Multisite Concurrent Design: Tips and Best Practices

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What does concurrent design mean to you? Chances are, if you ask six different engineers or designers you will get six different responses. Their responses will vary based on the types of industries they are in and their experience in this area. When I presented a paper on concurrent design at a conference in 1998, the highlight was having been able to achieve one schematic engineer and one PCB designer located at one site simultaneously working on one design. Since then, time-to-market demands, along with advances in networking technology and cloud computing, have pushed the process to require multiple schematic engineers and multiple PCB designers located at multiple sites, all accessing the same database concurrently: Multi-site concurrent design.

How Did We Get Here?

When commercially-developed EDA software became readily available during the early 1980s, companies with multiple design centers shared very little design data. The EDA vendors were tightly aligned with computer hardware vendors and there were no standards for installation or GUIs. Typically, each design center was responsible for configuring and managing their individual installation of the EDA tool suite--easy, but limited. Each design center usually had a dedicated tools support person or team that would gladly customize the environment based on user requests. Configuration management was mostly ad hoc, with little traceability back to the original requirements for any environment customization.

Over time, as EDA software matured, as technology allowed for real-time collaboration, and as companies expanded, merged, or were acquired, each site’s highly customized, locally optimized unique environment suddenly became a liability. For one design center to share data with another design center, the local environment and the local CAD library had to be self-contained (best case) or transferred in whole (worst case) in order for the design data to be viewable and editable at another site. Design teams quickly came to the realization that standardization of both the EDA environment and the CAD library would be required to realistically share and reuse design data.Read the full article here.Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the July 2014 issue of The PCB Design Magazine.


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