Alps Electric Co., Ltd

Customer story with Alps

"IAR Embedded Workbench is a very well-known brand, which provides advantages for us by removing barriers to enter the automotive market and deploy global business."

ALPS ELECTRIC CO., LTD. (Alps) is a Japanese design, manufacturing and distribution company with global reach. Alps provides various electric components and integrated module products for the consumer, mobile, energy, healthcare, industrial and automotive markets. The Firmware Engineering Department, responsible for the product software and application development as a cross-sectional department, here explains their key criteria for selecting development tools.

Background and tool selection

Alps and IAR Systems first got in contact 20 years ago. Back then, Alps used IAR Systems’ compiler for Motorola MC68HC11. 2 years ago, Alps restarted their relationship with IAR Systems when they started using IAR Embedded Workbench for Arm for their Arm-based products. The selection of IAR Embedded Workbench for Arm was done after a thorough internal evaluation and comparison process between different development tools.

Alps decision factors for the tools selection were:

  1. Good balance between cost and tool performance
  2. Outstanding compiler performance, where they found that IAR Embedded Workbench brings up to 30% smaller code size than other tools
  3. Direct sales and support without a distributor channel
IAR Embedded Workbench for Arm brought great value for us by enabling software development tool communalization and standardization for our Arm Cortex-M based application development. Furthermore, we are using the network license option, i.e. kind of a floating license, in order for our multiple engineers to execute efficient development work by accessing the network server at the same time.

Shorter time to market

Alps’ target application was a PEPS (Passive Entry, Passive Start) system for automotive, and it was required to meet only six months development lead time. Despite the very short development period and helped by IAR Embedded Workbench for Arm, they were able to reach their goal and create an integrated wireless module unit containing MCU and Bluetooth® communication IC.

We were required to migrate MCU platform from a legacy architecture to an Arm architecture with integrated security features, in addition to meeting AUTOSAR standard specifications, within only six months lead time.

Alps’ engineer comments continues:

"In order to meet the project schedule, we got direct and flexible support from IAR Systems and were satisfied specifically with the following four key points that helped us succeed:

  1. IAR Embedded Workbench for Arm was already proven in use for AUTOSAR/MCAL in the automotive market. Therefore, we could remove the technical concern of software compilation problem for the AUTOSAR OS maker.
  2. IAR Systems provided Japanese documentation so that we can fully understand the necessary tool operations.
  3. IAR Systems’ tools are user friendly due to the intuitive design. Our engineer who was not experienced with IAR Systems’ tools could use them without any issues.
  4. The free trial version available for download from IAR Systems’ website helped us clarify what we could and could not do prior to issuing the formal purchase request."

Deploying to the global market

Alps intends to develop a flexible platform for supporting various requests from automotive OEM manufactures in the global market. To achieve this, they have established a model-based unique software development method that is compiler architecture free. Alps considers the model based platform a very efficient system compared to a source code based system. Software can be reused and their development engineers only have to change the device unique drivers when changing the target MCU. The system allows Alps to efficiently deliver high quality products to automotive OEM and Tier-1 manufactures with reduced development times.

IAR Embedded Workbench is a very well-known brand in Europe and North America, which provides advantages for us by removing barriers to enter the automotive market and deploy global business. The tools are also globally deployed and supported.

Flexible license models

Alps decided to use a network license because it is the most convenient and cost-efficient licensing option for development teams. Using a network license, the can share a pool of licenses among a group of users over a network. This enables them to balance and allocate available license slots between the Bluetooth and automotive application development and support the project that needs the most attention at the moment.

Alps’ engineer comments:

"The network license provides a very convenient and cost-efficient setup for us. It is possible to check in and check out licenses among the assigned number of engineers. That means we can manage an allocation of license users in several projects based on the project priority."

To be honest, we were surprised to accomplish the tool introduction without any trouble, and the only feature requests we have for the IAR Systems team are really small issues. We are very satisfied with the tools!

Alps


For more information about the company, visit www.alps.com.

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