Xpedition Enterprise Blog

Learn about the industry's most innovative PCB design flow, providing integration from system design definition to manufacturing execution.

We'll keep you updated on the latest design trends, and other interesting tech tidbits in the industry.

17 August, 2015

Recently I was remodeling a bathroom in my home with my younger son Kyle. We were getting ready to paint the bathroom and I took out the masking tape and began instructing my son on the task of masking. Being a teen, and of course knowing everything, he said to me that he did not need to mask and he could just start painting. I then explained that I did not want paint on everything else, and if you are a parent, you know how the rest of the conversation progressed.

The voice of my father popped into my head during the conversation and I told my son something that my father always said to me, “preparation is 75 percent of the job.” My father was a military man, and a stickler on discipline. Not the physical spanking kind, although I did get those on occasion, but the kind of discipline to live your life by.

Our younger generation today tends to lack the discipline of preparation. In a world where almost everything is available instantly at a touch of a button, there is often an expectation of instant gratification.

But, in PCB layout, preparation is a key discipline to the success of your design. Preparation truly is 75 percent of the job! We must setup constraints or rules to guide us from the beginning of the layout to the final release of the design and all the way to fabrication. When this preparation is done correctly, we have the best chance of getting it right the first time.

In my recent article in Printed Circuit Design & Fab , “Using Constraints to Make PCB Layout Easier,” I speak about setting up constraints early in your design cycle to prepare for a successful design.

PCB Layout Preparation

As for that painting project…my son began painting without masking. He got paint everywhere, and spent quite a bit of time cleaning up the mess and re-painting. I had him read my article, and I could tell a light came on in his mind. I expect next time he will prepare properly before starting a task.

Until next time,

Vern

9 July, 2015

This is the thirteenth post in a series showcasing the winners of the 2014 Technology Leadership Awards. View the previous ones here.

Runner up in the Transportation & Automotive category: Visteon, India.

Visteon_Logo

Design: BA Cluster

Design team: Nagarajan Mani

Design challenges:

  • High-density placement of electronic components because of three to four different variants of passenger cars
  • Primary challenges: save cost and meet automotive standards of EMC requirements and manufacturability
  • EMC requirements were successfully achieved within a two layer board; having so many components with this routing density was a remarkable achievement for this design
  • Thermal test passed with both sides populated with heat generating components

Visteon India Award-winning design

Design tools and team comments:

  • Xpedition® Enterprise
  • Constraint Manager used to make customer-specified requirement which was critical from normal practice of design. It was used to make this design possible on a two layer board and it helped a lot in routing the critical signals with GND guards.
  • Valor was used to ensure the design met all the requirements of suppliers and board manufacturing feasibility in first level development. This allowed us to avoid multiple iterations in DFM.

Judges’ comments:

  • An impressive two layer design with dense routing and use of variants.
  • Good job to fit into two layers. Power distribution would have been difficult, and EMC issues difficult to suppress.

About the Technology Leadership Awards

Started in 1988, this program is the longest running competition of its kind in the electronic design automation (EDA) industry. It recognizes engineers and designers who use innovative methods and design tools to address today’s complex PCB systems design challenges and produce industry-leading products. See the full list of 2014 winners here.

22 June, 2015

This is the twelfth post in a series showcasing the winners of the 2014 Technology Leadership Awards. View the previous ones here.

First place winner in the Transportation & Automotive category: Visteon, United States.

Visteon_Logo

Design: automotive heads-up display

Design team: Hai Pham, Padmanaban Kanagaraj, and Krzysztof Russa

Design challenges:

  • BGA connections
  • The connections between 0.80 mm pitch BGA microprocessor 624 pin 25 X 25, two DDR3 96 pin 16 X 16, one Flash 1 mm pitch 64 pin 8 X 8 and the 30 pin double side edge connector proved to be very challenging. The requirements were to place the traces in close proximity in order to minimize trace length. Utilizing Constraint Manager allowed the requirements to be met while complying with all design rules for performance and fabrication.
  • Through-hole vias used for cost; challenging to route to BGA.
  • Mechanical: keepouts for slots, holes, and metal contact with housing
  • Power management: eight power rails to microprocessor; decoupling requirements

Visteon_Award_Winning_Design

Design tools and team comments:

  • Xpedition® Enterprise
  • Constraint Manager: Multiple net classes to manage signal integrity, EMI constraints
  • Hyperlynx PI was used to analyze decoupling capacitance for each group of circuits, such as power and GND plane areas, as well as the proximity of decoupling capacitors to the IC, and the number of vias and capacitors used.
  • Hyperlynx SI was used to measure and analyze circuit delay, cross talk, and impedance.
  • Hyperlynx Thermal was used to analyze component temperature and over PCB temperature to ensure the design met requirements.

Judges’ comments:

  • Excellent example of high-speed, higher-than-average density design using the latest design simulation and tools for new innovative features in autos.
  • This board was designed using standard layout technology. Tight interconnections to meet electrical requirements were compounded by strict mechanical limitations. Good description of what they went through to complete this design.

About the Technology Leadership Awards

Started in 1988, this program is the longest running competition of its kind in the electronic design automation (EDA) industry. It recognizes engineers and designers who use innovative methods and design tools to address today’s complex PCB systems design challenges and produce industry-leading products. See the full list of 2014 winners here.

11 June, 2015

This is the eleventh post in a series showcasing the winners of the 2014 Technology Leadership Awards. View the previous ones here.

Runner up in the Telecom, Network Controllers, Line Cards category: Ericsson Television, United Kingdom.

Ericcson Logo

Design: ViPER2, 2U form factor host controller card that will be the basis of their video encoder and trans-coder products

Design team: Rob Dickinson, Paul White, and John Curtis

Design challenges:

  • HDI stack-up: break out the BGAs and minimize impact of larger through vias on planes under the BGAs
  • Thermal management
  • Concerned about front-to-back cooling across the processor card, as well as with other cards including back plane. Placement was dictated by the thermal profile of the board, with the hottest components placed close to the air exhausts (rather than by the fan, where their heat could cook downwind components), and the rest distributed down its length to reduce thermal density.
  • Historically, thermal analysis was performed by the mechanical engineer once the design was complete. Because of the increase in thermal issues, the hardware engineer is now responsible for all thermal analysis, and it’s done up front, during the placement stage.
  • 5gbps channel signals were routed first, then validated with analysis.
  • 51 power rails fueled by two redundant 1 Kilowatt power supplies.
  • Power management: difficulty getting all the planes under the FPGAs; solved by moving some nets so that additional copper flooding could be added. Decoupling caps were placed on the opposite side of the devices.

Ericsson award-winning design 2014 technology leadership awards

Design tools and team comments:

  • Xpedition® Enterprise
  • HyperLynx Power Integrity was used to analyze the main PDNs and a number of issues were found with plane shapes and via positions that were remedied (the layout designer ran the tool).
  • Time pressure was reduced through concurrent schematic (three engineers) and concurrent layout design (two layout designers).
  • I/O Designer was used to optimize connectivity from two FPGAs to board, enabling ‘what-if’ evaluations that would not have been possible otherwise.

About the Technology Leadership Awards

Started in 1988, this program is the longest running competition of its kind in the electronic design automation (EDA) industry. It recognizes engineers and designers who use innovative methods and design tools to address today’s complex PCB systems design challenges and produce industry-leading products. See the full list of 2014 winners here.

29 May, 2015

This is the tenth post in a series showcasing the winners of the 2014 Technology Leadership Awards. View the previous ones here.

First place winner in the Telecom, Network Controllers, Line Cards category: RAD, Israel.

RAD logo

Design: This board is the main card for 10GbE demarcation point for SLA-based Ethernet business services and mobile backhaul devices.

Design team:

  • Olga Goykhberg, Svetlana Zlotnik, Didier Halimi; Dorit Leizer, and Sharona Manasherov

Design challenges:

  • Considerations of cost savings dictated through hole via technology
  • Considerations of restricted board thickness dictated a maximum number of layers at 14
  • Variants: this board was designed for about 50 different device configurations, which contributed to complexity
  • 10GbE routing:
  • Thermal and mechanical constraints dictated device locations
  • Via minimization; plus no back drilling was allowed for cost reasons
  • Minimum 5mil lines to minimize skin effect
  • Impedance, length matching requirements
  • Localized plane islands were added to avoid critical signals crossing plane gaps
  • Used 0402 decoupling caps within via rows because they needed to be close to the chips and could not be placed on the back side since the design had through via breakouts
  • 95 planes were required within the design

RAD Award-winning design

Design tools and team comments:

  • Xpedition® Enterprise
  • An aggressive schedule and high board required the use of Xpedition® concurrent team design technology.
  • The layout design ran concurrently with the electrical design, signal integrity and power integrity analysis.
  • During the layout flow there were lots of design changes. In spite of all of these changes, Xtreme Technology let us continue with the design progress because changing a particular section of the board does not interrupt the process in the other sections. In that way, the layout of the main board ended one day after the electrical development of the product was completed.

Judge’s comment:

  • “Difficult 10GbE and DDR/QDR routing.”

About the Technology Leadership Awards

Started in 1988, this program is the longest running competition of its kind in the electronic design automation (EDA) industry. It recognizes engineers and designers who use innovative methods and design tools to address today’s complex PCB systems design challenges and produce industry-leading products. See the full list of 2014 winners here.

18 May, 2015

As I look back many years ago when I was growing up as a young boy, my father always stressed to me, “never stop learning, son.” He told me that I will never know it all and there will always be someone who knows more than me, so I should strive to learn something new every day.

For over 50 years now, I have lived my life doing just that. I have found that it is the little things learned each day that become necessary knowledge for my future.

Since I started doing PCB design layout years ago, technology and tools have changed dramatically, and often at a rate much faster than I can keep up with. But, this is the career path I have chosen, and knowledge is a key success factor.

Some may think that because I work for Mentor Graphics now, I know everything there is to know about the design software we sell, but that would be incorrect. I still learn new information and capabilities within the tools every day. Most of the time it is not from internal sources, but from my colleagues working in the trenches…new processes or even just a more effective way to use the design software. I take it all in like a sponge, because I love passing new knowledge onto others.

Although I learn a lot from friends in the field, I do rely on internal information to increase my skills and capabilities when using the design tools. The best way is through training, whether online, in a classroom, or even at a public forum event. I have found that Mentor Graphics training courses are a very effective way to learn the depth of the tools.

With the latest release of the Xpedition® design suite, it has become even more important to get up-to-date training on the newest features in the VX release. Early adopters of this release are already finding efficiency increases using the new capabilities within the tools.

I don’t want anyone to fall behind, as we all know that time-to-market is a key to our design success.

If you have not yet adopted the Xpedition VX release because you need more training, then below are two more methods of becoming familiar with the breadth and depth of the tools. We also have many videos features and training tips online.

To get started today, explore Mentor Graphics training services or sign up for a PCB Forum event in your area.

And from one designer to another, remember, “NEVER STOP LEARNING!”

Albert Einstein quote; Dondy Razon

Photo Credit: Dondy Razon https://flic.kr/ps/28fEFQ

23 April, 2015

This is the ninth post in a series showcasing the winners of the 2014 Technology Leadership Awards. View the previous ones here.

Runner up in the Military & Aerospace category: BAE Systems, United Kingdom.

BAE Systems Logo

Design: Binocular helmet mounted display

The system is a major advance in helmet-mounted heads-up display technology and includes a binocular display, opto-inertia head tracking technology, fast response times, and fully-integrated digital night vision camera.It also meets all weight and size targets and provides improved comfort.

Design team:

  • Matthew Offredi, Gary Chambers, Daniel Smith, Sammy Laver, Ross McCullie, Gary Prior

Design challenges:

  • The helmet was designed concurrently by the electronics, mechanical, optical and system design teams. This concurrent design approach aided in solving issues across the complete system, but this organic environment meant that there were a number of iterations during the design process.
  • Weight / CoG (center of gravity): Helmet designs are subjected to ejections tests and therefore weight/mass and CoG is a critical driver in the design.
  • Power and thermal have to be managed carefully to reduce thermal effects (to avoid cooking a pilots head).
  • Keep-out areas were needed in areas that were subject to head impact, which constrained component skyline and placement.
  • An irregular board outline was needed as the module mounted to a helmet.
  • Design testability, both in production and maintenance, is a key driver in the design.
  • The major challenge with these devices was the breakout and subsequent routing because the pins were 94% utilized.
  • The design team only had a small window of opportunity to take the design from a concept stage into a fully working product. This short project duration was driven by compressed project time scales, but achieved by using great engineering techniques, a motivated and empowered team, and a number of learn first activities.

BAE Systems Award-Winning Design

Design tools and team comments:

  • Board Station, Hyperlynx®, and ICX
  • All SI was completed with ICX so the board worked first time.
  • There are ~400 signals classified as high speed on the design. The signal integrity strategy required that these signals were grouped and simulated as “what if” Hyperlynx and ICX simulations which drove the schematic topology. This included ensuring that suitable return vias were placed close to any signal layer transition points, to guarantee a good signal return path. The post-routed board was fully simulated in ICX and this was repeated, iteratively, as the design progressed, until the optimum solution was found.
  • The breakout vias perforated the plane areas beneath the FPGAs, so the team used the Hyperlynx Power Integrity tool to analyze and determine if sufficient current was being delivered, and if the current density was not excessive in any area. The high power rail count (31) required careful management.

Judge’s comments

  • “Very nice power distribution work. Very dense placement.”
  • “This board overcame many restraints that are not normally found in most boards. Different thermal restrictions and keep out areas on each side of the board, height restrictions, and an odd shaped board, to name a few. In addition, the electrical, testing, and human engineering make this board a challenge. They provided and excellent description of what they had to overcome.

About the Technology Leadership Awards

Started in 1988, this program is the longest running competition of its kind in the electronic design automation (EDA) industry. It recognizes engineers and designers who use innovative methods and design tools to address today’s complex PCB systems design challenges and produce industry-leading products. See the full list of 2014 winners here.

7 April, 2015

This is the seventh post in a series showcasing the winners of the 2014 Technology Leadership Awards. View the previous ones here.

Runner up in the Industrial Control, Instrumentation & Medical category: Valtronic SA, Switzerland

Valtronic Logo

Design: Ultimate 8 channels miniaturized MRI integrated receiver module with lots of channel separation

Design team: Gabriel Gay, Van Ly Mai, Cristian Anton, Bert de Vries

Design challenges:

  • All components had to be non-magnetic or low magnetic.
  • Miniaturization drove use of ~500 passive SMD 01005. All (9) layers are HDI.
  • 5mm BGA (2 components): Careful placement of the decoupling capacitors, and management of analog/digital signal separation.
  • Used flip chip mounting to minimize connections from the chip to the board; placed all on one side for manufacturing reasons, but this required localized shielding.

Design tools and team comments:

  • Xpedition® Enterprise
  • “The 3D viewer was utilized and later in the design .idf export and .dxf import were a must to make iterations to reduce the final size of the package.”
  • “Clusters were used to simplify the placement process. “Copy circuit” is a must to make sure we had similar placement and routing for each of the receiver channels.”
  • “CES was especially useful to control the differential pairs.”
  • “We exported CCZ files to share the layout for design review with our customer. We also used DxPDF to share valuable data for design review and Part Lister to review BOMs.”
  • We utilized smart utilities, dynamic tune, and outline optimizer along with other capabilities.

Valtronic Award Winning PCB Design

Judge’s comments:

  • “This was a well-documented and excellent solution.”
  • “Good EMI/EMC considerations were given.”

About the Technology Leadership Awards

Started in 1988, this program is the longest running competition of its kind in the electronic design automation (EDA) industry. It recognizes engineers and designers who use innovative methods and design tools to address today’s complex PCB systems design challenges and produce industry-leading products. See the full list of 2014 winners here.

31 March, 2015

This is the sixth post in a series showcasing the winners of the 2014 Technology Leadership Awards. View the previous ones here.

First place winner in the Industrial Control, Instrumentation & Medical category: Fujitsu Technology Solutions, Germany

Fujitsu Logo

Design: A biometric multi-factor authentication; a flexible high-security platform solution for access control, payment terminals, and match on device. The system is based on ARM SoC with crypto co-processors.

Design team: Andreas Schaefer, Timo Bruderek, Joachim Bub, Andreas Titz, Willi Neukam, Peter Bräu, Werner Hasubick, Rudi Häußermann, George Emanuel Valceanu

Design challenges:

  • Security certification: We had to protect the PCB physically against access and intrusion (shield sensitive signals on internal layers with a unique via scheme), and manually routed patterns using a 3-2-3 HDI stack-up.
  • Electro-mechanical design: Spent a lot of time synchronizing with MCAD team on the housing construction.
  • Rigid-flex, RF technology.
  • Some high-speed due to DDR3, Ethernet and USB
  • Tight placement: Lots of mechanical components, some with through-mounts that had to avoid parts on the opposite side.
  • ARM CPU: 100% connected, associated passives and test points were placed on reverse side, 7 power rails.
  • Panelization: Concern for SMD components on the edge; the contour on one side didn’t allow standard V-cuts.
  • We took on a new fabrication process that required optimizing the process from design through manufacture.

2014 TLA Award Winning Design - Fujitsu Technology Solutions GmbH

Design tools and team comments:

  • Xpedition Enterprise (New VX.1 Release)
  • “Used 3D integrated layout to ensure that component placement didn’t collide with the display housing. This combination of PCB optimization and mechanical part fittings can be found everywhere and would have been impossible without the 3D layout feature. The new 3D layout placement and online DRC capabilities were used heavily during this design. With the use of simultaneous 2D and 3D placement control, we achieved very good mechanical accuracy for the first prototype. This quality and accuracy has only been seen in the second or later prototype stages for past projects. We saved approximately 12 weeks by eliminating prototype cycles.”
  • “Accurate 3D models were required; rough 3D models and 2D obstructs were insufficient.”
  • “The design was completed in 8 weeks. The team successfully developed the product while they also implemented new design software, created a new library, and transitioned to new board technologies.”

Judge’s comments:

  • “A high-density flex-rigid design showing the best of design density, advanced manufacturing technology, and flex.”
  • “A Complex 3D problem with interesting methods to manage security of circuit.”
  • “Good stack-up on a tight board.”
  • “Very detailed descriptions of the issues they had to overcome to produce a very tight board. I like the way they utilized the various tools to achieve design requirements.”

About the Technology Leadership Awards

Started in 1988, this program is the longest running competition of its kind in the electronic design automation (EDA) industry. It recognizes engineers and designers who use innovative methods and design tools to address today’s complex PCB systems design challenges and produce industry-leading products. See the full list of 2014 winners here.

5 February, 2015

The close of DesignCon features the Best in Design & Test Awards. The awards span a variety of categories from design tools, to test, to validation and fabrication. We joined a few dozen other eager folks in the Chip Head Theater for the presentation of the awards.

Since there was no one available from the Xpedition flow, all eyes fell on me to accept the award, should we win. Now, I’m more of a support person, so either the other guys were bashful or they were throwing me a bone. Whichever, it was appreciated!

DesignCon Award Mentor Graphics Xpedition

I have to be honest and tell you that I think the DesignCon mascot is one of the goofiest I’ve seen, but it’s been going on for years, so maybe that’s just me. The whole idea of a mascot for electronic design and development is a bit odd anyway.

When the category of Board and System Design & Simulation appeared on the screen, it was clear that Mentor Graphics would win. Sure enough I felt a couple of friendly pushes and headed forward, where I got to shake hands with…yep, Chip Head. I had a great time accepting the award on behalf of the folks who actually did the work, and I’ll always treasure the photo of Chip Head and I.

Xpedition Enterprise wins a 2015 DesignCon Best in Design & Test Award

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