What is Revision Control?
Revision Control, (sometimes called hardware lifecycle management) is the ability to manage technology change over time.
With so much invested in your project and with so much potential for change, it’s important to choose a hardware vendor that understands your long term requirements. In the embedded world, effective revision management can be the difference between the success and failure of any project.
In my time with OnLogic, I have literally supported hundreds of folks as they developed innovative solutions on industrial hardware. This includes applications in automation, logistics, medical, physical security, cyber security, communications, digital media, and more. It truly is a testament to how versatile reliable computing platforms are.
What do all of these innovators have in common? They all need to perform their due diligence through various validation processes. Obviously, without functional testing, achieving real world results is a gamble. In other words, confidence in your selection is an asset! In the end it’s important to know that your hardware is locked in- hence: revision control!
Time is Not Always on Your Side
The underlying challenge that many teams face is that development, prototyping, beta deployments, and often regulatory efforts take time. (Check this article out to learn why you should consider a hardware prototype.) It’s not uncommon to find that after the better part of a year, we’re only then talking about steps needed to scale the program. And – all the while, the clock has been ticking. In the computer technology space, the clock feels like it’s ticking at an even faster pace!
Enter the idea of a long lifecycle – not to be confused with lifespan. Think of it like off-the-shelf insurance or an extended availability schedule for the parts that make your product whole. In other words, being able to standardize on a set of hardware and know it can be continually sourced for years to come. Now the prospect of discontinuance (EOL) is not so frightening. You’ve taken steps to ensure a cohesive product and now you get to enjoy the benefits of several more years of availability. (Check out this article for a great overview of Lifecycle vs. Lifespan.)
The Chain is Only as Strong as its Weakest Link
The concept is simple, but making it possible is much more complex. To ensure this level of stability, product teams need to consider each piece of the puzzle. Take motherboards as an example – there are processors, chipsets, controllers, power rails, I/O stacks, resisters, capacitors, jumpers, sockets and so on. Now consider this – each one of those bits and pieces has its own lifecycle. If one critical piece of the motherboard were to be discontinued, the whole board could be discontinued. So, those product teams make careful selections of parts that have lifecycles to align with the long-term strategy of the board.
Now take that approach we just used on the motherboard and apply it to the rest of the industrial PC: the memory, storage, expansion module(s), power adapter, etc.
The good news is that OnLogic and partners like Intel and AMD take care of these steps for you. In other words, that project you’ve invested months or years of development efforts into can launch as planned and you have peace of mind that you can offer it to your customers for years. When the long embedded lifecycle finally does draw nearer to End-of-Life (EOL), a good vendor will provide you with advance notice that gives you a runway for a smooth transition to a new or updated platform approach.
From Concept to Hardware Revision Control Strategy
With the benefit of long lifecycle parts, we now have a foundation for a stable platform strategy. But revision control is more than just parts; we must now consider the build methodology. Thanks to modularity, there are several different ways the same platform could be assembled. This is a benefit early on because it allows for dynamic configurations. However, at this stage we want to lock it down.
Process control is born through effective operational documentation, which includes assembly procedures, pictures, QA checks, testing & packaging workflows and often regulatory control measures. The goal is to root out the possibility of variation from system to system or batch to batch.
This also means that planned changes are now only executed through an engineering change order (ECO) process with key stakeholder sign offs.
The result? A static and revision controlled platform built with reliable hardware that can be sourced continually for years to come. And that’s the revision control – the OnLogic way.
Check out all of OnLogic Services to learn more about how we can help you at every step of your development cycle.