May 01, 2006
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The Printed Circuit Board Market is an important albeit a small part of the overall EDA market. The table below shows the size of the PCB and MCM market for the last two years.
Source EDA Consortium
The combined PCB and MCM revenue accounts for about 7.5% of total EDA revenue. This market is flat. The market is dominated by Mentor Graphics, Cadence and Zuken. I had an opportunity to interview representative of two of these firms.
I spoke with David Weins Director of Business Development before Mentor's April 10th announcement of XtremeAR, its new autorouting product for large PCB boards.
laptops where form factors are critical. Boards where autorouting has done a good job are monster sized boards, things like network switch cards, servers, mainframes, and big backplanes.
Would you expand on the types of products that have these complex form factors?
a combination of the two. Typically on a very dense design, they will lay it out or rather place it by hand so all of the components are in place. Then they will automate fan out and do a little bit of automated routing just to see how things are going to look. Then they come back and either manually clean it up or decide that they want to rip up a whole bunch of stuff and reroute it manually. It is kind of an iterative approach between automatic and manual tools. The reason we distinguish is because the automated layout side those boards are the ones where you tend to be able to push the button and get fairly close to 100% without a whole lot of manual cleanup.
checks to determine if they are still valid, makes modifications if necessary and then sends them back to each of the clients in real time. It is a very dynamic process to sit there and watch multiple people working concurrently and see the edits of each of their peers showing up next to them. That's the underlying technology.
We launched XtremePCB in late 2004 for this predominantly manual mode where multiple layout designers can work on a design and get it done quicker. In that case we saw cycle times being reduced by 40% to 70%, fairly significant considering the densities and the times taken to get some of these boards done. The types of things users would most likely to do by hand include component placement, the interactive routing aspect of it and other tasks like documentation, manufacturing prep. In some cases engineers are virtually looking over the shoulders of the layout designer, potentially even making edits to insure optimized performance on a circuit.
Over the past year how many systems of XtremePCB have been sold?
The number of systems sold is in the dozens at this point. These are the sorts of tools that fit into large enterprises but we have also seen service bureaus because it can cut down their design time. This is a key element of competition.
Some customers have experienced 40% to 70% optimization of performance. We are seeing better in some cases but we haven't characterized all the data we have been getting.
The new product is XtremeAR?
XtremeAR takes the same methodology that is used for XtremePCB and applies it to distributed autorouting, people working off of a central network with a central server involved. In this case it is a single user driving multiple machines. It is utilizing the same patented technology with a limit of 15 CPUs. We are experiencing up to this point roughly 10X reduction in execution time. This is huge compared to the incremental improvement that we can make in tools over the year and get improvement of the order of 10% to 15%. Here you have an immediate 10X reduction in cycle time just be leveraging existing hardware. This is with 15 CPUs.
The reason why it doesn't achieve 100% optimization is because of that patented technology where the autorouter looks at the design and partitions up these nets and sends to each of these processors. The routes get done by those processors, are received back, design rule checks are done, modifications are done if necessary and then redistributed to the autorouter. That kind of pulsing process is what reduces the optimal performance from 100%. It is not bad by any means but it is not network traffic or anything like that, although that can impact it. It is the router itself crunching away on circuits.
Where are people doing autorouting?
prototyping of the layout to get the most efficient design.
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-- Jack Horgan, EDACafe.com Contributing Editor.
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