Harmke de Groot is director Development & Engineering for Machine Control and Infrastructure at ASML. This column represents a personal opinion.


Reaching for the stars without stellar development costs

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Every piece of software still in use is going to expand tremendously, that’s a given. What can be done to contain the associated cost increases?

Software development is similar to hardware development, yet also very different. Many companies that were hardware oriented in the past struggle to make the transition towards being a software company that also develops a bit of hardware. Software is like a gas: as there’s always new functionality to realize, software size will grow to the extent of the container – and the cloud is a seriously big container.

Keeping existing systems up-to-date usually means a 10-30 percent increase in code size per year. This empirical range is found in well-known systems such as Linux, Windows and Photoshop but also in automotive entertainment systems. The code increase is mainly the result of adding additional functionality and features, while the main aim of the system doesn’t change. When developing completely new functionality, such as control software for autonomous electrical driving, your codebase can easily grow 60-70 percent per year.

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