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.

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

3 February, 2015

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

Runner up for the Consumer Electronics & Handheld category: Wizlogix, Singapore

Wizlogix logo

Design: Modem and application processor

Design team: Vivian Ong Ai Lian, Tan Shean Huey, Romeo Pineda

Design challenges:

  • Traces/spaces at 2.36th with constraint areas under multiple FPGAs
  • High via density
  • Primary component was a 644-pin ASIC with .4mm pitch. HDI was necessary to maximize routing efficiency
  • High-speed constraints with impedance controlled, length matched differential pairs, with perpendicular biasing on adjacent layers
  • Common planes for all signals in the same bank are required; creating plane areas that are large enough to provide power to different critical banks under the main chip that is already filled with microvias without breaking into different fragments was a challenge

Wizlogix award-winning design for a modem and application processor

Design tools and team comments:

  • Xpedition® Enterprise
    • “We used automation with multi via rules to help us punch multiple vias at regular intervals and spacing.”
    • “We used the tuning tool to our advantage as well. It would have taken us a longer time to do the length matching if we had to estimate the lengths of each trace. The tuning tool within Xpedition gives us the actual length that we need and saves us time during checking.”

Judge’s comments

  • “The 644 pin BGA at 0.4 mm pitch provides a challenge to route this design in 12 layers.”

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.

28 January, 2015

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

First place winner in the Consumer Electronics & Handheld category: Qualcomm, United States

Qualcomm Technologies Logo

Design: a Quad-core APQ (application processor Qualcomm) targeting the tablet/netbook market segments

Design team: Larry Paul, Sanat Kapoor, Stephen Baker, Danlin Xiang, Michael Tex

Design challenges:

  • Quad-core Krait, A320 3DGfx, Dual Channel PCDDR3/3L + LPDDR2 PoP option, integrated GPS SS w/Gen8A-Lite Nav core, 1080p HDMI Video, Media Processor, SATA Gen1, and PCIe 2.0
  • To maintain cost constraints, a through-hole 8-Layer stackup with no HDI layers needed to be used
  • Trace width dimensions of under 3th
  • Multidiscipline collaboration was utilized:
  • PCB Layout, Package & APQ were designed together with a co-design process and collaborated across the PCB, package and IC design teams
  • The power and signal integrity group helped with simulations and design feedback; multiple rounds of power simulations and memory simulations were needed to optimize the package and PCB routing
  • Design for reuse – the second memory circuit was designed to be copied and replicated; memory circuit can be single or dual ranked to support four memory banks
  • Eight DDR comps mounted four on each side; sharing thru via fanouts
  • 97 percent of the design was high-speed nets, with close to 9,000 connections

Qualcomm Technologies Technology Leadership Awards Winning Design

Design tools and team comments:

  • Xpedition® Enterprise and Package Integrator
  • Package Integrator is used at Qualcomm to help optimize pin definition on the APQ.
  • “Mentor’s Package Integrator tool allowed us to manage multiple rounds of signal assignment evaluation across teams without loss of data. The design was initially worked out in a co-design study through PCB Layout. Near completion the circuit placement and routing was copied to a customer reference design to re-use and quickly route 80% of the traces. This allowed us to build a product quickly and fabricate a working design with no design spins.”

Judge’s comments:

  • The intense activity around the RAM is very impressive.
  • Good team effort across multiple disciplines. This is a tight design considering that is utilizes standard technology instead of HDI.

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.

26 January, 2015

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

Runner up in the Computers, Blade & Servers, and Memory Systems category: Sanmina, India.

Sanmina Corporation Logo

Design: a DDR3 240 pin RDIMM

Design team:

  • Damodhar Chakravarthy Mallisetty, Tom Thomas, and Birla Manoharan

Design challenges:

  • DDR3 240pin UVLP RDIMM 1333MT/S ECC 17.75mm 2R x4 10 layer Viking Stacked BGA
  • Using fly by topology and length matching within the time limit was a big challenge
  • Embedded resistors were used in layer three and no vias could be placed around the embedded resistors
  • No traces were allowed over the slot in this design
  • Placing components within the tight clearances was a great challenge

Sanmina Corporation Winning Design 2014 Technology Leadership Awards

Design tools and team comments:

  • Xpedition® Enterprise allowed for via keepouts for embedded resistors and fast routing
  • HyperLynx® was used to verify the signal integrity for the tuned address signals and keep them within the limits

Judge’s comments

  • Long thin boards can present serious design challenges and this design makes very good use of board real estate.

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.

19 January, 2015

Shortly after I graduated with my Associates degree in technical drafting, I entered the world of computer aided design. I trained in CAD technology on one of the very first computer design systems – CEADS CAD, and we young bucks could not wait to jump right into drawing designs on the computer screen.

Our teacher, a tall Texan with a big stern voice, told us that we might come across many CAD systems but that no matter what they could accomplish, they could not accomplish it without a quality library. These libraries would be the building blocks of our designs.

Since my CAD training stressed the importance of a good library to achieve quality designs, I have always trained the designers that report to me on the importance of a correct-by-construction PCB component library. Over the years, I have built thousands of the components used in designs, and trained many a librarian in the processes that make up a quality library.

Xpedition Starter Libraries

Just before I came to Mentor Graphics, I was given the task to create a component library and information database that would be used by over 400 design engineers in my company. It was a huge undertaking including over one hundred thousand records of component information that would be used to design and fabricate the designs of tomorrow.

First and foremost, the library had to be flawless in quality as to not create board errors, or errors in fabrication – the library currently in use was perilous to use. The new library had to be hands-off for the engineers. In other words, they needed to be able to request parts and walk away expecting to get exactly what they needed, correct the first time. Yes, a very daunting task!

So, with the help of my one librarian, and some old friends at Optimum Design Associates, we took on the task. Although it took over a year to complete the library (you see we were using it while we were building it), we completed it with fantastic results.

I am proud to say that to this day no Xpedition design using the library has ever failed due to a bad library component. This was always my goal as a designer.

We could not have done it without the library team, and my buddies at ODA, specifically Justin Parise. Their attention to library details and the knowledge of the needs of the PCB Design engineers is second to none. A quality library was what they promised, and it is what I received.

And NOW, with the release of Xpedition VX.1, you can have these same results.

With the latest release, users can download a FREE complete starter library created by my friends at Optimum Design Associates. You will get the same quality components that I received when working with them. Of course, you will not get hundreds of thousands of components, but you will get a great baseline library and component information database so your design team can hit the ground running.

Optimum Design Associates Logo

Download your very own building blocks to PCB design today!

Not an Xpedition user? PADS® users may download starter libraries here.

12 January, 2015

This is the second post in a series showcasing the winners of the 2014 Technology Leadership Awards. View the first here.

First place winner in the Computers, Blade & Servers, and Memory Systems category: Seagate Technology, United States.

Technology Leadership Awards_Seagate

Design: The team used all of the “tricks in the book” to achieve placement and routing within the speed/timing parameters on their mid-range enterprise solid-state drive.

Design team:

  • Andre’ Dutko, Keith MacLean

Design challenges:

  • This was a heavily constrained design with a high percentage of high-speed nets; over 64,000 constraints in the design and lots of restrictions due to PCIE, DDR3 and Flash. Tight length matching to balance byte lanes; isolation of multi-GHz signals; layer count and thickness restrictions.
  • Adjacent layer coupling and reference plane impact on SI required extensive collaboration between layout designer and project engineer.
  • Power distribution for 37 voltages with current ranging from 0.5 – 5.0 amps.
  • Buried vias were avoided as a cost consideration.

2014 Technology Leadership Award Winner Seagate_Design

Design tools and team comments:

  • Xpedition® Enterprise flow and Hyperlynx®
  • The 556 pin BGA/SOC was the most complex component. Beyond the multiple power supplies required, it is driving two DDR3 chips and 16 (back-to-back) NANDs. All of which had separate byte lanes containing unique Data, Command and Control and/or Address.
  • High volume manufacturing requirements with multiple variants also added to cost considerations.

Judges’ comments:

  • This design has very high lead density due to innovative side-side placement and routing of the memory.
  • This is a tight design considering that is utilizes standard technology instead of HDI. I like the way they utilized the various tools within the flow 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.

9 January, 2015

As you may already know, the Xpedition VX.1 release is now available to customers. I encourage you to take some time to evaluate it because if there is one thing to mention about this release, it is that you will be able to increase your productivity significantly. It can be downloaded at SupportNet.

We have added some new interactive routing styles that complement the existing ones quite well. The differences between these styles are found in the amount of automation applied to the action, and the type of user control. Looking at Editor Control/Plow, the methods are listed:

PCB Routing Solutions Editor Control Plow methods

You can set a style for routing with the Mouse Up (clicking when needed) and for the Mouse Down (dragging as you route). I recommend trying the default style using Real Trace for a couple weeks to really get a good feel for its value.

Real Trace Plow

This is the new functionality. Real Trace is what can be called a “One-Click” interactive router. All you need to do once you are in Plow mode is to click on a route object and start routing. The trace is added as you move your cursor – no need to click again. It even finishes the route automatically when it gets close to the end of the netline. Watch this video to see in detail.

Delayed Option – This option allows you to delay the application of push & shove until the trace being added is in an open space. Why? We have found that by waiting to apply the push & shove, the quality of the traces being pushed is much better because we consider a longer length of trace and smooth it and those little unnecessary jogs are eliminated.

Dynamic Option – With this style, push & shove is applied dynamically as the trace is being added. You might be thinking, after I described the value of the Delayed option – why would we come back and enable you to have the push & shove done dynamically? Sometimes it is desirable to immediately see how a trace will fit through a tight area. The good news is that all you have to do is hold down the left mouse button and push & shove will be applied as long as you are dragging. Rumors that the push & shove is more effective if you press harder on the mouse button are not true; however, I do understand that sometimes this method may be useful to release some pent-up emotions during stressful days.

The Hockey Stick style works as it has in previous releases; however, the Local Gloss has been improved significantly to provide higher quality routing. For those who want to click-click-click-click to create every segment, the Segment style for ultimate control is still available.

Other New Items

Active Clearances – This feature dynamically displays a shadow around objects that shows you the design rule clearances to the trace being plowed. This is especially useful when Plow fails and it is not easy to understand why.

PCB Routing Active Clearances 1PCB Routing Active Clearances 2

Fixed & Locked Patterns – You can now set your own patterns for fixed and locked objects in the Display Control / Graphic tab.

PCB Routing Fixed and Locked Patterns

Route Object Appearance – Another feature that may be useful is the ability to set a specific pattern on general Traces, Pads and Plane Data. This is also on the Display Control / Graphic tab.

PCB Routing Route Object Appearance


As time goes on, we continue to make both big and small enhancements to our design tools. Many of the enhancements are driven by customer requests and we often go out-of-the-box with things like the Sketch Router.

What do you think would be a good improvement in our interactive routing tools? Maybe it has already been done in the Xpedition VX.1 Layout product and all I need to do is show you where it is.

7 January, 2015

This is the first in a series showcasing the winners of the 2014 Technology Leadership Awards.

The votes are in for the 2014 TLAs! Congratulations to the 2014 Technology Leadership Award winners! Started in 1988, this program is the longest running competition of its kind in the electronic design automation (EDA) industry. The competition 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.

Overall 2014 Winner: Alcatel-Lucent, Italy

Alcaltel-Lucent Logo

Design:  An evolution in core packet processing technology, Alcatel-Lucent’s 1X100GE packet module includes 100Gb/s of total processing power and signals operating at 6/12/28GHz.

Design team: Fabrizio Crippa, Giovanni Villa, Sergio Pirovano, Massimo Pollastri, Stefano Cornini, Luigi Aldeghi, Fabio Villa, Paolo Scotti, Massimiliano Severi, Ivan Malaspina, Fabio Frigerio, and Donato Maggi

Design challenges:

  • Design for: signal/power integrity, reliability, manufacturability, cost, and variants
  • 6,000+ components, 22,000+ connections, 20,000+ vias, 24 layers
  • 70% nets high-speed: used Constraint Manager for more than 200 buses with length controls on ~5,000 nets and more than 10,000 connections; all routed by hand and verified
  • Cost constraints for high-volume product drove the overall design process and influenced many of the decisions; limited use of HDI due to cost constraints resulted in greater placement and routing effort
  • Placement restrictions: height constraints based on racking system forced all tall comps to one side; couldn’t be over internal high-frequency signals; also had to consider DFM issues associated with rework and testing (100% test point coverage)
  • Multi-discipline concurrent design: the board design involved several disciplines including signal and power integrity, mechanical, thermal, layout, and DFM/DFT. To achieve the aggressive schedule, each of these components was implemented in parallel with the design team sharing data at appropriate stages. The design team used the flexibility of their Xpedition® tool chain to collaborate in real time during schematic entry, layout, and manufacturing validation.
  • “But the biggest challenge was to make sure that this project works the first time, and this has been met!”

2014 TLA Overall Winner Alcatel-Lucent's Design

Design tools:

  • Xpedition Enterprise flow
  • Many power supplies with currents higher than 30Amps and tight drop voltage tolerances required detailed study and simulation with HyperLynx® PI. Power integrity analysis performed by HyperLynx in early and final design stage allowed PI expert to verify if the two distinct facets of PCB power integrity (DC and AC) respect the design specification, suggesting updates where needed as part of the cost reduction strategy.
  • Thermal analysis used to determine the exact size of heat sinks to ensure operation within the required temperature range. FloTHERM was used to simulate the thermal profile of each sensitive component, at PCB and complete systems level, especially during the preliminary phase of the design process to keep each device in the operating temperature range improving the PCB′s thermal reliability with the goal to reduce possible PCB re-spins due to thermal issues.
  • Signal integrity (HyperLynx SI) was used in the first stage of the project to characterize the critical HF signals. Each significant frequency type was simulated and recorded. When multiple drivers could be selected for a specific device, the full range of driver to receiver simulations were performed so that the overall design performance could be determined. These results were used to define the constraints for the board but the long term goal is to provide a database of response characteristics so that they can be used by engineers on future design work.
  • Xtreme design technology was utilized so that more PCB designers could work at the same time on the single database without work divisions or merge operations, keeping the constraints intact.
  • DFM verification by Valor NPI during the design process made it possible quickly send feedback to the PCB designer for updates or improvements before releasing the final database. This helped improve manufacturability and product quality.

Comments from the Judges:

  • “One serious board design!”
  • “They did a great job at describing the issues they face in the design. This is a high volume board that had to not only resolve the high level of signal speeds, current, and high pin count BGA’s, but address field repair and total cost reduction the first time out.“

16 December, 2014

Typically my blogs speak of PCB layout technology and the company I work for, but this one is a bit different.

During this season of reflection and celebration, I’d like to take some time to honor the special friends that have passed during the year. We place these friends and our fondest thoughts “into memory,” in hopes to keep their legacies alive. I’d also like to recognize another great PCB designer who is retiring.

As some of us near, or have reached the age where we think of new things to do with our time, it’s nice to look back on this industry which has provided financial well-being, some very good memories, and many opportunities to work with fantastic, like-minded individuals.

In Memory Of

Dieter BergmanThis year we lost a pillar in our industry – Dieter Bergman (82). His career spanned 56 years and he has been hailed as a “true pioneer in the industry,” as well as “the heart and soul of the IPC Designers Council.” I met him once during my career, at the PCB West Conference, and I was able to witness first-hand the many “Dieterisms” he became so famous for.

Dieter became the driving force for technical standards through the IPC Designers Council, and produced many workshops on PCB design and fabrication. Dieter is survived by his wife, two sons, and a daughter. He will be greatly missed.

Art Morimitsu

On a more personal note to me, I recently heard that Art Morimitsu passed away. Art was a PCB designer at Pal Pilot in Irvine, California. He was a great PCB designer and friend, and I first met Art in my PCB design class in technical school. He was also my college roommate. Art was the first Japanese Cowboy I ever met, as he hailed from Boulder, Colorado.

A soft-spoken gentleman that never complained, he became one of the many PCB design friends I have made in this industry. We lost him too soon and he will be missed. Here is a great shot of Art doing what he loved most when he was not designing printed circuit boards.

Retirement Best Wishes

On a happier note, we are losing another great PCB designer from our ranks after 46 years of dedicated service. Larry Baggs, shown here second from the right, has been around a long time and has been a friend and colleague to many. He has decided to hang up his PCB design hat and spend his days travelling and enjoying life. I have had the pleasure to work with Larry and his dedication to PCB design and library creation has benefited several companies throughout his career. Please join me in wishing Larry a great retirement!

Larry Baggs and Group

These are only a few, and I am sure there are more that many of you would like to recognize. Please do so in the comments section, as I would love to hear the memories and stories that make our jobs so much fun – yes, I said fun!

There is also a link listing some of the colleagues we lost in the past year at the Printed Circuit Design and Fab website.

Happy Holidays, and my wishes for a very Happy New Year.

4 December, 2014

As I sit here still recovering from the Thanksgiving feast of turkey and all of the trimmings, I am reminded that this is the time of year we give thanks and gifts to our friends and loved ones. Christmas is just around the corner, and the holiday season is in full swing.

Speaking of giving thanks…I’d like to thank you for following along with me here on the blog! I also have an exciting announcement - the new Xpedition® VX.1 release is here!

Xpedition Enterprise

This release was created with thoughtful consideration of the challenges faced by our users. Over the past six years, thousands of engineering man hours have gone into creating a release packed full of innovation and new capabilities that benefit current users and new users alike. This is the most significant release in Mentor’s history.

We developed Xpedition VX.1 to address the challenges of companies like yours: modern enterprise development organizations that are coping with increasing design complexity as they expand into multi-board systems and manufacturing prep with integrated new product introduction.

Built on a hub-and-spoke architecture, Xpedition VX.1 enables unprecedented collaboration throughout the development ecosystem for multiple-discipline engineers and supply-chain partners, while maintaining design data integrity.

Packed full of new features including an intelligent user interface, group planning and placement, sketch routing technology, and integrated 3D PCB layout, this new version has been a hit with beta testers worldwide.

Now that it is available to everyone, we are looking forward to hearing what you think of it!

To find out more about this exciting new release, take a look at the Xpedition Webinar series. Downloads of Xpedition VX.1 (32 bit and 64 bit versions) are available now at http://supportnet.mentor.com/.

From myself and everyone at Mentor – we wish you a very safe and happy holidays, and a very happy New Year!

Try HyperLynx Free

Get immediate, hands-on access to a variety of HyperLynx features. Built-in data files and tutorials will help you become familiar with the HyperLynx environment and experience the power of the HyperLynx tools.

Get Started Now

@mentorpcb tweets

Follow mentorpcb