Case Study: Independent Evaluation Enables a Development Kit to Hit a Home Run

Submitted by BDTI on Wed, 09/24/2014 - 22:00

BDTI is well known for its software-related capabilities: performance- and power consumption-related benchmarking, for example, along with algorithm evaluation and development and optimization work. In such projects, BDTI frequently employs semiconductor manufacturers' evaluation boards and associated software toolsets, which are often combined to create development kits. And as noted several months ago, BDTI is no stranger to hardware development, either, partnering with chip suppliers to co-create evaluation boards and other development kit contents. This diverse expertise also makes BDTI a valuable resource for independently evaluating development kits created by others.

Take this month's case study: A leading SoC vendor had created an Android-based development kit for its latest processor, and contracted with BDTI to evaluate the kit both from out-of-box experience and ease-of-use standpoints. First impressions were quite positive: Android booted on the board less than 10 minutes after opening the box, for example, and the included printed Quick Start Guide was an added bonus. Upon more in-depth exercising of the kit components, however, a number of issues came to the fore.

For example, the board support package (BSP) pre-built on the evaluation board contained numerous custom applications, some of which were critical to taking advantage of the board features, but these applications lacked documentation. Contradictory documentation created confusion about which sensors were present and supported on the board, and in any case, none of the included applications exercised them. A third-party application was partially successful in accessing the sensors, but download of the program to the board was complicated by incomplete and archaic USB driver installation instructions. And although the standalone BSP build process was simplified by provided scripts, initial build attempts were unsuccessful due to version incompatibilities, along with undocumented hard drive capacity requirements that resulted in running out of HDD space.

Each of these shortcomings was minor in scope and fairly easily resolved. Unfortunately, in aggregate they overshadowed what was predominantly a solid development kit offering. Admittedly, it can be quite difficult for kit creators to perceive "from the inside" the variety of ways in which diverse users will want to use a kit, and therefore to know what materials it should contain. The independent perspective of BDTI's knowledgeable engineering team can fill in gaps in your perspective, resulting in development kits that are user-friendly and robustly featured for application, driver, and BSP developers alike. As the SoC vendor's tools manager said, "BDTI's analysis pointed us clearly at the key things we could do make our kits easier to use."

To learn more about BDTI's development kit evaluation capabilities, contact Jeremy Giddings at BDTI (giddings@BDTI.com) or visit www.BDTI.com.

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