Do friends let friends drive networks?

If a car has 100 million lines of software code, can it still crash?

RED LIGHT, GREEN LIGHT. The most sophisticated mobile computing device these days might not be the iPhone, Droid or Curve in your hand but the machine under your foot. Cars are increasingly becoming computers — even networks — on wheels.

The engineering magazine IEEE Spectrum recently reported that a top-of-the-line car these days would likely have about 100 million lines of software code running on its 30 or so processors.

How to put that in perspective? The F-22 jet fighter has about 1.7 million lines of code, the magazine article states. The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter will have about 5.7 million lines when it hits the runway later this year.

To bring the comparison a little closer to home for the average worker or tech geek, consider Windows operating systems. Microsoft hasn’t revealed how many lines of code are in Windows 7, but we can follow the progression of the decade’s previous releases: Windows 2000 had 20 million lines, XP had 25 million, and Vista had 50 million.

A car's software performs different functions than an operating system, including a good amount of error-checking and backing up of its functions. But more software can also lead to more problems, as owners of Toyota’s Prius have discovered. So a high-end car or truck has twice as many lines of code as Vista does, which was widely derided as bloated. Considering the opinions a lot of people had about XP and Vista, does that mean these cars will run twice as well as Vista or half as well?

About the Author

Kevin McCaney is editor of Defense Systems. Follow him on Twitter: @KevinMcCaney.

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