The Octo+ Design Space Exploration project

Model-based support for product family design


One of the key challenges in designing complex high-tech systems is to make the necessary trade-offs between system qualities. Examples of such system qualities are performance, reliability, robustness and output quality. Usually, the design of a new system is not a greenfield activity; it typically builds on existing design assets or product platforms. In other words, most system design activities incorporate some kind of ‘product family’ approach. The Octo+ Design Space Exploration project focuses on improving the efficiency of the overall product innovation process through model-based techniques for analysis of trade-offs between critical design choices.

Application

The lead user of the Design Space Exploration (DSE) project is Océ, a Canon company and leader in the development of world-class professional printers. Océ is developing a family of wide format printers that can be used in a broad variety of markets and professional applications.

Based on the behaviour of existing printers, generic models have been developed from parameterized model elements. These are used to predict key system qualities for new generation printer designs. By analysing design alternatives, for example, for image processing steps and characteristics of the computational platform, early design trade-offs can be made, such as for printing quality and performance of the data path.

Research results

The research in the Octo+ Design Space Exploration project focuses on a model-based design approach that allows optimization of critical design trade-offs early in the product design stage. It is based on a library of parameterized model elements that describe the behaviour of a software-intensive embedded system. By creating models for the key components, and calibrating and validating those models using existing product family members, an accurate model representation for the functional and non-functional characteristics for a future design is obtained.

The approach incorporates the development of:

  • a functional model that represents the system in terms of the functional characteristics
  • a performance model to identify the individual processing steps and their mapping to the computational platform

The combination of both models provides an accurate representation of the system’s functionality and performance. This allows the system architect to perform design space exploration in an early product design stage, thereby optimizing design trade-offs for cost, quality and performance.

A further derived benefit of this model-based support for product family design is that it can be extended with capabilities for automatic code generation. This extension significantly improves the efficiency and quality of the software engineering stage.

Value proposition

Many software-intensive systems are modular systems built up from generic algorithmic and computational components. By building a library of parameterized model elements for these components and calibrating them using existing product family members, an accurate model representation of the characteristics of future products is obtained.

This model-based approach for system design provides significant improvements to the design of complex high-tech systems. It optimises the trade-off between system performance and functionality. Using virtual prototypes instead of physical implementations in optimising the design leads to significant cost-savings. Development costs are reduced while system quality and performance are enhanced.