In a move which it claims will redefine the market for PCB Design software, Mentor Graphics has introduced three new packages to its PADS product line.

Jamie Metcalfe, market development manager, said the market had historically been seen as a pyramid. "We want to address the market from a company size point of view. While larger companies typically use Enterprise solutions, smaller companies still have a need for these products, but don't always have the budget. We're addressing a segment of the market that's been left behind."

Mentor says the new market is typified by what it calls 'independent engineers'. "These are inviduals or small workgroups who operate locally," Metcalfe explained. "And they tend to be generalists, rather than specialists, so are involved in many aspects of PCB design."

Looking to meet the needs of independent engineers, Mentor has launched PADS Standard, PADS Standard Plus and PADS Professional. The packages cost $5000, $10,000 and $18,000 respectively and each comes with support for one year.

PADS Standard offers schematic and PCB layout with a starter parts library, a part creation wizard and archive management. Standard Plus adds advanced constraint management, HyperLynx powered signal, thermal and analogue simulation, and variants design. Professional, meanwhile, brings what Metcalfe called 'Xpedition level features' such as sketch routing, simultaneous 2D/3D layout and hierarchical placement planning.

Users of all three packages can access more than 360,000 parts via the PartQuest website that merges Digi-Key part numbers with symbols and footprints.