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In This Issue - December 1994 Volume 45 Issue 6

CURRENT ISSUE - December 1994 Volume 45 Issue 6

The Digital Data Storage or DDS format for tape drives was developed in 1989 to meet the need for high-capacity, compact tape backup for network servers and small multiuser systems. The DDS standard is based on the Digital Audio Tape or DAT standard and has been extended as backup capacity requirements have increased. DDS-2 drives have recently become available, and higher-capacity DDS-3 and DDS-4 specifications have already been approved. DDS-2 drives can store four gigabytes of data on a single cartridge, or typically eight gigabytes with 2-to-1 data compression. The HP C1533A DDS-2 tape drive can record a full DDS-2 cartridge in just over two hours, running at a data transfer rate of 510 kilobytes per second. This is almost an hour faster than typical DDS-2 drives. As explained in the article on page 6, achieving this performance required improvements in tape material, tape length, tape thickness, read and write heads, drum design, and linearity measurement and adjustment. For many systems, eight gigabytes isn't enough, and it isn't convenient for the typical user to change cartridges during the backup, which must often be done at night. The HP C1553A DDS tape autoloader was developed to meet this need. As Steve Dimond tells us in the article on page 12, the size constraints gave the designers their major challenge. The autoloader had to fit into a standard 5 1/4-inch peripheral enclosure (about 5.75 inches wide), incorporate the four-inch-wide HP C1533A tape drive, hold as many tapes as possible, and be reliable and ergonomic. "As many tapes as possible" turns out to be six, giving the autoloader a typical capacity of 48 gigabytes with 2-to-1 data compression. Different strategies for using this capacity for network backup are discussed in the article. The complex retry algorithms required for controlling the autoloader are defined in state tables, which are generated by an automatic tool that greatly increases readability and maintainability, as explained in the article on page 21. In a companion article, on page 27, firmware designer Mark Sims shares with us his experience using different approaches to the implementation of state machines, exploring the advantages and disadvantages of each approach.

Debuggers are software tools that are used by software developers for finding bugs in programs and for analyzing programs. The debugger described in the article on page 33 is called HP DDE, which stands for distributed debugging environment, meaning that this debugger can debug programs running on remote computers. It's an event-based debugger, which means that it responds to user-specified events that occur during program execution. It consists of a main debugger that communicates with several modules called managers, which handle dependencies on specific languages, object code formats, target platforms, and user interfaces. This modularity has made it easy to retarget the debugger to many different languages and computer platforms, both HP and non-HP.

Most engineers are familiar with Fourier analysis, in which a time-varying voltage is expressed as the sum of a set of sinusoidal basis functions of different frequencies and amplitudes. Wavelet analysis, described in the article on page 44, is similar, but the basis functions, called wavelets, are not sinusoidal and are localized in time and frequency. The properties of wavelets make them useful for processing nonstationary signals such as a sum of gliding tones or a sum of three signals that start at different times. The article gives an overview of wavelet analysis and describes a software toolbox created by HP Laboratories Japan to aid in the development of wavelet applications.

Test vector is a test-engineer term for a pattern of ones and zeros that an automatic tester applies to the inputs of an integrated circuit or a printed circuit assembly to make sure that it works. Generating and verifying test vectors is a nontrivial process that's carried out with the aid of specialized software tools and can take six months or so to complete. As explained in the article on page 55, engineers at one HP laboratory have been able to reduce this time to four months, thanks to five techniques that mainly verify that the test access port is functioning properly. It's known that detecting and fixing software bugs early in the development cycle is much less costly than dealing with them late in the cycle. Software inspections are one means for early bug detection. One HP software laboratory has used data collected during inspections and testing to estimate the value (expressed as the return on investment) of inspections and early testing. Their results show a return on investment of 787% for inspections, compared to 229% for testing. Details are in the article on page 60.

The latest generation of high-performance microprocessor chips operates at clock rates up to 150 megahertz and leaves little room for imprecision or uncertainty in the clock delivery system. Using Intel's Pentium(TM) chip as an example of this new class of processors, the article on page 68 shows that the jitter tolerance for the clock delivery system can be as low as 50 picoseconds, making it essential to use a low-jitter signal source such as the HP 8133A pulse generator when making measurements on such systems. The HP 8133A's jitter specification of five picoseconds (rms) ensures that most of the measured jitter comes from the clock delivery system and not from the signal source.

The report on page 80 presents some recent results of an HP Laboratories project aimed at modeling and simulating a manufacturing enterprise. The goal of this ongoing research is to learn to predict the likely results of changes using sound engineering principles and techniques. The results in this report are from simulation experiments using a model called the Simple Model because of its structural simplicity. Despite its simplicity, the model displayed complex dynamic behavior and produced unexpected results. The author suggests that application areas for enterprise modeling and simulation include estimating the effects of incremental improvements, studying the impacts of process changes, generating enterprise behavior information, and increasing the chances for success of reengineering efforts.

R.P. Dolan,

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