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1998-02-04 20:59:12


Deadline: 9-9-99



The problem of embedded systems is enormous. To locate noncompliant chips is difficult in a world of, possibly, 25 billion chips. Chips older than three years are hard to replace. They may be impossible to replace -- no longer in production. Then comes testing. This article focuses on testing.

Note: the deadline is not Jan. 1, 2000. It is Sept. 9, 1999 -- the infamous 9-9-99 number.

This is from PLANT ENGINEERING (Jan.).

* * * * * * * * *

Non-compliant systems typically fall into three categories: top, medium, and low priority. For example, failure of a system that has a high impact on production or violates legislated regulations requires top priority. The remaining systems can then be grouped into medium and low-priority tasks, depending on the severity of the impact. Once non-compliant systems have been prioritized, there are several solutions that can be applied. . . .

System testing is undoubtedly one of the most difficult activities surrounding ensuring Year 2000 compliance. Ideally, plant control systems should be tested off-line (that is, when the plant is not operating). Even when a system appears to have accepted a Year 2000 entry, some side effects may still occur. For example, software that has a time limit on it may expire and be permanently non-functional. . . .

1. Test for high-risk dates in both powered-up and powered-down states to determine that system dates rollover correctly. These rollovers should include:

•From September 9, 1999, to September 10, 1999 •From December 31, 1999, to January 1, 2000 •From February 28, 2000, to February 29, 2000, and to March 1, 2000 (leap year dates) •From March 31, 2000, to April 1, 2000 (the first 31-day month after February 29) •From April 30, 2000, to May 1, 2000 (the first 30-day month after February 29).

2. Conduct tests on date-dependent functions such as those used for alarms, trends, reports, historical data, and file time stamps. Selected inputs should be simulated.

3. Special testing procedures should be followed for database management systems and LANs.  

Time is running short. To be in compliance by mid-1999, all systems must be identified for action (compliant vs non-compliant) and budgets approved for upgrades by the end of 1998. And be sure that any device or program purchased today is Year 2000 compliant. Some products marketed today still are not!


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