"FPGA readiness" is key to PCB design software

An Altium product story
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Edited by the Electronicstalk editorial team Aug 4, 2004

Altium is supporting Mentor Graphics' push to solve the emerging FPGA-to-board problems facing designers using high-capacity programmable logic.

Altium is supporting Mentor Graphics' push to solve the emerging FPGA-to-board problems facing designers using high-capacity programmable logic.

"While FPGAs offer extremely compelling benefits, the potential of the latest generation of high-performance, low-cost FPGAs is yet to be fully unlocked", said Nick Martin, Founder and Joint CEO, Altium.

"The tradeoffs and challenges faced when integrating PCB-FPGA flows within existing design tools is perhaps the most significant factor inhibiting their use".

"I am pleased that another major EDA vendor such as Mentor is recognising the importance of concurrent PCB-FPGA design and is now beginning to address the challenge".

To date Altium has invested close to US $100 million in re-engineering its unique DXP technology integration platform to support concurrent PCB-FPGA design flows.

This platform, which underpins the company's Protel 2004 and soon-to-be-released P-CAD 2004 board design systems, provides seamless bidirectional pin synchronisation between PCB and FPGA projects, and allows FPGA design information to be automatically flowed through to the board-level for the purposes of routing optimisation and signal integrity analysis.

"We believe that it is now essential that all PCB design tools be 'FPGA-ready'; they must enable engineers and designers to exploit the potential of this new, reconfigurable technology", said Martin.

"Any board design tool that is not 'FPGA-ready' will simply not be a viable investment for companies that wish to remain competitive".

As well as offering its customers entry into large-scale FPGA design using familiar board-level design methodologies, Altium's DXP-based solutions provide a number of key features to facilitate the integration of PCB and FPGA projects including: design capture that supports design entry for FPGAs in either VHDL, schematic, or a mix of both; fully integrated support for FPGAs throughout the entire design process; bidirectional synchronisation of pin information between the FPGA and PCB projects; automatic generation of PCB schematic symbol from FPGA design; automatic optimisation of FPGA pinout for board routing; and automatic propagation of FPGA pin definition information to board signal integrity analysis.

"As FPGA devices become larger and cheaper, implementing complex FPGA designs onto PCBs is emerging as one of the major barriers to fully exploiting the benefits of programmable hardware", said Martin.

"Designers are looking to their tool providers for solutions to this problem".

"Mentor and Altium are independently responding to this challenge, and the results will benefit the entire electronics industry".

Released in February this year, Protel 2004 is available for sale and is priced at Eur 7995.

P-CAD 2004 is currently in beta testing, and is currently scheduled for full release later this year.

P-CAD 2002 customers who are on a valid prepaid upgrade subscription plan at the time of P-CAD 2004's release will automatically be shipped the new version free of charge as part of their support contract.

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