Monday, February 22, 2016

Premature Optimization during Design

As I design my embedded software, I am always looking for the most efficient tools and design. We have limited resources and must therefore constrain our designs.  Or do we?

I remember struggling to get Donald Knuth's TeX typesetting system to compile and run on the big DEC2060 timesharing system back in 1984. It was a beast of an application and not written to run on anemic platforms. It was Knuth's idea to solve the typesetting problem, not write an application that would run on limited hardware.

Now, TeX (same sources pretty much) can run on your Android phone.

Back in 1986 I was trying to get Richard Stallman's Emacs to compile and run under Unix. It was a big, bloated and slow beast  (but worth it for all the power it gave me -- I was already an Emacs addict for a couple of years).

Now, I install it on every Linux/BSD laptop I use and fire it up as needed.

These systems (and others) were not designed to work on minimal hardware, but over the years hardware caught up with them.

I am not advocating that IoT devices use big bloated tools, but as far as "basestations" go... why are we constraining ourselves to RasPis and Beaglebones?

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