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Take control

Striking the right balance of design automation. By Rob Irwin.

Whoever said having the idea is the hardest part almost certainly never had to lay out a 32bit processor board by hand using tape and tracing paper. It's no accident that pcb design was one of the first electronics design tasks to benefit from computer technology. Today, board level EDA is a mature industry, however it must tread a fine line between assisting the designer to get a task done more quickly and efficiently, and hindering the desired outcome by assuming too much control.

Most pcb designers today take the inclusion of an autorouter as given but they are rarely – if ever – used to route an entire board, critical areas such as power nets, sensitive analogue and RF traces, and high speed signals will still be routed by hand.

Routing is an ideal candidate for automation because it is an iterative process. When large numbers of nets are involved, the time taken to iterate through each connection and find a suitable path can be considerable, so the benefits of automation in this area can be great.

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Author
Graham Pitcher

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