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Altium Designer

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Altium Designer
File:Altium Designer Logo.png
Initial release2005; 15 years ago (2005)
Stable release / August 23, 2018; 17 months ago (2018-08-23)
Written inC#
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Operating systemMicrosoft Windows
TypeElectronic design automation

Altium Designer is a PCB and electronic design automation software package for printed circuit boards. It is developed by Australian software company Altium Limited.

History[edit | edit source]

In 1985, Protel Systems Pty Ltd launched the DOS-based PCB design tool known as Protel PCB (which later emerged into Autotrax and Easytrax). Originally it was sold only in Australia.[1][2] Protel PCB was marketed internationally by HST Technology Pty Ltd. since 1986.[2] In October 1986 the San Diego-based ACCEL Technologies, Inc. acquired marketing and support responsibilities of the PCB program for the USA, Canada and Mexico under the name Tango PCB.[2] In 1987, Protel launched the circuit diagram editor Protel Schematic for DOS.

In 1991, Protel released Advanced Schematic and Advanced PCB 1.0 for Windows (1991-1993), followed by Advanced Schematic/PCB 2.x (1993-1995) and 3.x (1995-1998). In 1998, Protel 98 consolidated all components, including Advanced Schematic and Advanced PCB, into a single environment. Protel 99 in 1999 introduced the first integrated 3D visualization of the PCB assembly. It was followed by Protel 99 SE in 2000.

Protel DXP was issued in 2003, Protel 2004 in 2004, Altium Designer 6.0 in 2005.

Altium Designer version 6.8 from 2007 was the first to offer 3D visualization and clearance checking of PCBs directly within the PCB editor.

In April 2011, Altium moved from Australia to Shanghai in China.[3]

Features[edit | edit source]

Altium Designer's suite encompasses four main functional areas: schematic capture,[4] 3D PCB design,[5] Field-programmable gate array (FPGA) development[6] and release/data management.[7]

Schematic capture[edit | edit source]

Schematic capture module provides electronics circuit editing functionality, including:

  • Component library management
  • Schematic document editing (component placement, connectivity editing and design rules definition)
  • Integration with several component distributors allows search for components and access to manufacturer's data[8][9]
  • SPICE mixed-signal circuit simulation
  • Pre-layout signal integrity analysis
  • Netlist export
  • Reporting and BoM facilities
  • Multi-channel, hierarchical schematics and design re-use

3D PCB design[edit | edit source]

Printed circuit board design module of Altium designer allows:

  • xSignal Wizard: allows the designer to cluster multiple nets into a single signal
  • Support for Flex and Rigid-Flex Design
  • Custom Coverlay Support
  • Live Drill Drawing
  • Add Hole Tolerance
  • PDF 3D Export
  • Dynamic Display of Clearance Boundaries During Routing
  • Enhanced Layer Stack Management
  • Support for Embedded Components
  • Differential Pair Routing Improvements
  • Via Stitching within a User-Defined Area
  • Ibis Model Implementation Editor
  • Pin-Package Delay Support
  • Import wizard to import from Orcad Mentor and other software in to Altium
  • Component footprint library management
  • Smart Component placement
  • Manual trace routing, with support for differential pairs, multi-trace routing, pin-swapping and gate-swapping
  • Automatic trace routing
  • Automated multi-channel layout and routing
  • 3D STEP Model Generation in IPC Wizard
  • Interactive 3D editing of the board and MCAD export to STEP[10]
  • Signal integrity analysis
  • Manufacturing files generation with support for Gerber and ODB++ formats

FPGA and embedded software tools[edit | edit source]

The software assists in the configuration of the Field-programmable gate array (FPGA) components used in a design.[citation needed] Simulation and debugging of the FPGA can be achieved using the VHDL language and checking that for a given a set of input signals the expected output signals would be generated.[11]. Furthermore FPGA soft processor software development tools (compiler, debugger, profiler) are available for selected embedded processors within an FPGA.[12] Functions are available to verify FPGA, PCB and signal Integrity design synchronization.[citation needed]

Release/data management[edit | edit source]

Release and data management tools within Altium designer allow users to:

  • Version control each design, and compare differences textually and visually[13]
  • Batch-process output generation and output formatting (i.e. Gerber files, Pick and Place, PDF schematic and PCB documentation etc.)
  • Create templates for documents and design rules
  • Use configuration management and track all design changes through ECO
  • Create and release design and assembly variants
  • Cloud publishing of design and manufacturing data[14]

Reception and criticisms[edit | edit source]

Altium Designer is generally found to be more costly than other PCB design software but is noted for its ability to achieve fast results for complex circuits.[15]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. "Nick Martin .: SemiEngineering.com". semiengineering.com. Retrieved 2017-12-06.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 TangoPCB. Tango-PCB 3.12. ACCEL Technologies, Inc. 1987-12-01 [1986]. […] CREDITS […] Program Design: Nick Martin […] Reference Manual: Tom Lupfer […] Production: Cathy Vermillion, Walt Foley […] Product Management: Tom Lupfer, Ray Schnorr […] Derivative Manual Copyright (c) 1986 ACCEL Techologies Inc. […] Original Manual Copyright (c) 1986 HST Technology Pty Ltd […] Software Copyright (c) 1985, 1986 Protel Systems Pty Ltd […] The History of Tango-PCB […] Tango-PCB is a personal computer-based software CAD package for designing Printed Circuit Boards. It was originally written in 1985 by Nick Martin, of Australia, and sold under the name of PROTEL-PCB. HST Technology Pty Ltd maintains sole-worldwide marketing rights for PROTEL-PCB. In 1986, ACCEL Technologies, Inc., of San Diego, California, acquired marketing and support responsibilities for the product in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. […] Working together, engineers from ACCEL, HST and Protel Systems have implemented numerous enhancements to the original product. The Reference Manual was re-written for the American market. ACCEL markets the product under the name Tango-PCB. Tango and Tango-PCB are trademarks of ACCEL Technologies, Inc. PROTEL is a trademark of Protel Systems Pty Ltd. […] ACCEL Technologies, Inc. […] 7358 Trade Street […] San Diego, California 92121 […] (619) 695-2000 […]
  3. Francoise, Anne (2011-04-06). "Altium to transfer HQ from Sydney to Shanghai". EE Times. Retrieved 2017-12-18.
  4. "The Ultimate PCB Design Software Comparison | SFCircuits". www.sfcircuits.com. Retrieved 2017-12-21.
  5. Moretto, Gabe (2007-11-26). "Altium releases 3D PCB visualization".
  6. Holland, Colin (2010-05-25). "Aldec FPGA simulation added to Altium Designer". EE Times.
  7. "Altium announces new publishing and version control capabilities". EE Times. Retrieved 2010-12-21.
  8. "CAD links to disty databases gain momentum". EE Times. Retrieved 2010-09-08.
  9. "Altium releases 3D PCB visualization". EE Times. Retrieved 2010-09-06.
  10. "Aldec FPGA simulation added to Altium Designer". EE Times. Retrieved 2010-09-06.
  11. "Altium announces support for Xilinx MicroBlaze processor". FPGA World. Archived from the original on 2010-08-13. Retrieved 2010-09-06.
  12. "Altium announces new publishing and version control capabilities". EE Times. Retrieved 2010-12-21.
  13. "Head in the clouds". FPGA Journal. Archived from the original on 2010-12-27. Retrieved 2010-12-21.
  14. Kansagara, Ravi (2018-01-10). "How to Choose The Best PCB Design Software". CircuitDesign. Altium. Archived from the original on 2018-11-16. Retrieved 2018-11-16.

Sources[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]

Others articles of the Topic Electronics : KLayout, Pcb-rnd, Hitec, Personal computer, DipTrace
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