Mentor Graphics just announced three new PADS family products for PCB design that, according to the company, start at unprecedented pricing for the independent hardware engineer, delivering affordable dynamic technology solutions to effectively manage today’s complex systems designs.
Wong: There are a lot of PCB design tools out there—how would you categorize the landscape?
Wiens: You can break it down into three areas, largely dependent on the organizational and design complexity being addressed:
1) Enterprise engineering. Most teams within an enterprise are large, distributed (nationally or globally) and specialized. This organizational structure requires tools that facilitate team collaboration, such as IP management (data, process) and process concurrency. Design complexity is also typically high, requiring deep technology for the team specialists to design, validate, and manufacture their product. Tool-selection/purchase decisions are typically made by centralized CAD management and corporate purchasing teams. Tools in this space include Mentor Graphics’ Xpedition Enterprise, Cadence’s Allegro, and Zuken’s CR-5000/8000.
2) Independent engineering. An independent engineer can reside in a small organization (single-person shop or small workgroup/team creating production designs), or someone in an enterprise who is operating independently of the larger organization (e.g., prototype/concept validation, reference designs, device test, manufacturability assessments). These engineers do the majority of design work themselves, so they must leverage a variety of tools—you could categorize them as design specialists, but tool generalists. They don’t have the same organizational requirements as enterprise teams. Their IP management needs are simpler, and their tool purchase decisions are made at the individual or department level. Product complexity can be as high as those at the enterprise level. Tools in this space include Mentor Graphics’ PADS, Altium Designer, Cadence’s OrCAD, and Zuken’s CADstar.