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Raising the pillars of digital transformation for next-generation electronic systems design

Digital transformation is driven by the urgent need for electronic systems companies to overcome the Big Three of modern-day design challenges – product, organizational and process complexity – under the strain of shrinking design and production schedules and an unprecedented pace of innovation. The myriad challenges of complexity have very real consequences. Recent research by LifeCycle Insights shows that 58 percent of all new design projects incur unexpected additional costs and time delays. Only one in four projects actually goes out on time and on budget. To meet schedules, engineering teams often add a cushion of three to four respins to their cost and time estimates, thus perpetuating process inefficiencies. The classic prototyping-dependent approach actually contributes to missed schedules, increased development expenses and degraded product quality. Companies can no longer afford to build physical prototypes, test them, fix bugs and repeat through multiple iterations. What’s needed is a digital transformation that addresses inefficiencies and optimizes both electronic and multi-domain systems design and verification. To bring about this digital transformation, companies need to put five essential capabilities – or pillars – in place that help them overcome product, organizational and process complexity.

Addressing complexities in electronic systems design

Product complexity has grown significantly with the advent of advanced node ICs, faster DDR memory and SerDes buses. For example, running signal and power integrity analysis on multi-board designs can be very tricky, and multi-board systems come with difficult connectivity requirements between boards and between boards and mechanical enclosures. Even simpler designs that use the latest generation FPGAs and DDR memory require signal and power integrity analysis. All of this comes at a time of extreme schedule pressure, where the expectation is to get it right the first time, so engineering teams have to get the analysis done quickly and done right. The drive to reduce electronic form factors also drives product complexity, with tighter tolerances between PCBs and enclosures and advanced manufacturing technologies like rigid/flex, HDI and embedded components. Organizational complexity becomes more entangled as large teams specialize and distributed groups are leveraged to develop a single product. These different design teams often operate independently or in isolation and have poorly defined touch points. Using design tools that cannot share data seamlessly between disciplines often leads to problems found very late in the design cycle or after physical prototypes are built. Product and organizational complexities also complicate the core processes throughout the entire development flow – from product concept, to architectural decomposition, through all the multiple parallel domains for electronics, mechanical and software and finally to manufacturing. Not only do designs need to meet all their functional requirements, the software that interfaces with the hardware must work properly. Additionally, all products must meet strict guidelines for their intended operating environments as well as for manufacturability, and in a number of industries products have to meet a set of complicated regulatory standards. To overcome these complexities, a next-generation design platform must support integration, shared data and improved intelligence. Integration across design processes and disciplines optimizes resources to reduce development time and cost. Sharing context-specific design data reduces design cycles and costs due to fewer data fidelity-driven respins. Improved intelligence provides actionable information and feedback loops to inform cost and resource management decision-making through metrics-driven prescriptive analytics. Five core transformational capabilities are required to deliver these keys to product differentiation, profitability and faster time-to-market:

  1. Digitally integrated and optimized multi-domain design
  2. Model-based systems engineering (MBSE)
  3. Digital-prototype driven verification
  4. Capacity, performance, productivity and efficiency
  5. Supplier strength and credibility The following sections provide an overview of the five pillars companies need to digitally transform electronic systems design.

Read the full whitepaper which describes these five pillars and shares how Siemens EDA, a part of Siemens Digital Industries Software, can help organizations put them in place, so that companies can turn the promises of the coming digital transformation era into real opportunities today.