PADS® Migration Journey

You’re probably here because as a PADS user you have concerns about the future of your current PCB design tools? Well, the good news is you're not alone, far from it.

Many PADS Logic and Layout users have already made the transition to Altium Designer. For some, it was the limited investments in their tool or the ignored enhancement requests. For others, it was the notion that they needed to migrate to a different flow in order to get those “new” features.

Your PCB design tool should keep pace with new and emerging technologies and industry trends. Using the modules below, we’ll learn how Altium Designer does just that while also addressing evolving technologies and increased design complexity all in one easy to learn, easy to use, single user interface.

Module 1

Unified Design Environment.

Altium Designer, it’s all there in a single, unified design platform that keeps you seamlessly connected to every aspect of your design, at all times. No more having to install individual products for different aspects of the design flow. A single UI for all aspects of the PCB design flow lets you learn a command once and experience improved productivity through a common set of commands, hotkeys, and shortcuts throughout the design flow.

The reason I wanted to switch tools was a lot of dissatisfaction with PADS. The user interface is outdated. This is a huge problem.
Jeremy Frank Electrical Engineer, Systron Donner
Module 2

HDI and Micro Vias

An integral aspect of designing HDI boards is the use of micro-vias with different via spans and stack-ups to maximize the real estate available between those dense and high pin count devices. The Altium Designer Layer Stack Manager delivers a single editor to define the layer stack itself, layer thicknesses, materials, and their parameters, back drilling requirements, and of course the different via types and spans.

It took me 3-4 years to convince management that we needed to move from PADS. Every engineer we interviewed had used Altium Designer, but none had used PADS. That finally convinced them to switch.
Brad Kelley Engineering and Product Manager, Web Electronics
Module 3

Rule Areas and Rooms

Now that you’ve defined your micro-vias to support your HDI requirements, how do you ensure that the correct via types and spans are used in the specific areas throughout your design? A “Rule Area” is a commonly used term in many PCB design tools to specify an area where a different set of design rules, such as trace clearance/width and via type should be applied. Altium Designer uses “Rooms” to accomplish this. So let’s see how easy it is to define a room and apply the appropriate rule set to them in Altium Designer, then interactively and automatically route adhering to those rules around a dense BGA.

I’ve been using Altium Designer for about a year. I enjoy it! It’s much easier than PADS. I enjoy putting the puzzle together that is the PCB.
Brandon Varner Lead PCB Designer, Sunrise Medical
Module 4

Routing and Tuning Differential Pairs

Have you ever asked yourself: “Can, or where should I route and tune my differential in PADS?” Should I use Layout or Router and why are the violations and DRC’s reported different when I move between those two environments? You do not have that dilemma with Altium Designer. Interactively, automatically, or semi-automatically (using ActiveRoute) route and tune all of your traces, including those Differential Pairs and other high-speed traces in a single PCB layout editing environment.

I found that in PADS, push routing did weird stuff. In Altium, it works great and gives the expected result every time.
Brad Kelley Engineering and Product Manager, Web Electronics
Module 5

Component Research and Selection

Finding new parts for your design and dynamically determining availability and cost while being able to download their schematic symbols, PCB footprints, and 3D models is easy in Altium Designer. Search from hundreds of the world’s leading electronic components distributors simultaneously, don’t be limited to one or two like you are with PartQuest. Keep your BOM synchronized throughout the design process, using ActiveBOM and see real-time updates of component availability and cost as your build quantity changes. Also, track “where used” so as components become obsolete or availability decreases you can update your design and project data accordingly and substitute different parts.

The biggest value in Altium Designer for me is the Active BOM. The ability to view parts and availability in near-real-time is great.
Brandon Varner Lead PCB Designer, Sunrise Medical
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