Board-level design system gains 150+ new features

An Altium product story
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Edited by the Electronicstalk editorial team Dec 17, 2004

Altium has released Service Pack 2 (SP2) for its complete board-level design system, Protel 2004.

Altium has released Service Pack 2 (SP2) for its complete board-level design system, Protel 2004.

SP2 represents the most substantial upgrade to the Protel system since its debut on Altium's DXP technology integration platform, and is available as a free download to all existing Protel DXP and Protel 2004 customers.

SP2 includes more than 150 new features and enhancements, as well as over 100 updates that will enable designers using Protel to create more complex designs faster than ever before.

A new storage manager forms the hub of enhanced design management and version control.

The storage manager offers complete project-level file control and provides an easy-to-use local document history management system to compare and retrieve older versions of documents.

Enhanced comparison capabilities go beyond detecting electrical differences with a new graphical comparator engine that makes it easy to locate and highlight physical changes between revisions of schematic and PCB files.

Protel's powerful query-based object filtering and editing features have been significantly upgraded in SP2 to improve ease of use and streamline global editing of design objects.

Designers can now select a group of components and easily descend into its common parameters to globally edit attributes of the parameters.

Additionally, designers can add parameters to a component directly from the Inspector panel.

Enhancements to the PCB editor include faster net analysis, support for solid polygon pours output as Gerber polygon primitives, multiple copy and paste operations using the DXP clipboard and support for copying from a PCB document to the Windows clipboard in WMF format.

SP2 also introduces support for PCB panelisation within the PCB editor using a new Embedded Board Array feature.

This feature, allows designers to create a panel containing multiple copies of a single board or arrays of different boards, which simplifies the process of preparing boards for fabrication.

In the design capture area, SP2 supports manually defining component and net classes at the schematic level, as well as enhanced control over automatic class generation.

There are a host of graphical user interface (GUI) upgrades, including: context-sensitive right-click menus in the schematic editor; enhanced sheet entry and sheet symbol editing; improved support for heterogeneous component annotation; the ability to paste text and graphics directly into the schematic editor; and graphical compile masks which allow designers to effectively 'comment out' portions of the schematic during compilation and error checking.

Protel 2004 is the industry's only board-level design system that fully supports the design and integration of FPGA devices right through to PCB implementation.

SP2 strengthens Protel's FPGA capabilities with the introduction of support for Verilog coding and source files, allowing Protel designers to mix schematic-based design with both VHDL and Verilog code to capture FPGA designs.

Compiling HDL source files has been improved with intelligent handling of HDL hierarchy, so that the system automatically determines the order and hierarchy of HDL files and compiling is reflected in the project panel.

"Service Pack 2 represents one of the most significant upgrades ever made to Protel", said Rob Irwin, Product Manager for DXP Technologies at Altium.

"In terms of refinement, maturity and design capabilities, SP2 elevates the Protel system beyond anything previously available and brings with it enhancements that will increase the productivity of every Protel customer".

Protel 2004 is currently priced at Eur 7995.

This price also includes a complimentary Universal JT Interface, which allows an FPGA development or production board to interact live with the LiveDesign-enabled features of Protel 2004.

Special pricing is available to all Protel 99 SE customers wishing to upgrade before 31st December 2004.

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