What do embedded developers and gamers have in common? More than you think, as commercial 3D graphics cards – commonly marketed to gamers – are an important design tool for systems developers in graphics-heavy markets like medical design. There is however, a world of difference in how these cards are used, and embedded developers face a significant challenge ensuring consistency and longevity in long-life systems incorporating these shorter-life commercial components. Fortunately not all commercial cards are created equal, and there are new graphics cards available with longer-than-expected commercial availability for the embedded realm.
Even so, committing to card-based graphics drives developers to plan for obsolescence as a strategic consideration early in the design phase. Early collaboration with your manufacturing partner assures the greatest number of flexible options, which vary according to OEM needs, volumes and requirements. Stocking programs may include purchasing parts based on OEM forecasts; bonded programs source components and then stock and hold them based on the OEM’s purchase order and forecast. Some designs require more secure partner stocking programs optimized to manage shorter lifecycles, illustrated by Corvalent’s purchase order-based, non-cancellable procurements for long-term, consistent stocking of components.
Most importantly for developers, new, extended life graphics cards and their associated costs must be evaluated in terms of an overall system strategy. Greater upfront costs reduce long-term total cost of ownership for medical deployments – providing a more efficient path for replacing or upgrading cards less frequently. Given the unique design challenges of 3D performance, OEMs may not be fully aware of the requirements for creating a long-term bonded product. Ask the right questions, and work closely with supply partners for the most effective component management.