Easy Money

By paul ~ December 24th, 2008. Filed under: Industry, RAMS, Systems Engr., Tips & Tricks.

Perhaps you’ve read about the recent announcement of a new services offering by Green Hills Software.  Green Hills is a leading maker of embedded and real-time software development tools and real-time operating systems and they have extensive experience in the development of real-time embedded systems.  They’ve created a new Software Acceleration Division that

“will provide consulting services, leveraging the company’s extensive software performance engineering expertise, to make products run faster, use less power, and require less memory. Software Acceleration utilizes an extensive library of advanced profiling and optimization tools, combined with expert application methodology, to ensure success – backed by a Software Performance Guarantee™.”

They’ll make your software run faster on your existing platform or your money back!  They believe (and, based on my experience, I agree) that it’s easy money:

“We have been focused on making programs run faster for over 25 years,” stated Dan O’Dowd, founder and chief executive officer of Green Hills Software. “We have accumulated hundreds of years of experience in software acceleration. There’s not a program I have ever seen that we cannot make run at least 20% faster. We are so confident that we are willing to back our promise with a money back guarantee, unheard of in the industry.”

They go on to say

“We offer a truly unique value proposition,” stated Larry Luke. “I have been helping customers design and develop hardware and software for many years. Optimization is something that typically happens at the very end of the development cycle, or not at all, and it is usually performed by the same people who developed the software. In some projects, features do not get implemented because the systems are just too slow. We bring tools and expertise that are specialized for software performance engineering with a few hundred years of collective experience. On top of it all, we back our work with our Software Performance Guarantee.”

Ever since the “Make it work, then make it fast.” software development philosophy came into vogue (along with sloppy application of OOD), there’s been lots of room for performance improvement in software implementations.  The biggest problem with the “tune the performance after the fact” philosophy is that it sometimes produces architectures that just won’t meet the performance requirements.  I don’t need to tell you how expensive a change to architecture is at or after implementation.

Obviously, Green Hills is offering a valuable service that is much needed.  I don’t doubt that they’ve hit on a great business formula and will have many takers.  [ I do wonder if there won’t be some embarrassed development teams after they’re done :-) ]  However, their offering focuses on fixing your performance problems after implementation, which is a little like closing the barn door after the horse has already escaped.  What if we could ensure that your systems met their performance requirements the first time?

Over the past 20 years, I’ve likewise encountered numerous opportunities for performance improvement.  Unfortunately, we’re often brought in too late to really address the fundamental issues of poor system architecture.  We have powerful tools that enable trade studies and analysis to ensure that your architecture will actually meet its requirements before you commit to a hard implantation.  Good design will ensure that your software will perform as expected and that your platform will be optimized to perform its tasks with the appropriate level of resources.  In short, we want to help you address the root cause of the problem as described by Larry Luke, VP of Sales for the new division, in the EETimes article about the announcement.

“In many cases the hardware team will do their thing, the software team will do theirs, then the two will come together and the product will be pushed out quickly to meet deadlines without any real attention paid to fully optimizing the code to make it run faster,” said Luke. “Consumers notice right away: slow boot time, slow channel change. Things that ultimately affect the sales of a product.”

My experience is that we can help you not only achieve faster software but cheaper hardware with lower power consumption!

Foresight provides a full range of services to complement our software offerings, so please let us help stamp out poor system design.  Let’s work together to solve the problem before we need to ask Green Hills, or others, to come in and fix the mess.

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