Technology Driven Obsolescence Management for Embedded Systems

University dissertation from Sundsvall : Mid Sweden University

Abstract: In this thesis, the work presented is in relation to technology driven obsolescence management for embedded systems.Component obsolescence problems may occur in systems with a life cycle longer than that of one or more of their components when there is a demand without enough existing stock, such as automotive, avionics, military applications, etc. This thesis analyzes the component obsolescence problem from both the design technology selection and management perspectives.Design technologies selection is associated with hardware and software. Several hardware platforms such as COTS and field-programmable gate array (FPGA) are discussed. FPGA intellectual property (IP) portability is emphasized which will affect the obsolescence management cost. Embedded software is also a crucial part for system sustainment. A risk analysis is performed in relation to long life cycle systems for different design technologies. Different platform cases are evaluated by analyzing the essence of each case and the consequences of different risk scenarios during system maintenance. This has shown that an FPGA platform with the vendor and device independent soft IPs has the highest maintainability and the minimum redesign cost.The reuse of a predefined IP can shorten the development times and assist the designer to meet time-to-market (TTM) requirements. System migration between devices is unavoidable, especially when it has a long life cycle expectation, so IP portability becomes an important issue for system maintenance. If an IP for FPGAs is truly portable, it must be easily adaptable to different communication interfaces, being portable between different FPGA vendors and devices, having no dependencies on the tool set and library used for the system design and no restriction on the communication interface. An M-JPEG decoder and a soft microprocessor portability analysis case study are presented in the thesis. A methodology is proposed to ease the interface modification and interface reuse, thus to increase the portability of an IP.A strategic proactive obsolescence management model is proposed from a management perspective. This model can estimate the minimum management costs for a system with different architectures. It consists of two parts. The first is to generate a graph, which is in the form of an obsolescence management diagram. A segments table containing the data of this diagram is calculated and prepared for optimization at a second step. This second part is to find the minimum cost for system obsolescence management. Mixed integer linear programming (MILP) is used to calculate the minimum management cost and schedule. The model is open sourced thus allowing other research groups to freely download and modify it.Both the design technology selection and the strategic proactive obsolescence management are demonstrated by an industrial display computer system case study. The results show significant cost avoidance as compared to the original method used by the company.Finally, the research results are encapsulated into an obsolescence management cost avoidance methodology.  

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