Altium pushes design capture into the next dimension

EDA industry’s first multi-dimensional design tool integrates PCB and FPGA design

MUNICH, Germany – November 12, 2002 – Altium, a leading developer of Windows-based electronic design and development software, today announced the release of nVisage, a new 'multi-dimensional’ design capture tool that allows design engineers to capture the conceptual design of their entire electronic system into a single, integrated environment. Altium will demonstrate nVisage for the first time at the Electronica trade fair in Munich, Germany today.

With the launch of nVisage, Altium pioneers a new, holistic design capture methodology that offers engineers the choice of multiple design entry methods and final implementation targets. Engineers can input their designs using schematic or VHDL-based design entry methods, or a combination of both, and can output the design data to be implemented on a PCB, inside an FPGA, or a combination of both implementation options.

“Multi-dimensional design capture is the natural successor to current two-dimensional design capture in the evolution of electronics design,” says Nick Martin, founder and joint CEO, Altium. “It moves beyond the realm of board design to encompass design for all aspects of the electronics system – regardless of the final target implementation or whether the circuitry is physical or virtual. It moves beyond schematic capture and opens up access to other text-based entry methodologies in a multi-layered design environment with full support for multi-channel design.”

As design cycles continue to shorten, the design process for all elements of the electronics system are under pressure to converge. For this to be workable for mainstream design engineers, an integrated design platform and a method for keeping design data synchronized need to be accessible to the mass market.

Key Capabilities

  • Hierarchical schematic capture for both board-level and FPGA designs
  • Bidirectional Orcad® schematic and library translation
  • Support for nested multi-channel (channel-within-channel) schematic designs
  • Mixed schematic and VHDL FPGA design
  • VHDL-driven RTL synthesis for multiple FPGA target architectures
  • SPICE 3f5 / XSpice-compliant simulation directly from schematic
  • VHDL simulation with support for timing back annotation
  • Pre-layout signal integrity analysis directly from schematic
nVisage Overview

nVisage integrates multi-channel, hierarchical schematic-based circuit and FPGA design with text-based VHDL, and allows a single design to be captured using any mix of these design entry methods. As well as offering engineers a choice of design entry methodologies, nVisage includes design analysis and verification tools including SPICE-compliant circuit simulation, VHDL simulation and pre-layout signal integrity capabilities. nVisage will also include synthesis and compilation tools to prepare design information for its progression to the design implementation stage.

nVisage is based on Altium’s proprietary Design Explorer (DXP) platform, which provides design project management features and tool integration. Notable features of the system include its extensive integrated component libraries and library management, full primitive and macro libraries for Xilinx® and Altera® FPGAs, the ability to integrate with third-party version control systems such as Microsoft® Visual SourceSafe®, and support for multiple design variants from a single set of source files.

The nVisage schematic editor provides support for nested multi-channel designs, particularly useful in many FPGA design situations. Unlike traditional schematic tools that simply copy and paste repeated circuitry as additional sheets, nVisage maintains channel hierarchy at all times. This means that channel circuitry can be edited at any time without the need to manually edit multiple sheets. Similarly, the number of repeated channels can be changed at any time. The ability to define 'channels within channels' gives engineers infinite flexibility in the partitioning of multi-channel designs, maintaining the readability of the schematics on even the most complex circuits.

The full power of the nVisage schematic editor is available for both board-level and FPGA-level designs. For FPGA projects, nVisage includes full pre-synthesized macro and primitive schematic libraries for all Xilinx® and Altera® FPGA families. Engineers can also use nVisage’s text-based coding environment to carry out VHDL-driven FPGA design. Extensive schematic/VHDL cross probing and cross navigation features, combined with the ability to mix schematic and VHDL sources and synthesize VHDL for a variety of target architectures, makes nVisage a true mixed-mode design environment for FPGAs.

nVisage also includes a comprehensive component library management system that continues and extends the integration present throughout the product. Integrated component libraries allow engineers to associate multiple models with a component. These models can be schematic symbols, PCB footprints, simulation models, signal integrity models, VHDL representation, etc. The models represent different 'views' of the same component and the appropriate model is selected by nVisage based on the context in which it is used.

Protel DXP, the latest generation of Altium’s complete board-level design solution, works natively with nVisage project and document files. This allows nVisage engineers to work seamlessly with Protel board designers, and provides full synchronization between the capture and PCB design processes. nVisage DXP also includes bidirectional Orcad® translation to allow engineers currently working with Orcad® schematics to easily migrate and take advantage of the additional dimensions that nVisage has to offer.

Pricing and Availability

The nVisage DXP new license list price is US$2,995. However until December 31, 2002, Altium will offer introductory cross-grade/upgrade prices from US$995 for users of other PC-based schematic capture tools/suites such as Protel, P-CAD and Orcad Capture®.

nVisage will be officially launched and demonstrated at the Electronica trade show in Munich, Germany on 12-15 November, 2002. Product is expected to be shipping in December.

For more product information, visit or contact your local Altium Sales and Support Center.

About Altium Limited

Altium Limited (ASX: ALU) is a leading global developer and supplier of desktop Electronic Design Automation (EDA) and embedded software design tools for the Microsoft Windows environment.

Since the company’s foundation in 1985 and its release of the world’s first Microsoft Windows-based EDA tool in 1991, Altium has continued to apply the most advanced software design methods to provide powerful, easy-to-use and affordable design software to engineers and electronics designers worldwide.

Altium’s current product brands include Protel, P-CAD, TASKING, Accolade, CircuitMaker and CAMtastic!. These products offer tailored solutions covering a range of hardware and software design processes.

Altium is headquartered in Sydney, Australia, and operates a number of sales and support offices in Australia, the United States, Japan and Europe, as well as maintaining a large reseller network in all other major markets. More information about the company and its products and services may be obtained from our website at

Altium USA Media Contact
Sarah Seifert
800 West El Camino Real
Mountain View, CA 94040
Telephone: +1 650 968 4033
Fax: +1 650 968 2201
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Corporate Media Contact
Jessica Maxwell
Altium Limited
Level 3, 12a Rodborough Road
Frenchs Forest, NSW 2086
Telephone: +61 2 9975 7710
Fax: +61 2 9975 7720
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Altium, Protel, Protel DXP, DXP, Design Explorer, nVisage, P-CAD, TASKING, Accolade, CircuitMaker, CAMtastic!, Situs and Topological Autorouting and their respective logos are trademarks or registered trademarks of Altium Limited or its subsidiaries. “Xilinx" is a registered trademark of Xilinx Inc., “Altera" is a registered trademark of Altera Corporation, “Microsoft” and “Visual SourceSafe” are registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation, and “Orcad” and “Orcad Capture” are registered trademarks of Cadence Design Systems Inc. All other registered or unregistered trademarks referenced herein are the property of their respective owners, and no trademark rights to the same are claimed.

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