environments that allow engineers to solve technical problems on and beyond desktop computers are gaining in importance. The primary goal of any new parallel language is to bridge performance and programmability; that is, to provide a simple programming model that will work well on multicores and clusters. Programming languages, such as MATLAB and its Parallel Computing Toolbox, provide engineers with the ability to easily parallelise programs, and to then scale beyond the desktop with only simple program modifications.

Engineers can then use hardware resources like multicore workstations, clusters, grids and clouds, to accelerate their computational work, solve very large problems, and gain significant research and competitive advantages. With parallel computing, engineers can stay focused on solving engineering problems, rather than having to address computer science issues.

Early verification with Model-Based Design
Organisations that have used Model-Based Design and realise its benefits, as well as those that are yet to do so, are now trying to address their verification challenges early on in the design cycle. Design teams within these organisations are using early verification to improve their requirements and specification activities, enhance the value of simulation for design and verification, and generate reusable system models for verifying the implemented components and systems.

Early verification with Model-Based Design is an area of growing importance across a variety of industries:

Engineers in heavily regulated industries such as automotive and aerospace, are constantly looking for ways to review designs and code, and gain confidence that software across dozens of embedded processors meets stringent design requirements

Increasingly complex control and mechatronic systems are forcing industrial automation engineers to find ways to fix errors before reaching the hardware prototype stage

Electronics OEMs and suppliers are constantly looking to reduce the re-spin that will compromise their time-to-market in a rapidly evolving marketplace

Being able to match designs and implementations to requirements, and lowering investments in time and money involved in manual testing and rework, are common challenges faced by these engineers. These arise from fundamental gaps in the workflow across stages of design development, and the use of disparate tools by component design teams. Despite sound component designs and rigorous testing, requirements and integration-related issues crop-up during production.

By adopting early verification with Model-Based Design, organisations can achieve the dual benefits of reducing investments in testing and verification towards the end of the development cycle, and gain the first-mover advantage by developing and launching innovative products faster into the market. This yields efficiency improvements for a range of enterprises with differing expertise and capabilities.

Engineers can use system models to continuously check for adherence to design requirements throughout the development process, and find design flaws early in the development cycle. Also, these tools can be used to efficiently formulate tests to ensure effective testing programs for the final implemented systems and components. The end result is a design workflow that can help engineers move towards developing world-class products that work the very first time.

As we prepare to enter a new year, parallel languages and early verification with Model-Based Design can help engineers steer their companies towards profitability in 2010.

- Kishore Rao
Managing Director, MathWorks India Pvt. Ltd

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