“There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don’t know we don’t know. “ -Donald Rumsfeld
OK, I took a bit of liberty here. He wasn’t really talking about soft systems but his quote is perfectly applicable to any complex undertaking– such as designing an electronic system. I read an article recently by Xilinx CEO Moshe Gavrielov in Electronics Weekly and it made me think of Don Rumsfeld’s famous quote. Moshe wrote about how the roll-out of 28 nm FPGAs in 2012 will accelerate the trend toward FPGA based soft systems. His main point is that economic and technological trends are leading to “the programmable imperative”. To me though, what matters most is that chip-level integration plus programmability means we can put a system on a chip and we can change it when needed. It’s really a new level of flexibility in the product development process. That’s what got me thinking about Don Rumsfeld’s quote. When you hit an unknown unknown during product development the flexibility of a soft system can save the day.