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Rummaging through the Virtual Garage

John Day

John Day

Posted Feb 16, 2010

Mentor Graphics is acquiring the Virtual Garage software product line from Freescale Semiconductor and that brought two thoughts to mind: One, since the press announcement wasn’t very specific, what did Freescale say about the tools in its garage. Two, what nifty tools are there in my garage. Postponing an answer to #2 until sometime after the snow melts, I dug around in the archives and was impressed by what Freescale had to say.

Freescale emphasized its Virtual Architect (VA) tool suite and RAppID ToolBox. Time marches on and product lines evolve, so what I dug up may be classed as archaeology, but it sounds pretty useful.

As car companies add more electronic features, they are becoming system integrators, contending with system complexity and product complexity. Various domains (sensors, wiring harnesses, communications buses, electronic control units, etc.) operate semi-autonomously, so a change in the design of a component in one domain requires coordination among engineers of different domains.

The VA tool suite lets system engineers specify vehicle electrical and electronic performance requirements, communicate and collaborate with other EE engineering design domains, and conduct performance requirement validations. The result – synchronization of design specifications (harness, network and ECU), reducing development time and costs and the likelihood of errors. Chrysler was an early adopter. It used two tools in the VA suite – VA-Harness and VA-Complexity Management – to help ensure that every orderable vehicle has the required set of wire harnesses.

Freescale said its Garage tools offer single-point access to all essential electrical and electronics information and enable evaluation of cost/performance tradeoffs for alternative designs.

RAppID ToolBox was/is rapid prototyping software designed to help engineers migrate from application modeling environments to production implementations. Engineers can use it to determine how their applications will perform on target MCUs early in the development cycle and then work on optimization at the model level rather than at the code level.

Mentor says the Virtual Garage tools complement its own CHS software. If Freescale delivered on the promise, Mentor has a lot to work with.

Virtual Garage, Freescale Semiconductor, Mentor Graphics, CHS Software, VA-Harness, Virtual Architect, RAppID ToolBox, VA-Complexity Management

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John DayJohn Day recently launched John Day’s Automotive Electronics News ( to provide news and feature coverage of the automotive electronics industry. Earlier he wrote for Auto Electronics magazine, Auto E-lectronics, EE Times, and other business and engineering publications. Visit John Day

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