Model Based System Engineering (MBSE) helps us manage product complexity. Today’s complex products use a combination of electronics, software, and mechanics, which creates complex cross-product interactions that must be managed. To deal with this, systems engineers are trained to ask “Why?” so they can understand the reason behind decisions to make better cross-domain product decisions. (I did not know it at the time, but I was trained in college for the current conversations I’m having with my teenager which all begin with “Why?”). In this case, “Why do we need MBSE?” The short answer…to survive product complexity.
Coming out of engineering school, I went to work in the high-tech industry. One of the early projects I worked on was developing an auto-router for routing circuits for ~100k gate IC’s (out on the bleeding edge back then). We were quite proud of our work on circuit routing, taking around 6 hours per run with the best computing power we had at the time. We had the opportunity to brief one of the chief engineers, Dr. Charles Rose (one of the inventors of hardware description languages). Dr. Rose was complimentary of our efforts… but then added, “You’re never going to route a billion-gate integrated circuit in your lifetime that way.” My thought at the time was, “That crazy old Rose, what does he know? There is no way chips could get that big!” (I wasn’t a believer in Moore’s Law at the time). Gordon Moore and Dr. Rose were right:
- NVIDIA graphics cards now pushing supercomputer status with 21 billion transistors
- Largest gate count as of this writing is the 1 TB memory chips up around 2 trillion transistors