Multi-discipline systems engineering tools for optimisation in automotive and aerospace

December 07, 2015 // By Graham Prophet
Mentor Graphics has announced tools delivering integrated electrical/electronic/software systems engineering capability for the transportation market. The Capital Systems tools allow implementations to be optimised for key parameters such as cost and weight.

Unlike other approaches, engineers within the various disciplines do not need to understand one another’s detailed syntax. This makes the new tools easy to deploy, leaving staff free to concentrate on design innovation.

Transportation platforms such as automobiles and aircraft are largely defined by their electrical/electronic systems, including embedded software. But implementation decisions, such as choosing the best processing resource for a software component, are hard to optimize because cross-discipline impacts are difficult to assess. For example, re-locating a software component may affect not only processor characteristics but also databus communications and wiring implementations. Given the scale of electrical/electronic content in modern vehicles, poor decisions can have significant impacts.

The problem can be solved by focusing on vehicle functions that will later be implemented as software, hardware, data communications, or electrical interconnect, and then assessing the impact of alternative implementations. The Capital Systems tools support functional connectivity capture, platform-level integration of those functions, and instant measurement of consequential impacts. Together they provide a complete environment to guide engineers to optimum decisions.

Luciano Lavagno, Professor of Electronics at Politechnico di Torino (Polytechnic University of Turin), who has a special research interest in hardware/software co-design, commented, "These tools are unique because they capture all high-level functionality aspects at a single abstraction level. This information is projected onto a representation of the host platform, which could be a car, an aircraft, or indeed a distributed system-of-systems. Real-time metrics immediately show engineers the effect of their decisions, allowing rapid optimization. No complex internal data mappings are needed, so the tools are ideal for fast adoption by staff responsible for system implementation decisions.”

In practice new designs almost always build on data derived from previous projects. Moreover, the data describing implementation architectures must flow directly to detailed design processes within the various disciplines. For this reason the Capital Systems products provide extensive data connectivity. Martin O’Brien, general manager of Mentor’s Integrated Electrical Systems Division, said,