Building a digital instrument cluster? Read this first.

Digital instrument clusters may be cool, but if your development team takes on the challenge of building one, expect a development path dotted with some unexpected twists and turns.

This is especially true if the team has built only analog speedometers and gauges in the past. Suddenly, everyone has to migrate from the 8- or 16-bit world to the 32-bit world. And that means a new tool chain, a new operating system, and a new way of thinking about software development.

For example:
  • Yesterday, you used a relatively simple task loop. Today, you have to create multithreaded apps.

  • Yesterday, you used static memory management. Today, you must allow for a dynamic heap and test carefully for potential heap leaks.

  • Yesterday, you didn’t worry much about code integration. Today, you must link or bundle a BSP, device drivers, graphics libraries, and numerous other components. Hello reliable build processes and configuration management.

  • Yesterday, you used traditional embedded skills: setting bits for I/O pins, reading A-to-D converters, sending CAN messages, and so on. Today, you have to bone up on Adobe Flash, socket programming, USB, or XML.

To help development teams identify and negotiate many of these roadblocks, Auto Electronics has posted a new article by QNX's Andy Gryc, titled "Design Challenges for Digital Instrument Clusters".

Check it out, and let me know what you think.

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