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Harry Kennedy and Sarmad Khemmoro of Altair recently spoke with Andy Shaughnessy about their AltiumLive presentations, which are now available online. They discuss the need for PCB design modeling, simulation, and verification and why these actions should be performed as early in the design process as possible.
Andy Shaughnessy: You are both presenters at AltiumLive 2022. Harry, why don’t you go first? Tell us about your presentation.
Harry Kennedy: Sure, I’m a technical specialist in electronic system design here at Altair and have previously worked at a semiconductor company in Dallas, Texas. The topic of the presentation is addressing PCB design quality with a simulation-driven design methodology. What does that really mean? When I started creating and designing PCBs, I was having issues; I would be building with a component and then find out that it’s no longer in stock, and the lead time would mess up my delivery date. Challenges even occurred when we started to look at high-speed applications. Once, we designed an evaluation module only to find out that there were EMC issues across the board. I was banging my head, trying to get the right lab data and a good result, and I wasn’t sure what I could do. I had to reach out to subject matter experts to walk me through the process.
I could see the challenges first-hand while I had to bring design, EMC, or thermal experts into the conversation. This methodology was wasting a lot of time and creating inefficiencies in the process. In working with Altair, I quickly learned that if I had changed my methodology from a product design perspective to more of a simulation-driven methodology, I could have solved many of these problems more effectively and saved time in the process.
We have a new product called Altair PollEx for Altium, which will be available for all Altium Designer users. The main tool is the PCB modeler, which helps you to import and review PCB design data, create redline and markup on the design, and at the same time allows for PCB verification and analysis. You can run design for manufacturing (DFM), design for electrical (DFE) checks, and PCB analysis tools such as thermal analysis and signal integrity analysis, all in one application. In my presentation I will highlight how you can actually start shifting your mindset from a product design methodology to more of a simulation first methodology and ultimately increase that PCB design quality.
Shaughnessy: What are some of the takeaways for the attendees?
Kennedy: Today, we’re all trying to save time and money, and we want to help our engineers become more efficient in the process by adding verification analysis before even bringing in subject matter experts. This fits into the process of shifting left. Again, when you’re a design engineer, you take care of as many initial setups and initial results as you can to help the rest of the team make more effective decisions.
Another example could be that before you send out a board to fabrication, you’ll run some DFM checks. “Am I actually making sure that this board can be manufactured such that we don’t have issues when we send it overseas or to our U.S. manufacturers?” Creating those options for the design engineer allows you to save time and efficiency, and also allows you to have better, more productive team meetings just about the key points and aspects of the issues. You can easily use PollEx in Altium to showcase the values as well as the problem areas, and have your whole team make quick and easy efficient decisions.
Shaughnessy: That sounds really good. Sarmad do you want to give us a taste of your presentation?
Sarmad Khemmoro: Andy, thanks for having me here. I’m in charge of business development for Altair's electronics system design solutions. At AltiumLive, my presentation focuses on how to ensure electronic system reliability, and how EDA companies like Altium and Altair are addressing it to help our joint customers. I’ll be talking about the trends in electronic system design, the complexity, the growing cost, the timeline, and depending on the industry the customer is coming from (automotive, aerospace, or medical), the many different compliance mandates they have to follow. I’ll also be talking about the electronic system, which consists of multiple disciplines—electronic PCB, mechanical, software, electrical, and what kinds of challenges.
Customers must integrate all of this because you cannot work on a server just as a PCB designer; you still have to be working with the mechanical engineer, the manufacturing engineer, and the software engineer. I’ll also explain the challenges of the PCB and the subsystem. What kind of challenges do they face, including environmental, high-speed signaling, thermal manufacturability, cost, maybe power issues? I will be explaining these challenges to the users, then what typically customers usually do? Of course, a lot of engineering people and designers do l lab testing and field testing, which is the most common one. But many companies are now moving to simulation by performing virtualization of their design process.
I also discuss the cost of not doing virtualization or simulation on the design cycle. Then I move into explaining what Altair is doing in this area. Altair is coming to this market from a strong simulation background on the mechanical and high-frequency simulation side; we’ve been investing heavily in the electronics simulation and analysis. We bring to market several solutions, and we will be working with Altium to provide Altium Designer users access to our solution to do verification and simulation during the PCB design process.
Shaughnessy: What takeaways would you like to see attendees leave with?
Khemmoro: The main takeaway for attendees is that when they’re designing electronics, they should also think about other disciplines. Think about other people they need to work with, which is the other team members, the CAE expert, the mechanical guys, and the manufacturing guys. Design is getting more complicated, so they need to bring all these people together early and get their input. That’s one thing. The other takeaway is that there’s no one vendor or supplier that can provide all the solutions. Having multiple “partners” like Altair and Altium working together to help their customers is beneficial to the all.
Shaughnessy: Sounds good. Thank you both for a great interview.
Kennedy: Thank you, Andy.
Watch Harry Kennedy's presentation "Addressing PCB Design Quality with a Simulation Driven Design Methodology" below.