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Design Metrics 

A Design Metric is a measurable feature of the system’s performance, cost, time for implementation and safety etc. Most of these are conflicting requirements i.e. optimizing one shall not optimize the other: e.g. a cheaper processor may have a lousy performance as far as speed and throughput is concerned. Following metrics are generally taken into account while designing embedded systems 

NRE cost (nonrecurring engineering cost) 

It is one-time cost of designing the system. Once the system is designed, any number of units can be manufactured without incurring any additional design cost; hence the term nonrecurring. Suppose three technologies are available for use in a particular product. Assume that implementing the product using technology ‘A’ would result in an NRE cost of $2,000 and unit cost of $100, that technology B would have an NRE cost of $30,000 and unit cost of $30, and that technology C would have an NRE cost of $100,000 and unit cost of $2. Ignoring all other design metrics, like time-to-market, the best technology choice will depend on the number of units we plan to produce. 

Unit cost 

The monetary cost of manufacturing each copy of the system, excluding NRE cost.


The physical space required by the system, often measured in bytes for software, and gates or transistors for hardware. 


The execution time of the system 

Power Consumption

It is the amount of power consumed by the system, which may determine the lifetime of a battery, or the cooling requirements of the IC, since more power means more heat. 


The ability to change the functionality of the system without incurring heavy NRE cost. Software is typically considered very flexible. 


The time needed to build a working version of the system, which may be bigger or more expensive than the final system implementation, but it can be used to verify the system’s usefulness and correctness and to refine the system’s functionality. 


The time required to develop a system to the point that it can be released and sold to customers. The main contributors are design time, manufacturing time, and testing time. This metric has become especially demanding in recent years. Introducing an embedded system to the marketplace early can make a big difference in the system’s profitability. 


It is the ability to modify the system after its initial release, especially by designers who did not originally design the system. 


This is the measure of the confidence that we have implemented the system’s functionality correctly. We can check the functionality throughout the process of designing the system, and we can insert test circuitry to check that manufacturing was correct. 

Version 2 EE IIT, Kharagpur

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