New software that aids in the design of printed circuit boards (PCBs) is said to be optimized for independent engineers, those typically part of a small to mid-sized company, or members of an isolated team within a large enterprise.
Called the PADS family of PCB design software by its creator, Mentor Graphics Corp., the software is set up for engineers whose typical duties include building prototypes, validating reference designs, performing manufacturability studies, and designing PCB products. The capabilities of the PADs software contrasts with PCB enterprise solutions that tend to include a lot of back-end infrastructure requirements.
There are three PADs packages, Standard, Standard Plus and Professional, each designed to handle increasing levels of design complexity. Mentor says they are created with the idea that the design process can involve varying degrees of difficulty — for example, the schematic entry and layout of a PCB may require analysis such as signal integrity, thermal, design-for-manufacturability, and power distribution network integrity.
The PADS products start at $5,000 including support. PADS software uses technologies found in the Mentor Graphics flagship Xpedition product. Specifically, PADS Standard is the most basic PCB package and handles schematic and PCB layout with a starter parts library, part creation wizard and archive management. It also has some autorouting capabilities. It costs $5,000 USD including support. The second package, PADS Standard Plus, includes everything found in PADS Standard and adds advanced constraint management, high-speed net constraints and routing, central library creation and management, HyperLynx-powered signal/thermal/analog simulation, and variants design. Its price tag is $10,000 USD including support. Finally, PADS Professional has everything found in PADS Standard Plus, but includes Xpedition-powered technologies such as sketch routing, simultaneous 2D/3D layout, hierarchical placement planning, component and net explorers, manufacturing prep and design review/compare. Its price tag is $18,000 USD including support.
All PADs packages include correct-by-construction methodology: Enabled by a common constraint management system used across the flow to support advanced high-speed topologies and design for manufacture, minimizing design cycle iterations. Designers can virtually prototype their system powered by the HyperLynx product with signal/power integrity analysis, analog or thermal simulation and advanced full-board rule checks, minimizing expensive, time-consuming physical prototype cycles. Layout functions use the same technology as the Xpedition PCB product for placement/planning, 2D/3D layout, dynamic power distribution design, and constraint-driven routing including the Sketch Router tool to tackle complex layouts.
Engineers can use over 360,000 parts via PartQuest, a fully integrated website that also merges Digi-Key part numbers with symbols and footprints, reducing manual errors and saving time and cost. PADs can also help engineers validate the design for fabrication and test, and prepare it for manufacturing hand-off and documentation.
More info: PADs website: www.pads.com
Mentor Graphics Corp., 8005 S.W. Boeckman Road, Wilsonville, OR 97070-7777, www.mentor.com,