Reference Design

A term commonly used in electronics, micro-electronics and computing with respect to a wide range of products such as laptop and notebook computers, PDA’s, cellular telephones, games systems, radar systems, avionics, etc. It is a technical design for a system that contains and identifies all of that system’s basic elements. Using the reference design versions of a system or device can be produced, either in basic format, de-featured or with limited additional features.

A key aspect of a reference design is that compatibility issues with components, including software have usually been resolved, so that products developed around the reference design can be relied upon to work. Reference designs are expensive to create and modify, and because of subtle compatibility issues, their basic elements change infrequently. Hence for technology vendors being included in a reference design is a key commercial event, known as a “design-win”

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