Build versus Buy - Understanding the Total Cost of Embedded Design
October 13, 2009 === === When developing an embedded system, deciding which technology to implement as the system’s primary controller is one of the first key engineering milestones. In addition to considering processor architectures, operating system capabilities, and other components, you must decide which portion of the system to design and which portion to buy off the shelf. By designing and building a custom controller, you can completely customize the end solution and optimize costs, but any design specification changes or oversights can cause lengthy and expensive delays. Alternatively, using an off-the-shelf platform increases the cost of goods sold (COGS), and you may pay for features that are not necessary for your design. Nevertheless, off-the-shelf systems typically offer a faster validation cycle and, therefore, shorter time to market. This tutorial outlines two options for developing a new controller – build or buy – and discusses the technical and financial risks associated with both.