Pulsonix Expands into North America with Version 10 Release

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At PCB West in Santa Clara, California, I-Connect007 Guest Editor Tim Haag and Publisher Barry Matties sat down with Ty Stephens of Pulsonix on the eve of the software developer’s much-anticipated version 10 release date. Stephens outlined many new updates in the upcoming release—which has been in development for over two years—and discussed the company’s desire to break into the highly competitive North American software market.

Tim Haag: Ty, it's great to meet you. I'm not very familiar with Pulsonix, but I’ve done some research, and I'm excited to learn more. For everybody out there, can you give us an overview of your company?

Ty Stephens: Thanks, Tim. It’s good to meet you too. Thank you for your time today. Pulsonix is an advanced schematic capture, simulation program with integrated circuit emphasis (SPICE), and PCB design package, and with our latest release, 3D PCB design capability. We’re a U.K.-based company with key installations throughout the world and are very well established in Europe.

Haag: I see you have a full schematic capture program. Do you offer library parts?

Stephens: Yes, within our design programs, we have our own ready-to-use parts that are supplied with the Pulsonix installation, and also partner component suppliers such as Samacsys, PCB Libraries, SnapEDA, and Ultra Librarian to supply millions of parts and STEP models to our users. With the Pulsonix Component Search Engine—a product delivered in partnership with Samacsys—we can offer over 15 million parts from the click of your cursor for placement in the design and also automatically save them to your libraries.

Haag: So, you're able to offer quite a bit in the schematic portion. I noticed that you have SPICE in there.

Stephens: Yes, we have a fully integrated SPICE simulation package within Pulsonix that allows you to simulate at the click of a button and cross probe symbols to see live results in the application. We also have simulation exports to other SPICE packages as well like LTspice. What is nice is that the same libraries used in our schematic and PCB editors are used for generating SPICE netlists. All our SPICE interfaces are capable of running the external simulators directly from Pulsonix.

Haag: And on the layout side, you have a full place and route. Do you have your own autorouter?

Stephens: Yes, we provide two autorouters within the package; one standard out-of-the-box product that does more of a hand-routed effect to the layout, and a second advanced and more powerful autorouter for higher-density boards that can route much quicker and produce at a higher completion rate.

Haag: You also mentioned earlier that you're doing 3D mechanical, so you're able to interface with some of the other mechanical CAD packages that are out there.

Stephens: That's correct. We use the industry standard STEP format to bidirectionally exchange data between our tool and mechanical systems. We export to DXF, IDF, and IGES to complete our MCAD integration. What we've done now with Pulsonix 10—which is about to be released—is extend our 3D capabilities by allowing users to import their enclosures within the product and make positional changes to components within the 3D environment with live collision alerts between components and the enclosure. This is something we are really proud of and is an extremely powerful feature within Pulsonix.

I spoke to a customer about a year ago informing them where we were going in the 3D area. They told me about an issue they were having where they were sent a board outline from their mechanical team in STEP format, which they would read into Pulsonix. After, they would layout the component positions, produce a STEP file from Pulsonix, and send it back to their colleagues in the mechanical department for collision detection between components and the enclosure. Three or four days later, they'd come back and say, “Your position is slightly wrong. You need to move this component.” They would make this change and repeat the cycle only to find a new issue with placement. Now we're talking seven, 10, or 14 working days just to get the layout positioning correct before you can even start routing.

With Pulsonix 10, you can bring that enclosure into the PCB design environment. Our users can position the enclosure, get the component placement correct using the online collision detection, and then start routing straight away. For this customer, we've gone from essentially 14 working days of downtime to being able to begin routing in a few minutes following the intelligent checking and placement.

Haag: That seems to be a great need among designers. I wish I had that when I was designing boards. I worked for a company where I designed boards for projectors. I’d finish my layout, pat myself on the back, get it back from the 3D mechanical guys, and see a capacitor sticking through the roof of the projector, which was not good.

Stephens: No, that would not be good! That’s exactly the sort of situation Pulsonix 10 is handling and correcting. It brings the design process further forward and definitely saves costly mistakes and time.


Haag: What are your customers saying about this?

Stephens: They're really excited. I think they can now see the benefit of bringing this functionality into one fully unified environment. What we're trying to do is reduce the amount of time spent unnecessarily waiting, especially for those who aren't as multidisciplined. So, if you're purely ECAD centric, you don’t need to wait for your mechanical colleague to come back with positional changes. This is going to save them a lot of time. We're quite excited. The initial response from our current and prospective customers has been very positive, which is encouraging for us.

Haag: What would you say sets apart Pulsonix from the rest of your competition?

Stephens: Mainly, it's about us as a company. The whole company is customer-focused—and I know every EDA vendor says that—but we really are, which makes my job exciting. When we work with customers, we service their needs and address their issues. As a dynamic company, we put a high emphasis on listening and reacting to our customers, which flows through the whole company—not just the customer-facing teams, but also the backroom staff and developers.

Tim, you might know this from when you were in the field. If you had a question that needed answering from support or you found a bug in the software, how long could it take for you to get a response from your local support channel? Days, weeks, or months? With us, it doesn’t take weeks or months! We aim to respond immediately to customer reported issues. Typically, critical fixes are issued within 24 hours or less and even less than that Europe where the time zones are closer to that of the U.K. Our fixes are tested and delivered back to the customer in the field so that they can continue designing with minimum interruption. Imagine waiting for a critical fix that takes weeks. How could you even use that product?


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