System Design in Consumer Electronics: Key Steps and Process Explained 


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:

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. 

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. 

Hardware-Software Partitioning

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.

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:

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

Steps in Conducting a Trade Study


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.

Practical Example

For example, in a smart home system:


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