Re: FLY-BY-WIRE (AIRBUS vs. BOEING)

From:         yarvin@CS.YALE.EDU (Norman Yarvin)
Organization: Yale Computer Science Department
Date:         01 Jul 95 02:24:41 
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Robert Dorsett writes:

> Oh, and Boeing is also proudly proclaiming this airplane has more computers
> than any other airplane.  Something on the order of 150.  For those who
> think this is a good thing, I guess Boeing is winning the chip war. :-)

My guess is that most of these are single-chip microcontrollers which
perform simple functions and are not connected to other computers.
There's a reason why these microcontrollers have found their way into a
whole lot of things including many pieces of consumer electronics: even
though a circuit implemented with transistors, capacitors, small logic
chips containing a few gates, and so forth, is generally simpler (if
one takes a broad perspective and counts the complexity that has to be
dealt with by the designers of the microcontroller), it also often:

	1. takes more space. (It's a lot of discrete components as opposed
		to a single chip.)
	2. weighs more.
	3. costs more. (A simple microcontroller costs under a dollar.
		Individually packaged transistors are cheaper but one
		needs more of them.)
	4. is harder to design.  (Programming is easier than designing
		a circuit.)

Calling microcontrollers computers is a bit of a stretch, because they
are not what most people think of when they hear the word computer.
But strictly speaking they are computers, just small ones.


--
Norman Yarvin						yarvin@cs.yale.edu
 "I have observed that persons of good sense seldom fall into disputes,
  except lawyers, university men, and men of all sorts that have been
  bred at Edinborough." -- Ben Franklin