February 18, 2021

What Is Configuration Management? How to Prevent Hardware and Software Configuration Issues

IP Lifecycle Management

Configuration management is important to maintain stability and reduce risk. Especially in semiconductor development, when you need to have control over hardware configuration management AND software configuration management. 

In this blog, we provide a quick overview of configuration management and why it is important — and share how to prevent hardware and software configuration management issues. 

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What Is Configuration Management and Why Is It Important?

Configuration management is the process of establishing and maintaining consistency in a product from performance to functionality to physical attributes, efficiently managing requirements, design, and operational information for both hardware and software.

Configuration management is important because system-level design is challenging. It is hard enough managing hardware and software development projects independently. But being able to manage all the dependencies between the two disciplines — while also accounting for security concerns, scheduling, and distribution — is a very complex problem to tackle.

Unfortunately, configuration issues between hardware and software can cost your business millions of dollars if you make a mistake in releasing incorrect software. Recently, a major systems provider released an embedded software update that “bricked” half the devices in their product line. The cost of this mistake was monumental, not only in the time and effort required to quickly release a patch to fix this issue and the cost of lost productivity, but the company’s market cap was hit severely as a result of this mistake.

👀 Related resource from Puppet: What Is Configuration Management? >>

Hardware Configuration Management vs. Software Configuration Management: Key Issues

The underlying issue is in how companies manage these complex projects. Too often, each discipline is managed in its own silo. Hardware teams and software teams are often kept separated and rely on documentation to coordinate their development efforts. Embedded software teams often wait for register specs to be developed and then delivered to them after the hardware teams complete their designs, and hope that they are updated correctly while verification and design changes are happening.

Learn how Methodics IPLM can help eliminate design silos and solve your hardware and software configuration management challenges. 
📞 Talk to an expert today. >>

Complicating the process, there are often hardware platforms that offer slight differences between each item in the family. While a single version of software may run on the platform at first, slight hardware changes may make the updates to the software incompatible with all the products in the family. This was the issue that affected the company I mentioned above, where a slight difference in the embedded processor made the software update incompatible with half the product family.

How to Improve Configuration Management

In the webinar below, we share how to improve software configuration management and hardware configuration management.


One way to solve this challenge is by creating a system-level bill of materials (BoM) of all design assets, both hardware and software, so that all dependencies can be tracked between hardware and software. While most companies keep track of some representation of design assets, whether in a BoM or another form, tying all the BoMs together at a system level will allow for configuration mismatches to be spotted early, long before any designs get released.

Methodics IPLM has been used by many companies to create the BoM of IP for hardware designs for years, but more and more of our customers are now adopting it for software design as well. By abstracting design elements to the IP level, a single system level BoM for all hardware and software elements can be created to manage all configurations between hardware and software.

With a system-level BoM in place, configuration rules can be applied to the entire BoM to find and identify issues early, before any software or hardware releases. If there are slight hardware IP differences between BoMs in a product family, Methodics IPLM can quickly highlight those inconsistencies at the system BoM level, long before any software releases are performed.

The Methodics IPLM platform has enabled companies of all sizes to have complete control over the design and integration of digital assets as IPs, whether these assets are hardware blocks, software components, or firmware. In all cases, the base features of Methodics IPLM all contribute to providing the traceability and configuration management checking needed to spot issues early in the process -- before they become costly mistakes that impact customers. How? With a versioned, hierarchical BoM for a project, access control management, seamless Data Management (DM) support, and managed user workspaces. That’s why Methodics IPLM is trusted by 9 of the 10 top semiconductor companies

Find out how Methodics IPLM can keep hardware and software configuration issues from impacting your business. Talk to one of our semiconductor experts today.

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