Altium Designer Documentation

ActiveRoute Improvements

Modified by Jason Howie on Nov 15, 2017

ActiveRoute is an automated interactive routing technology that delivers efficient multi-net routing algorithms, applied to the specific connections or nets selected by the designer. ActiveRoute is not an autorouter that requires extensive setup to tackle an entire board.

This release of Altium Designer sees a number of improvements to existing ActiveRoute features, as well as a number of new features.

Visit the ActiveRoute page to learn more about performing an ActiveRoute.

The Extended ActiveRoute Panel

ActiveRoute follows the criteria and restrictions defined by the PCB design rules, so using it is simply a matter of selecting the connections or nets of interest, and running it. It does have a number of specific control features, these are configured in the extended PCB ActiveRoute panel.

Use the PCB ActiveRoute panel to control the ActiveRoute process.

Track to Track Space in the Route Guide

One of the primary objectives of ActiveRoute is to find the shortest overall set of route lengths, which may not be the desired path for every set of connections. The Route Guide provides the designer with a tool they can use to draft a specific path they would like the selected connections to flow along, even if that path is not the shortest. 


Using the new Track-Track Space in Route Guide feature, you can instruct ActiveRoute to spread the routes across the width of the Route Guide. Use the slider to select a spacing value, or type a value into the edit box. The Route Guide will automatically be sized to take this setting into account, to achieve this you must configure the setting before defining the Route Guide. You can further adjust the width of Route Guide during placement, by pressing the  and  down keys.

Refer to the PCB ActiveRoute panel page to learn more.

Meander Control

ActiveRoute attempts to route the selected connections along the shortest possible path, or in other words, using the minimum amount of meandering. If the ActiveRoute completion rate is lower than expected, the new Meander control allows the designer to increase the amount of meander that ActiveRoute is allowed, which may help raise the completion rate. The default maximum Meander setting is 100%, meaning the routes are allowed to have a total route length of Manhattan Length + 100% of Manhattan Length. Use the slider to select a meander value, or type a percentage into the edit box.

Note that the meander setting is ignored when using the Route Guide, because the Route Guide is intended to be used to define a path which may significantly increase the meander. 


Refer to the PCB ActiveRoute panel page to learn more.

Length Tuning

With this release, ActiveRoute adds support for automatically tuning the route lengths, attempting to meet the selected Matched Length design rule.

To configure ActiveRoute to length tune:

  • Enable the Tune Selected checkbox in the Action section of the panel.
  • Enable the required Matched Length design rule in the Tune section of the panel.
  • Configure the required Max Amplitude and Min Space settings (either Single Ended, or Differential Pair) in the Tune section of the panel.


Refer to the PCB ActiveRoute panel page to learn more.

Support for Pin Swapping

The software includes a powerful pin and part swapping system, linked between the schematic and PCB editors. ActiveRoute can now access the pin swap settings, and swap pins during routing if it reduces the overall route length and improves the route quality.

To use pin swapping:

  • Before any pin swapping can be performed (interactively or by ActiveRoute), the project must be compiled (Project menu) each time it is opened.
  • To configure and manage the pin swapping settings for components, run the Tools » Pin/Part Swapping » Configure command, opening the Configure Swapping Information in Components dialog.
  • Enable the Pin Swap Routing option in the Action section of the PCB ActiveRoute panel.
  • Enable the required components in the Pin Swap section of the PCB ActiveRoute panel.


Other Improvements

  • Improved Route Quality
    • Escaping out of BGA fanouts has been greatly improved, with a bias for coming straight out of the BGA rather than jogging through it.
    • Improved support for wrapping a differential pair around the vias to get the ordering right, making the escapes as direct as possible.
    • Numerous minor fixes to resolve issues such as excessive meandering and acute angles.
  • Better Support for Rooms
    • The quality of the transition when crossing a room boundary has been improved, including differential pairs that change gap and width at the boundary.
    • Improved the effectiveness of using a room around a BGA. Empirical testing has shown that increasing the spacing between differential pairs outside the room, up to a maximum of about 5 times the normal clearance, results in very clean, high quality routing.
  • Route Guide Graphics
    • The maximum width of the Route Guide has been increased to 10x, allowing it to be used as a general purpose routing keep-in definition tool.
    • The Route Guide color now takes on the layer color, if only one layer is made available. If multiple layers are available it is drawn in the standard Route Guide Color.
  • Improved Feedback
    • Extra detail added to Messages, and also in the Status bar.
    • The Status bar displays the number of connections just selected; for example after using  to select connections, or selecting nets / net classes in the PCB panel. Note that since the PCB editor is constantly updating the Status bar to report on the object currently under the cursor, as soon as the cursor moves over another object, the selection count will disappear.


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