A comparison of Multiple PCB design and EDA simulation tools

2019/2/19 13:52:39

Evaluating the pros and cons of EDA design tools is a more controversial topic, and it is difficult to draw an authoritative conclusion. Because each tool has its own characteristics, corresponding to different industry sectors. The demand for electronic development tools varies widely from industry to industry. So instead of which one is the most optimistic, it is better to say which one is more suitable for you, or which kind of tool is more needed. ALLPCB will simply share my experience with the experience.

PADS (Power PCB) is an excellent PCB design tool of Mentor. Its advantages are simple entry, easy to use and flexible, simple and clear design process, high work efficiency, good interoperability between schematic and PCB, etc... The popularity of this tool in small and medium-sized enterprises is quite high. It is used in a wide range of applications, such as consumer product design, mobile phone motherboards, industrial product design, and more. I also like this tool platform very much. However, the PADS tool also has certain deficiencies. For example, the main design environment PADS-Layout and the routing tool PADS-Router are two independent interfaces, which need to be frequently switched when used, and the integration is not very good. In addition, when the design scale is large, the operation fluency will be significantly reduced, which will affect the work efficiency. In addition, the support for complex design rules is not perfect, and some complicated design rules cannot be quickly implemented by conventional function settings. The design efficiency of high-end products has a significant impact.

efficiency of high-end products

Mentor EE (Expedition Enterprise) is the same tool as Mentor, and EE is a powerful tool for large-scale design projects, multi-person online synchronization and team battles. Its PCB wiring quality and efficiency are excellent, and the platform of Mentor tools is excellent. The system and management are perfect and rigorous. There are corresponding solutions from front-end schematic design to back-end engineering manufacturing. This is an important reason why large enterprises like to use Mentor. However, from the negative side of the specification, the tool platform is slightly complicated. Generally, a special team is required for management and maintenance to fully utilize its efficiency. This is certainly not a problem for large enterprises, but for some companies that focus on specific areas. That said, sometimes the importance of platform management is to give way to product development progress and efficiency, so at this time another Cadence's Allegro tool will be faster and more efficient.

Cadence Allegro can be said to be the hottest PCB design tool on the earth. It has many advantages, such as friendly software operation interface, response speed block, high operation efficiency, rich secondary development function, perfect rule manager function, and high-speed design exclusive. Powerful and so on. It supports the large-scale projects well, and will not greatly reduce the response speed because of the scale of the design. The design project of tens of thousands of Pins with Allegro will not be much pressure, so for the communication industry, commercial servers, and industrial control, It is very suitable for the military industry. Of course, everything has two sides, Allegro also has some shortcomings, such as the wiring push function is relatively weak, but fortunately its wiring operation efficiency is very high, to some extent make up for the weakness of the push function; in addition, with the increase of design complexity After the number of layers of copper is increased, the efficiency of copper foil processing will be significantly slower; there is also a slight trouble in the incompatibility of high and low versions due to software upgrades.

In addition, because this tool is very powerful, learning to get started is more difficult than tools such as PADS.


Altium is also a popular EDA tool in China. The early version is called Protel. This tool is used earlier in China. It is easy to use and easy to use. It is very convenient to use it to make simple small project design. The Protel-99SE accompanied us. How many sleepless nights have pass. This tool is like an old friend who brought us in, and we walked through the early stages of learning and growth.

However, the new version of Altium software is relatively resource intensive, responsive and operationally inefficient, and the core design features are basically inferior to several other tools. For these reasons, it is rare in high-end project development teams. Go to it.

However, Altium also has some features that are more distinctive, such as the 3D display effect is very beautiful, etc., based on its simple operation, easy to get started quickly, and the promotion of college teaching, so its popularity in the country is still very high.

So, which one is better? In fact, the tools are not bad, depending on the needs of the users, the degree of mastery of the tools, and the effectiveness of the tools.

As a PCB design engineer, when designing a design tool, you must think about whether it is suitable for your field. If you are pursuing high-end and complex tools at the beginning stage, it will be difficult to exert its effectiveness and the progress of learning will be difficult to achieve.

In addition to the basic PCB design tools, basically every PCB design platform has its schematic design tools, such as Protel-SCH, PADS-Power logic, Dx Designer, Concept HDL, ORCAD, etc. Features, this depends on the designer's personal habits and platform needs to choose.

At the same time, Mentor and Cadence also have a series of electronic development tool platforms, such as IC design, FPGA design, etc., which are not in the PCB design field, so we will not discuss it for the time being. Several other tools, Hyper Lynx, HFSS, and ADS, are part of the signal simulation analysis class and are mainly used in high-speed signal integrity simulation.

Hyper Lynx (owned by Mentor) is suitable for fast DDR parallel signal simulation analysis. Its operation is simple and fast, and it is highly efficient. It is a very popular 2D/2.5D signal integrity analysis tool, and its PI simulation analysis is also very efficient. It's fast, so the popularity of using it for SI/PI simulation is relatively high, but its disadvantage is that its 3D analysis capability is relatively weak compared to the other two tools.

HFSS, commonly known as "Haifeisi", is a 3D electromagnetic simulation analysis tool. Its function is very powerful and extensive. It is only used as part of the PCB field. It is mainly used for modeling and analysis of 3D structure, S parameter extraction optimization design. Such as via, connectors, RC packages, impedance line optimization, and more. In the field of high-speed serial signal design, it is one of the indispensable important tools for local parameter optimization.

ADS (Advanced Design System) is also a powerful simulation analysis tool, which is also widely used in applications such as RF, microwave, communication system analysis, etc. It is often used in the field of PCB design for active simulation of high-speed signals. Quantitative analysis of high-speed signal channels, as well as TDR impedance analysis, insertion loss, return loss analysis and many other applications, is also an essential tool for high-speed design and simulation.

Based on the analysis of the above various design tools, we can find that more important than the tools are the designer's technology, thinking, ideas, and the ability to continue learning. Because any design and development tools are always being updated, we can't take the mastery of a certain tool as the capital of practice, but we must grasp the clear, accurate, efficient and rigorous design technology ideas and ways of thinking. Continuous self-learning improvement is the core requirement for a high-level designer.

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