By Rob Evans, Altium Ltd.
pldesignline.com (March 10, 2010)
An occupational requisite of working in what's arguably the fastest evolving industry on the planet is forecasting and correctly responding to where it's heading. Being obsessively preoccupied with that path is distracting, but being rationally aware is a core element of business success, or even survival. Just marking time is not an option.
From a design engineering point of view, assessing and reacting to industry change can be exciting, but is nonetheless disruptive. It often challenges the validity of the design processes we use, and perhaps worse, the accepted approach to electronic product development itself. But it is nevertheless viewed as electronics design problem, so we tend to look within electronics design itself for the answers.
The instinct is to predict design evolution by taking an extrapolated view of the electronic technology status quo, which to be fair, has worked reasonably well to date. Semiconductor devices become more capable in line with Moore's law, larger slabs of data can be moved around boards at faster rates, processors pack more firepower, embedded software systems increase in sophistication and so on. It's a comfortable view of electronics evolution that fits well with engineering sensibilities.
Adjusting for change within that context is relatively straightforward, and involves refining design systems and techniques to exploit the potential of the latest electronics developments. The result is incrementally improved design systems and techniques that create incrementally improved electronic products.
We readjust, we learn new techniques, but ultimately, we envisage and react to change at a technology level.
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