Altium has well-known electronic computer-aided design (ECAD) tools to handle PCB design. The challenge with system designs is that mechanical CAD (MCAD) tools are needed to handle the other aspects of the solution. Typically, developers using these two tools will work together by exchanging emails, files, change notes, and headaches. Using an integrated system could greatly simplify the process if it provides bidirectional communication so that changes can move through the system.
Altium PCBWorks(Fig. 1)provides this type of tight, bidirectional integration with Dassault Systemes SolidWorks, a major MCAD solution(see “Today’s Intricate PCB Design Needs Evolved Tools” on ). Altium’s PCBWorks is based on Altium Designer, a PCB design tool that handles 3D board design. It can handle the latest differential layouts for high-speed serial interfaces(Fig. 2). This includes interfaces like PCI Express, Serial ATA, and USB 3. PCBWorks can also handle some 3D design chores like highlighting 3D clearance errors. These are typical features for high-end PCB layout programs.