Mentor Graphics renews high-end PCB design tools: starting with layout

March 18, 2014 // By Graham Prophet
Mentor has embarked on a revision of its printed-board design software at the high-end, with the launch of its Xpedition platform. Mentor says it is addressing today’s printed circuit board (PCB) systems challenges of increased complexity, changing team demographics, and systems-aware design requirements

Over time, the Xpedition platform will see introductions in a number of different technology domains – signal integrity, power-awareness, and thermal design, for example – but this step focusses on layout and routing. Director of Engineering at Mentor’s System Design Division, Charles Pfeil, emphasises that although this introduction brings to market work that has been under way as long as six years, it is based on prior Mentor products and in that sense is a next-generation continuation, for existing users.

The Mentor team says that the methodologies embodied in Xpedition recognise the changing way that complex PCBs are designed; the traditional “PCB engineer” has largely disappeared and the specialist knowledge of the circuit designer has to be applied directly to the board design process in a “systems-aware” manner that also connects to manufacturing.

An intuitive design environment makes use of hierarchical groupings of components and functions, with full awareness of connectivity. Many of the features of Xpedition look familiar – initial placement of functional groups, display of un-routed connection density to effect placement, floorplanning and routing automation – but Mentor says that each has new depths of features, effectiveness and usability; the company terms it as “designer-driven automation”. The package, “addresses key challenges of today’s systems designers: placement planning for performance and reuse; efficient routing of complex, dense topologies; and electro-mechanical optimisation.”


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