TJ, I agree with you that these capabilities have been around for awhile, and actually go way back further than the introduction of PACs. Making it easy to collect information is one step, and also for users to gain confidence that the machine controller has both the processing power and flexibility to do multiple tasks without creating problems with machine control.
It won't be too much longer and hardware design, as we used to know it, will be remembered alongside the slide rule and the Karnaugh map. You will need to move beyond those familiar bits and bytes into the new world of software centric design.
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