Editor’s Pick: Altium Launches Altium Designer 15

New support for IPC-2581 and Gerber X2 standards enhances handoff to fabrication.

Altium Designer 15 has been enhanced with support for rectangular pad holes. Image courtesy of Altium Ltd.

Sponsored ContentDear Desktop Engineering Reader:

Understanding design and engineering often stumps business people. DE once had a cover shot of a PCB (printed circuit board) design. I was hauled into a meeting with the owner to explain why tartan plaid was the cover story. In addition to not reading the review, she never understood that A) it was big news that there was a Windows application that could do real ECAD in 1996 and B) PCB designers spent a lot of time looking at traces and so forth. Truth be told, the image would have worked best as an idea that led to another, better idea.

But what can really lead to another, better idea is software that gets out of your way so that you can do your job with as little software-related stress as possible. And when it comes to electronics design software, Altium Designer from Altium Ltd. has earned a reputation for being about as stress-free as you can get.

Just out in version 15, this Windows-based software offers you a common interface for schematic and PCB CAD functions, and it provides design verification, validation and formal release and reuse capabilities. Widely deployed, this system also has features that can simplify collaboration with engineering teams outside of PCB design as well as transferring designs to fabrication. Altium Designer also helps you create precise, interoperable data sets needed by the people in assembly, procurement and mechanical co-design.

Interdisciplinary communications is a significant part of version 15. Altium Ltd. added support for Ucamco’s latest Gerber X2 CAD-to-CAM data transfer standard as well as support for the new IPC-2581 vendor-neutral format for PCB design data transfer developed by the IPC-2581 Consortium. What this means for you is that many issues involving ambiguous or missing data with older formats are resolved.

Another key new capability debuting in this release is a Pin Pairs feature for high-speed signal pin pairs that should help you plan and route groups of high-speed nets with greater efficiency and accuracy than before. This feature targets the hassles you might have experienced with designs that required signal propagation rates up to 100 GB/s, an increasingly typical requirement. Usually what happened before was that you used a spreadsheet to handle your signal planning and then you manually reworked the design. Those extra steps, of course, meant all sorts of opportunity for human error and lots of time doing some tedious work.

What the Pin Pairs feature does, according to Altium, is provide you with accurate length and phase tuning across termination components as well as length, phase and delay tuning for entire signal paths. That should eliminate the need for an external application as well as the need to maintain complex lists of signals and nets. The net effect is that this should help you plan and route groups of high-speed nets with greater efficiency and accuracy than before.

Altium Ltd. says that version 15 unveils more than 20 new features and that it comes with 120 fixes and enhancements. A quick list includes new support for PCB xSignals and rectangular pad holes, plus a more flexible subscription model. The PCB xSignals feature, says the company, makes DDR3/4 memory routing and delay as well as phase tuning of bus signals easier. Altium Ltd.’s revised software subscription model should make it easier for you to decide the best time to migrate to a new release of the software.

You can learn more about Altium Designer 15 at the other end of today’s Pick of the Week write-up. There are lots of links at the end to things like short videos on a few of the major new features mentioned here and a sign-up for a trial unit. Make sure to hit the link and check out the features in Altium Designer. It’s multimedia heavy and thoroughly absorbing. Good stuff.

Thanks, Pal. — Lockwood

Anthony J. Lockwood

Editor at Large, Desktop Engineering

Read today’s pick of the week write-up.

This is sponsored content. Click here to see how it works.

Share This Article

Subscribe to our FREE magazine, FREE email newsletters or both!

Join over 90,000 engineering professionals who get fresh engineering news as soon as it is published.

About the Author

Anthony J. Lockwood's avatar
Anthony J. Lockwood

Anthony J. Lockwood is Digital Engineering’s founding editor. He is now retired. Contact him via [email protected].

Follow DE