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14 The PCB Design Magazine • September 2015 This method has been dubbed a system design approach. Although this entails more steps than traditional approaches, it allows for streamlining the design, as well as for testing and verifying each operation separately and in concert. Overall, it gives designers the ability to be and to stay in control when designing com- plex systems with a multitude of requirements that appear contradictory. Moreover, the system design approach al- lows for: • Checking functionality on system level, which improves reliability • Simulating product test cases, which augments quality, and • Optimizing redundancy, which reduces system costs In a nutshell, the promise of the system de- sign approach is to allow for hitting the "sweet spot" in terms of functionality, quality and reli- ability, in the shortest possible design time and with the lowest possible resource investments. In an industry that has a very long time to mar- ket (on average around 1,000 days), steadily in- creasing quality demands and an ever intensify- ing pressure to lower costs, all these promises become most attractive and compelling. Getting Started You obviously must begin working with the new tools taking the first step first, which means identifying which suite of tools offered by the market best fits the company needs. Once the needs have been defined, determine where to purchase these tools. If you are a newcomer to this situation, research the market for the most appropriate suite of tools and make a decision based on the cost-benefit analysis results. Among others, factor in the cost of testing the offers ver - sus the risk of not making the best choice. For this aspect of the decision-making process, it is important to rely on the information the suppli- er provides, which, as matter of experience, can be deficient or incomplete. It is obvious that this first step becomes a challenge by any measure. But if you have a long-standing relationship with an EDA tool provider, how do you decide? What if your designers are accustomed to that provider's approach, culture and peculiarities? You probably will correlate the above-men- tioned aspects with the cost of changing the provider. There is a high probability you will arrive at the conclusion that working together with your current provider yields higher ben- efits than the alternative. At this junction, the question of whether the systems design approach is already reality or not becomes most important. Well, current- ly it is not wishful thinking, but it is not quite available either. The market is in the midst of implementing this much-needed evolutionary design methodology. The market offers tool suites that aim at de- signing, testing and simulating an electronics system by taking a system approach. In complete configurations, most suites aim to fully support: • System schematics design • Functional simulation • PCB design • Signal integrity simulation across the system (including board interconnection), • Power integrity simulation across the system • Mechanical simulation for assembling the PCBs into the housing, and • Collision simulation. For these tools to work as specified, you have to consider the host platform characteristics, primarily configuration, bandwidth, operating system and cost. For the time being, a powerful Windows PC with an acceptable display appears to be good enough. You can consider adding a tablet to increase the usability. feature " at this junction, the question of whether the systems design approach is already reality or not becomes most important. " AuToMoTIvE SySTEMS DESIGN: A SuPPoRT ENGINEER'S PERSPECTIvE

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