You don’t need to be an expert to source the correct hardware for your embedded system. You just need to work on the embedded system architecture. Nowadays equipment is designed by an interdisciplinary team which needs to communicate regardless of their background. Some team members might have technical experience, but some might not.
How can you make sure that you meet your financial and operation objectives while sourcing the correct hardware for an embedded system?
This is easy: appropriately define the architecture. This will provide a structed plan which allows you to map the relationships between hardware and software. This is how you obtain 100% compatibility and best performance among the different elements.
What is the Architecture of an Embedded System?
It is a structured plan to identify major components and applications requirements focusing on behavioral and inter-relationship information. Therefore, you don’t need to have a degree on electromechanics engineering to communicate and source exactly what you need.
An architecture is an abstraction of the embedded device: a generalization of the system. As a result, the architecture does not usually include detailed implementation information such as software source code or hardware circuit design. Instead, hardware and software components are represented as elements focusing on the interactions between them.
Figure 1. Typical Embedded System Architecture.
In other words, the architecture is basically a snapshot of the system’s hardware and software while at the design phases which considers a particular environment and a given set of requirements.
This abstract representation of the embedded system helps you overcome the most common challenges while on the design phases.
Designing and Planning
When designing an embedded system, your company probably assembles a team of planners, buyers, engineers, marketers, and product managers who are in charge of developing the new system. Therefore, they consider customer’ needs, application requirements, budget allocation and corporate objectives. Then, all this will translate into a structured plan that captures component general information about function and inter-relationships.
In technological projects, budget is a priority. The go to market time frames are usually marked in years and the initial capital investments are high. You just can’t afford making a mistake when sourcing components. An architecture will allow you to understand the true capabilities and correctly size hardware.
Some applications have unique requirements in terms of reliability and safety. Some require components certified to withstand harsh environments and high temperatures. Other applications will require mission critical standards with 24/7 operation. An architecture will systematically include these notes. In addition, applications have a list of requirements that must be met in terms of capabilities and usage. An architecture will allow the interdisciplinary team to always have those as top of mind.
As you can see, we can use the embedded systems architecture to resolve challenges early in a technological project without defining or knowing any of the internal implementation details. This is so powerful because the architecture allows to communicate a design informally and quickly to a group of people with or without technical backgrounds. In fact, this structured plan can be used as a foundation while planning the project or while designing a device.