A clear trend prevails in today's automotive industry: Electronics in the vehicle are gaining more and more significance. The number of microcontrollers in the automobile is consistently increasing. For example, luxury vehicles may have up to 100 on-board microprocessors in the near future. Automotive electronics has become a technology driven by competitive decisions.
The control of today's complex electronic systems can only be created by costly software functions. The consequences of this trend are of particular concern to the design engineers who are responsible for the system concept and integration. With the increasing number of electronic control units, the amount and complexity of funtions engineers must design, code, test, and implement increases as well. In order to remain competitive in this field – which is determined by time, costs, quality and flexibility – the developer depends on permanent optimization of all development activities.
A graphic function model that includes all system components frequently serves as the basis for gaining a common understanding of functions. Customized model-based software development methods with notations – such as block diagrams and finite state machines – are therefore increasingly replacing software specifications in plain text form.
Model-based function development offers further advantages. Specifications are unambiguous and free of contradictions. Additionally, specifications can be executed on the computer (by simulation) and experienced in the vehicle (by rapid prototyping). Due to these advantages, "Digital Specification" has quickly gained wide acceptance, and is methodically and consistently supported by ETAS' development tools.
Rapid prototyping also provides an important contribution to the efficiency increase in the software development process. It allows fast and uncomplicated design testing without having to build cost-intensive prototypes in the laboratory or vehicle. New function designs can be downloaded to a prototyping experimental hardware within a short time, and tests in the vehicle can be performed immediately. Early on in the development process, prototyping provides a high-quality impression of control unit functionality, thus enabling time and cost savings by avoiding expensive design iterations. Efficient prototyping is only possible through the use of flexible and productive hardware. This allows the developer to fully concentrate on the actual design. Furthermore, high processor performance is also a crucial criterion for complex "hardware-in-the-loop" simulation models used for testing control units. ASCET-RP, INTECRIO and ETAS hardware products are perfectly suited for these requirements.