PCB Update

There are some areas of verification and analysis. All of this is rule driven. You can monitor all of the results, cross probe between topology, schematic and 3D designs and see the results on the screen.

Would you talk about e-PLM?
Even a single PCB or multiboard PCB has a lifecycle. More and more customers have to handle the lifecycle of a PCB because many things are changing within the PCB. Components are changing constantly due to updates from the manufacturers. The Bill of Material has its own lifecycle depending upon what type of component is the preferred component in the company. This is changing all the time. Specifications are changing all the time. This may have an impact on the schematic or the PCB itself. A PCB is in constant change mode. Customers who have a very high number of products to maintain, the automotive industry for instance, have to maintain hundreds of different products. Each of these products has 100 to 500 different variants. This means that customers will never be able to handle all of this without an integrated lifecycle management approach for the engineering portion. That's what Zuken is concentrating on. Zuken has a truly integrated PLM solution around our CR-5000 architecture which allows our customers to handle all that change around a schematic, around a PCB and around a BOM. The unique thing is that these three areas (schematic, PCB and BOM) are fully under control and fully synchronized with each other. We call this three point comparison. This means it is independent from where the change is coming from. It doesn't matter. The database is able to handle these changes, track these changes and synchronize those changes to ensure before something is going into the product that everything is in synch.

What is the pricing and packaging for CR-5000?
The per seat cost is roughly between $30K and $100K depending upon which modules the customer wants in his PCB design system.

Perpetual or time based license?
We have several license models available for purchasing the product. There are rental models and lease models. It would depend upon the business case for each customer.

How does Zuken sell its products? Direct or indirect?
The CR-5000, e-PLM and 3D electromechanical products go direct through Zuken. The only thing that is distributed is CADSTAR.

What has been going on in the end user world recently? What challenges are there today versus the past?
I strongly believe that that there is nothing that is really new. We are facing the fact that PCB has become a highly constrained activity and is following a real design process rather than a tool focus, which means we are concentrating on how we can build a design architecture which follows a system design process, all the way through. This is not really a single schematic design or PCB design. I think that things like embedded components and HDI technology. This is something that is in the market for 10 years or more. The only thing that is really helping companies like Zuken customers is making sure the EDA design process is becoming a process and this process can be integrated into customers' business supply change.

Do today's higher speeds, more complex packages and so forth have a significant impact on your product direction?
It is an evolutionary thing but we need to make sure that we keep up with this evolution. This is the reason we have developed a fully constrained business flow, a simulation based flow. Many of the things like trunking where our customers need to be able to design quickly within time constraints and make sure these designs work in the end.

We are working into system designs. System design means more than one simple PCB. Customers, I don't want to stress automotive too much, but they are delivering a lot of example that are true for all the other industries to handle the entire system which has multiple PCBs, multiple systems inside. We are more or less forced or motivated to build solutions that will be able to handle multiboard approaches, especially the interconnect between those PCB. We have to provide those designs through more than one PCB. We have to simulate for signal integrity aspects for more than one PCB. We have to involve the interconnect whether it is a flat cable, a FPC, a round cable or whatever else it might be. This drives us immediately into the direction of 3D because as you can imagine a multiboard means interconnection between those boards. It could be a straight forward connection or it cold be a curved connection. If we have to handle those signal integrity aspects we have to make sure that it can be handled in a three dimensional environment. This is our future direction.

Do you see the PCB market in terms of revenue as decreasing, flat or increasing? Is this a function of the number of users or the price that can be demanded by vendors?
The PCB market is flat but it is increasing in other areas than the PCB itself. The market within the signal integrity world is increasing because the problems are now in this area rather than in the standard PCB area. PCB complexity is increasing in terms of process orientation. Front-loaded approaches is the area where the business is increasing rather than the PCB itself. The PCB tools market is flat. In other areas the market is really increasing.

Note: Since the interview with Zuken, they announced the impending acquisition of CIM-Team GmbH, a provider of software solutions for electrical engineering, fluidics, electronics and logical cabling. CIM-Team is headquartered in Ulm, Germany and has subsidiaries and branch offices in Hannover, Switzerland, North and South America, Scandinavia, England and Italy. CIM_Team had revenue of 8M Euros last year. They have a worldwide network of resellers.

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