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Mentor brings down cost for high-end PCB design platforms

Posted: 13 May 2015     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Mentor Graphics  PCB design 

It can be a nerve-racking proposition for an independent engineer making the move from a tool set that was either free or cost no more than $500 to a more capable environment that in the past has cost in the range of $10,000. In the case of the engineer working alone or in a small company, it is impact on his or her own wallet. In the case of independent engineers in a larger corporate environment, it is the stress of dealing with the paper work involved in justifying such a purchase.

PAD Professional

PAD Professional includes many of the capabilities of high end tools such as Xpedition Enterprise.

To reduce the nail-biting involved in making those transitions, Mentor's suite of PADS tools includes three levels of design capability and pricing:

(1) PADS Standard: Schematic and PCB layout with starter parts library, part creation Wizard and archive management priced at $5,000 including support.

(2) PADS Standard Plus: PADS Standard, plus advanced constraint management, high speed net constraints and routing, central library creation and management, signal/thermal/analogue simulation, and variants design priced at $10,000, including support.

(3) PADS Professional: PADS Standard Plus, with the addition of high-end design tools such as sketch routing, simultaneous 2D/3D layout, hierarchical placement planning, component and net explorers, and manufacturing prep and design review/compare, priced at $18,000, including support.

At $5,000 the pricing on Mentor's PAD Standard is likely to have a bomb-shell impact on the mid-range PCB design tool market, where the average pricing has ranged from $10,000 to $15,000. No less impactful is the effect it will have on the high end of the PCB design market, where Mentor's Xpedition PCB suite is a major player and where the cost of a fully capable design suite is far beyond that of an individual developer and most small companies.

Wiens said that among the high end capabilities that Mentor brings to the new PADS platform are: correct-by-construction capability through the use of a common constraint management system used across the design flow; virtual prototyping capabilities as well as signal/power integrity analysis, analogue or thermal simulation, and advanced full-board rule checks; layout in 2D/3D, dynamic power distribution design, and constraint-driven routing; parts library access to over 360,000 parts via PartQuest, a fully integrated website that also merges Digi-Key part numbers with symbols and footprints; validation of the design for fabrication and test, as well as all the work tasks involved in preparation for manufacturing hand-off and documentation; and management and archiving of different design revs, and simplification of reviews across an organisation.

Attractive as all these and other capabilities will be to independent engineers in the mid-range of the PCB environment, what will be just as compelling at the high end is that PADS Professional is priced at only $18,000 for an unlimited usage contract compared to the much more expensive and complex licensing arrangements typical of high-end tools.

And rather than making Mentor's Xpedition tool suite less desirable, Wiens said the exposure of some of its capabilities via the PADS platform opens up access to a broader range of developers who many not have previously considered it.

- Bernard Cole
  EE Times


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