July 10, 2007

New Approach Needed  Comments 

Filed under: Engineering Tools — admin @ 2:46 pm

(This is the sixth of six posts that is exploring the question – “Why have sophisticated commercial development tools seemingly passed over the networking equipment development engineer??) 

Currently the networking industry tolerates the method of custom tool development that has gotten the industry this far even though it is expensive.  However with the continued growth of complexity, the costs will continue to escalate both for the custom development and for the lack of productivity for the development engineers.   

A dramatically improved approach to the problem is required.  A ten percent better tool may only provide a few months in terms of keeping up with the coming issues.  It makes me think of the Einstein quote, “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used to create them?.  Several innovative solutions are being developed for QA testing such as those from VeriWave for wireless LAN products.  The same kind of innovation needs to be applied to the tools for the development engineer.    

The new solution should have substantially the following characteristics below.  Some of these characteristics have been made obvious from the discussion in this paper.  Other characteristics are implied because of the need to preserve the primary benefits of the tool.   

Characteristics for a development tool solution:

§          It should be available at first silicon, or first prototype. 

All of the dependencies that cause delay need to be eliminated.   

§          It should be flexible and configurable. 

This allows the exploration of new versions of protocols, or potential new changes to protocols without an entirely new development. 

§          It should integrate easily with other tools that are used. 

The gains that were made in timeliness should not be given back because of the need to spend additional time integrating the tool into the development environment. 

§          It should support the easy generation of test cases. 

If a tool requires significant effort and time to develop test cases, it can limit when it can start being used.  Cumbersome test case generation can be the equivalent to a product delay. 

§          It should allow the efforts between companies to be combined. 

A solution that works well for just one company will not be an industry solution.  The solution should be able to use the size of the networking industry to its advantage. 

This set of requirements may set the bar too high for some approaches.  However, it reinforces the need to come at the problem with a different approach to meet these requirements.  

Rick Denker

Packet Plus™, Inc. 

1 Comment »

  1. [...] a previous post I called for improved tools for networking engineers (http://www.chipdesignmag.com/denker/?p=11) and moving to interactive tools would be a big [...]

    Pingback by Rick’s Wireless Networking » Blog Archive » Basic Debug Tools (PRINTF level) and Beyond — January 9, 2008 @ 4:39 pm

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