Why Timing Analysis?

Embedded real-time systems have to meet timing constraints. Simply put, such systems only work correctly if their timing is correct. A system that does not execute in time is broken and possibly dangerous.

Consider a ‘lane-keep assist’ that has only a few 100 milliseconds to determine if a vehicle is drifting off lane, and to steer the vehicle back towards the lane center if necessary. If this timing constraint is exceeded, the vehicle may drive into incoming traffic or off the road, with potentially catastrophic outcome. Other real-time automotive systems include fuel injection (to minimize fuel consumption and emissions), keyless entry (when the driver approaches, the vehicle has to run a security check to authorize access, unlock the doors, position the power seat, connect to the driver’s smart phone, launch the current music track), etc.

Value Proposition

The number of embedded real-time systems and their integration complexity are growing dramatically. Systems are now developed by thousands of engineers distributed between OEMs and many suppliers, and no single person fully understands the complex timing of the integrated system. Therefore, a key integration challenge has become to ensure that all functions execute in real-time, considering all dependencies and interactions between them. The integrated solution must provide the necessary processing and communication resources, and the respective operating systems and communication protocols must be configured correctly. The solution should also be cost-effective, i.e. avoid over-engineering.

Timing analysis has become a key technique to plan, optimize and verify the architecture, configuration, integration and correct timing of embedded real-time systems. Benefits include:

  • Avoiding costly redesigns or even recalls by systematically planning and verifying the proper integration, availability, reliability and safety of time-critical functions, including planning of performance reserves.
  • Cost-optimizing the required electronics through proper integration planning, budgeting of available execution times and communication bandwidths, and proper configuration of RTOS and communication protocols.

Finding the sweet spot (cost-optimal but still reliable and safe) is a key objective in systems engineering. Timing analysis gives our customers the best of both: it is the technique of choice to find the cost-optimal system which is able to execute the desired functions reliably in real-time, every time.