System design in consumer electronics refers to the process of creating functional electronic products or systems that meet specific user needs. In order to understand system design, it is important to first define what a system is. A system can be defined as a collection of elements that work together to achieve a common goal or purpose [NASA SE HANDBOOK]. In the context of consumer electronics, a system refers to the combination of electronic components and subsystems that function collaboratively to deliver the desired functionality and meet the identified user needs. These user needs are determined through thorough market research and are then translated into specific product requirements.
Electrical System Design Steps
Electrical system design, a subset of system design, focuses on utilizing different functional blocks or elements to build electronic products that fulfill the identified requirements.
To better understand the process of electrical system design, let's break it down into three main steps:
Generate Electrical Engineering Requirements:
The first step involves defining the functions, performance criteria, and constraints based on the product requirements. This gives a comprehensive understanding of what the product aims to achieve.
Define Electrical Architecture:
Upon establishing the requirements, the next phase involves designing an electrical architecture. This architecture serves as a blueprint for how different components will interact to meet the product requirements. It involves the selection and arrangement of functional blocks that can fulfill the identified electrical criteria.
One key aspect of this architecture is hardware-software partitioning. This process decomposes engineering requirements into a set of specific hardware and software solutions aimed at meeting both functional and performance constraints.
Component Selection Through Trade Studies
Another crucial aspect of defining the electrical architecture is component selection, often facilitated by trade studies. Trade studies involve evaluating multiple component options against a set of criteria like cost, performance, power consumption, and availability. This systematic approach ensures that the chosen components align well with the product's requirements and constraints, thereby optimizing the overall system design.
Implement the Design:
In the final step, the chosen electrical architecture is brought to life. This is done through the use of electronic design automation (EDA) tools. These tools help create schematic and layout files that can be used for manufacturing the product in the build stage.The design phase transforms the conceptual electrical architecture into tangible files that can be used to produce the final product.
By following these three steps, the electrical system design process ensures that the electronic product being developed meets the identified requirements and performs as intended.
One of the most critical tasks in system design is hardware-software partitioning. This involves deciding which functionalities should be implemented in hardware and which should be realized in software. Proper partitioning can significantly impact the system's efficiency, scalability, and maintainability. The steps often include:
Profiling: Understanding computational bottlenecks and performance metrics is crucial before diving into partitioning.
Manual or Automated Partitioning: Designers can rely on their expertise or use specialized algorithms and tools to allocate tasks between hardware and software components.
Iterative Refinement: The initial partitioning can be refined through testing to better align with performance specifications.
One of the most pivotal stages in electrical system design is component selection. This is often facilitated by conducting trade studies, a systematic method of evaluating multiple component options against a defined set of criteria.
Importance of Trade Studies
Optimization: Trade studies allow for an optimized design by comparing the cost, performance, and power consumption among various components.
Risk Mitigation: By evaluating multiple options, trade studies help in identifying and mitigating risks associated with component selection.
Alignment with Requirements: A well-conducted trade study ensures that the components are well-aligned with the product requirements, offering a balanced solution that meets both functional and performance constraints.
Steps in Conducting a Trade Study
Identify Criteria: Define the criteria against which components will be evaluated. This could include factors like cost, power consumption, performance, and availability.
List Options: Create a comprehensive list of potential components that could meet the requirements.
Evaluate: Use the defined criteria to evaluate each component option. This often involves a weighted scoring system.
Compare and Contrast: Summarize the evaluations in a comparative format, often using tables or charts for clarity.
Make a Decision: Choose the component that best meets the criteria, keeping in mind the overall system requirements and constraints.
Document: Keep detailed records of the trade study for future reference and possible audits.
Suppose you are choosing a microcontroller for a smart home device. Criteria could include processing speed, power consumption, cost, and community support. After a thorough trade study, you might find that a specific microcontroller stands out as the most balanced choice, thereby justifying its selection.
For example, in a smart home system:
A display is integrated for visual output.
A speaker fulfills audio playback needs.
A microphone is incorporated for audio capture.
A Voice Activity Detector (VAD) could be hardware-implemented on a separate low-power chip to offload the "always-on" detection of voice presence, thereby efficiently utilizing resources.
System design in consumer electronics involves creating electronic products or systems that fulfill specific user needs.
A system is a collection of elements that work together to achieve a common goal or purpose.
Functional blocks, such as displays, speakers, and microphones, are integrated to meet specific needs in consumer electronics.
Electrical system design focuses on using functional blocks to meet product requirements.
The process includes generating electrical engineering requirements, defining an electrical architecture, and implementing the design using specialized tools.
Requirements: The initial step involves generating electrical engineering requirements.
Architecture: The electrical architecture is then defined, serving as a blueprint for component interaction, including hardware-software partitioning.
Component Selection: Trade studies are conducted to choose components that best align with system requirements and constraints.
Implementation: The design is implemented using specialized EDA tools.
System design in consumer electronics entails the integration of different elements to create electronic products that align with user needs. Electrical system design plays a crucial role in this process, encompassing requirements definition, architecture development, and design implementation