Advanced Design Technologies

Now reading version 15.1. For the latest, read: Advanced Design Technologies for version 20.2

Today the 3 dimensional interconnects created by the routing do more than carry current and express a voltage - more and more the creation of those interconnects is becoming an engineering analysis and design challenge in its own right.

Modern, compact designs delivered in unusually shaped cases, demanding lower voltage and power requirements, using shrinking device technology, that operates at faster switching speeds, have all introduced new challenges for the board implementation phase of electronic product development. Various design technologies have emerged to help, many of which are available in Altium Designer.

Designing with Touch Controls

Touch sensitive electronics are on the forefront of technology. As the user interface becomes more important to the success of your product, clean and modern controls are now considered essential.

Adding a touch sensor to your electronic product is a process that starts at the beginning of a design, and extends into the board design process. Altium Designer's touch sensor support allows you do to easily integrate touch sensors into your design workflow.

Altium Designer's touch control support includes:

  • Configurable touch sensor libraries that let you set the controls and parameters of your device from the start.
  • Automatically generate the complex land patterns and footprints required for touch sensors.
  • Model and verify your designs in Native 3D to make sure they are aligned and fit correctly.
  • Atmel® QTouch® and QMatrix® libraries; Cypress® Capsense® libraries; & Microchip® mTouch® libraries

Learn more about Designing with Touch Controls

Rigid-Flex Design

Rigid-flex is the name given to a printed circuit that is a combination of both flexible circuit(s) and rigid circuit(s). Initially developed for the space program to save space and weight, they are popular today in portable devices, such as mobile phones and tablets.

As well as helping reduce the size of a product, they can also:

  • Reduce packaging complexity by substantially reducing the need for interconnect wiring
  • Improve product reliability due to reduced interconnection hardware and improved assembly yields
  • Reduce cost, when considered as part of the overall product manufacture and assembly costs

Altium Designer's strong support for rigid-flex includes the ability to perform 3D collision detection, within Altium Designer's native 3D PCB editor. You can also generate 3D STEP-format output of the folded board, ready to load into your MCAD software.

Learn more about Rigid-flex Design

High Speed Design

In a high-speed digital design, the routing cannot be considered as simple interconnections. With a fast switching signal, energy can reflect from the target pin back towards the source, interacting with and distorting the original signal.

The way the signal energy interacts with the materials that carry that signal, changes too. No longer contained within the routing copper, some of the energy travels in the surrounding insulation. This energy can radiate from the route and couple into adjacent routes, or radiate further and become electromagnetic interference (EMI), resulting in the product failing to meet mandatory emission standards.

These challenges are managed by applying suitable high-speed design techniques, including:

  • Careful material selection and layer stack design
  • Use of differential pairs, where possible
  • Controlled impedance routing, with well defined signal return paths
  • Signal integrity and impedance analysis
  • Length tuning to ensure the signal timing requirements are met
  • Careful design and use of vias

Learn more about High Speed Design

Signal Integrity Analysis

A key element of high speed design is maintaining the integrity of the signals. When signal edge rates become comparable to the round trip delay time of the signal traveling along a track, transmission line effects come into play that can significantly alter the circuit's behavior. To help the designer cope with the added complexity of transmission line analysis on the PCB, Altium Designer includes a signal integrity simulator.

Unlike a circuit simulator, which models and simulates the behavior and interaction of the components, the signal integrity simulator models the behavior and interaction of the routing. 

The signal integrity simulator allows the designer to:

  • Commence the analysis of the design from the schematic, refining the accuracy as the layer stack and routing information becomes available
  • Identify nets that could have unacceptable levels of reflections (ringing)
  • Predict the potential levels of signal reflection and crosstalk as waveforms
  • Allow what-if analysis of potential termination components and help select suitable termination components 

Learn more about Signal Integrity Analysis


Where to Next?


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The features available depend on your Altium product access level. Compare features included in the various levels of Altium Designer Software Subscription and functionality delivered through applications provided by the Altium 365 platform.

If you don’t see a discussed feature in your software, contact Altium Sales to find out more.