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IBM Research, Samsung create software reuse solution

Posted: 12 Dec 2008 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:reuse software solution? embedded development? electronics consumer manufacturers?

IBM's Research Department and Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd have teamed up to develop a solution that facilitates the reuse of embedded software using a component-based development approach.

With consumer electronics software becoming increasingly complex and new variations in product lines becoming the de facto standard, CE companies are urgently looking for better ways to reuse the software they produce. By introducing the use of modeling and standards for components and architectures of product lines, the new technology by IBM researchers and Samsung can enable CE manufacturers to boost productivity, lower software development costs and shorten time-to-market.

"The best way to meet these demands for mass customization is through the introduction of software engineering methodologies and tools that will enable the industry to benefit from higher levels of automation and interoperability," explained Julia Rubin, manager of model driven engineering technologies at the IBM Haifa Research Lab. "By creating a new component market, the consumer electronics industry can be transformed from a production arena to an integration discipline."

Enabling research innovations
The collaboration between Samsung and IBM is part of IBM's First of a Kind program for new research innovations. The program brings IBM researchers together with other companies to create "industry-changing, first of a kind technologies." Samsung experts joined forces with IBM researchers to develop the component modeling technology. The two companies worked closely to improve the modeling language and tooling, and ultimately produce the new solution.

Printers are an example of a consumer electronics product line with a variety of models that could benefit from software reuse and simplified customization. A single printer model may have a number of variations, each with different combinations of features and functions. These variations in components include color or black and white printing, scanners, faxes, copiers and more. Much of the software for each of these printer models is identical, while other individual component variations need to be developed and managed before manufacturing the different models.

"Incorporating smarter mechanisms such as model validation and code generation has the potential to significantly improve the development process," noted Jagun Kwon, senior engineer at Samsung Electronics Software Laboratories in Korea. "The new development environment provided obvious benefits and was relatively easy to learn for anyone already familiar with component modeling."

Efficient re-use of components
The new technology has a potential to reduce the cost of creating, modifying and maintaining consumer electronics product lines by improving the productivity of CE software development and decreasing time-to-market. Much of this savings will come from the efficient re-use of existing components in new products, the integration of off-the-shelf components into new product lines and the standardized interfaces available with model-driven development.

Combining the composition of software components with product-line requirements, the new IBM technology works as a plug-in to the familiar rational development environment and is based on the UML standard modeling framework. Developers can automatically generate various product artifacts including build scripts and production-level code for each variation of a product. It also facilitates the move from legacy components and methodologies to model-driven development with the benefits of software development at a higher level of abstraction and with increased automation.

In addition to the new research collaboration, IBM recently looked at the electronics industry and has developed a report titled, "Rebooting the Electronics Industry," which illustrates ways electronic companies can operate efficiently in the new economic environment. The current economic environment is challenging global business leaders to aggressively rethink their strategies. Across the electronics industry, effects are likely to be quite different, reflecting the enormous diversity of the industry itself. From consumer electronics to medical devices, industry sub-segments will have to respond to lower consumer spending and stricter access to capital while continuing to value the necessity to innovate.

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