Turning On The Virtual Prototyping Hose

The impact of droughts and floods can be minimized with proper planning, and some perspective.

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Growing up in Belgium, it never occurred to me that rain—or for that matter water—can be in short supply. Having lived in California for more than eight years, now I know better. While I still enjoy the fantastic weather in the Bay Area, I do realize the importance of having enough rain and water. Water is one of those resources that we easily take for granted. It is, in fact, the most important resource, but we are just used to the fact that it flows out of a tap, hose or shower with the turn of a valve. According to recent studies, the last three years of drought were the most severe that California experienced in at least 1,200 years.

But November and December have turned out to be quite wet. While it is great to fill up the basins again, too much rain in a short time brings its own set up problems, such as mudslides and falling trees. On the other hand, it is clear that Californians aren’t really used to rain and call just about anything “the storm of the century,” as depicted nicely in following picture:

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This cycle of extreme drought, followed by heavy rain, reminds me of the problem software developers are facing. Without a strategy to incrementally get access to targets for software developers, the software development cycle for a particular project looks first like a drought: nothing is available to start software bring-up and then all of a sudden hardware is becoming available all at once and the pressure is on to deal with the software requirements of all IP blocks and subsystems at the same time.

A more incremental software target development plan can mitigate this problem and alleviate the pressure on the software team, resulting in a better flow between hardware and software and a better product overall, which is available in the market faster.

It is hard to achieve this flow using purely hardware-based targets for software development. Inherently, virtual prototypes can be available much earlier because there is no dependence on hardware. Plus, the nature of having a model-based approach allows you to stage the incremental target availability any way you want. That means the software team can drive the stages based on the logical order of software bring-up, debug and test.

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So whenever you find yourself in need of an earlier software target to mitigate the trend of software development droughts and floods for your project, you might want to turn on the virtual prototyping hose to ease the software development flow.