Switching from OrCAD to Altium Designer
Altium Designer® Evaluation Guide for OrCAD Users®
When designing electronics, productivity and performance are two of your foremost concerns. Immovable time to market deadlines makes eﬃciency a must, as you work hard to create precise layouts and exact ﬁttings, for the optimum performance. To achieve both quality and eﬃciency, you can’t aﬀord not to invest in a complete PCB design platform. Altium Designer® combines exhaustive scientiﬁc knowledge with a natural design intuition to create a single, uniﬁed design environment. It can meet all of your design challenges, with a proven track record of delivering the features you need in free PCB software in the timeframe you’ve been given.
TOPICS IN THIS SOLUTION
WHAT IS GETTING IN THE WAY OF YOUR NEXT MASTERPIECE?
There are any number of problems that can hinder your PCB design. Maybe you ﬁnd you’re constantly falling short of meeting the minimum design or layout speciﬁcations within the current design environment. Maybe you’ve missed some of your release dates or exceeded your product cost targets. You have the expertise to design the perfect board, but for some reason, you’re still unable to achieve your feature elegance targets. It’s not just you, either. Your entire design team is experiencing similar problems and have been for years. So now, you’ve ﬁnally decided, it’s time for a change.
Altium Unified PCB Design
PCB products are rapidly increasing in complexity, with larger circuits but decreasing overall board sizes. As things continue down this path, you can no longer accept the inability to meet your goals as a normal part of the job. There has to be a solution. What’s more, it needs to be a complete solution: feature-rich products, product diﬀerentiation, real-time connection to your supply chain, eﬀective design data management, reuse, change order management, an easy-to-use import wizard that makes it easy to import Orcad® to Altium, and eﬃcient collaboration across the entire ECAD-MCAD design process. How can you achieve all of this? Let’s take a closer look at the solutions that Altium Designer provides.
No matter what Cadance® product you were using, be it OrCAD® PCB Designer Standard, Professional, or an upscaled Allegro® PCB Designer, you’ll ﬁnd it well-suited to meet all of your circuit design challenges. With our world-class research and development team, the Altium goal has always been to produce best-in-class software for every PCB designer.
A uniﬁed environment for your design, data and release management processes
Altium Designer is an all-in-one product that provides a uniﬁed 3D PCB design environment that’s easy to learn and use. You have the features you need at your ﬁngertips to make key decisions early in the design process. You can perform tasks more eﬃciently and implement checks and balances throughout the process to keep everything in check. Altium Designer also interfaces seamlessly with third party analysis, synthesis and 3D mechanical software.
Unified PCB Design Environment
With Altium Designer advanced supply chain management system, you have real-time visibility into both your internal and external supply chain data, as well as access to all available information about sourced components. This means, rather than including PCB manufacturing parts that turn out later to be unavailable or cost-prohibitive, you can make more intelligent part choices earlier in the process, reducing the likelihood of costly and time-consuming rework late in the design cycle.
PCB Designer Dashboard
Components, design speciﬁcations, documentation, and revisions are all stored in a central repository. You can attach native built-in or external version control capabilities within the system, to keep track of everything your engineers have been doing and graphically and logically verify the work. You then synchronize data and PCB files and use the built-in ECO capabilities to ensure that your entire team will automatically see changes and work oﬀ of the most up-to-date ﬁles and information available.
To conﬁgure and save your publication outputs in a central location, use the Altium Designer OutputJob Editor. You can publish selected file outputs to PDF, print or generate ﬁles and add them to your project. The same Outjob can have any number of publications conﬁgured, ready for reuse everytime you update your project.
Altium Designer Release Management
Altium Designer also has a release management capability that provides checks and balances for your entire PCB design process, allowing you to search for and release accurate output data on your designs. In addition, you will have a visual representation of your project history, so you can go back at any point to retrieve, modify, and re-release your designs quickly and easily. This accelerates the design process and eliminates the need to reproduce data and documentation. An extensive design reuse capability reduces errors and re-spins by using previously validated and proven designs.
All Altium Designer features are presented within one modern user interface (UI). Whichever aspects of the design process you’re responsible for, a consistent selection and editing paradigm allows you to move quickly between design tasks. The context sensitive UI changes when you switch from one aspect of the process, schematic library, or document to another, to provide you with the most relevant and intuitive selections. If you focus on one element of the design process, the UI can be conﬁgured to match your preferences. The consistent look & feel allows you to become proﬁcient quickly, as you take on additional design tasks.
Whether you are using standard Orcad® libraries, CIP, CIS, or PartLink, you will feel right at home using Altium Designer to bridge the gap between library components and supplier data. You might even be surprised at just how easy it is to move from Orcad® to Altium.
When it comes to providing a complete solution for the PCB design, development, and production process, Altium Designer has proven to be the leading PCB design platform. One of the fundamental aspects of the process includes a close connection to supply chain and real-time component management.
Altium Content Vault
Altium Designer provides a live supplier search engine from which you can search across multiple distributors and add links directly to your schematic components. In order to optimize the process, you then automatically verify part numbers for every component in your Bill of Materials (BoM) and receive real-time pricing and availability information with an advanced BoM Tool.
You can also place components directly from the Altium Content Vault into your design. The Altium Content Vault is a cloud-based source with a wealth of design content, including access to template designs and thousands of uniﬁed components, to help streamline your circuit board design process. The Uniﬁed Component incorporates supply chain information with links to suppliers, quantities, and pricing, which can then be included on your BoM in real time.
Additionally, Altium Designer includes Ciiva SmartParts™ Search. Ciiva is an online parametric search engine that provides instant access to information, including real-time pricing and availability, second sources, and lifecycle states for tens of millions of components. Documentation, including datasheets and application notes, can also be accessed with a single click, with direct links to supplier websites.
Altium Designer schematic capture technology has been long recognized as a technology diﬀerentiator. Engineers and designers alike ﬁnd that the Altium Designer schematic features are easy to learn, vastly improving productivity on all designs, from relatively simple single-sheet schematics to complex multi-sheet hierarchical projects. Starting a schematic is fast and easy with intuitive dialogs, e.g., editing workspace and establishing sheet design parameters, preferences and associated documents. This allows you to manage versions immediately. You can quickly select and place qualiﬁed components from integrated libraries and real-time links to component suppliers. Wiring, bus creation, and net labeling are all incredibly fast.
Altium PCB Board Design Component Design
A key feature of Altium Designer is the intuitive method of setting component classes, net classes, and placement rooms. When the design is transferred to the PCB, this information can then be generated automatically - a signiﬁcant beneﬁt of creating a well-structured, hierarchical design up-front. Using this feature, you can compile your project eﬃciently and check to ensure that circuits are drawn and wired correctly. Altium Designer also provides powerful ECO features, to let you transfer a captured design to a new PCB, make changes to an existing design on either the schematic or PCB, synchronize the schematic and board, and compare and resolve any diﬀerences.
An organized and eﬃcient placement is critical to your PCB. Dynamically place and drag components that push, avoid, and snap-to alignment with other components on your board layout. Features exist to allow you to align multiple components easily. One diﬀerentiating feature is the PCB Editor ability to mask or ﬁlter objects in the workspace. This will fade everything in your panel except the objects of interest. When you select a net name in the panel, the workspace display will change, zoom- ing to show the nodes in the net and fading out everything except the pads and connection lines in the net. As an alternative to masking, you can also completely hide one, several, or all of the connection lines. Interactive routing includes an auto-complete feature that will speed you to routing complete. Another key feature of Altium Designer is the Layer Stack Manager in which routing layers, also referred to as signal layers, are set up. The display of all layers, and the addition of mechanical layers, is controlled in the View Conﬁgurations dialog.
PCB RULES AND CONSTRAINTS IN ALTIUM DESIGNER
True to its uniﬁed and easy-to-use nature, Altium Designer provides you with a streamlined PCB Rules and Constraints Editor. In one editor, you can browse, create, prioritize, deﬁne scope, edit, duplicate, and delete rules. You can also export a rule tem- plate for reuse. Rules are divided into a manageable number of categories. Within the editor, rule types are deﬁned and their attributes assigned. Rules are organized hierarchically and viewed in a tree. A report feature provides a table-based summary for a straightforward review.
Altium Unified PCB Design
When evaluating, note that a rule scope is a query that you build, in order to deﬁne all the member objects that are governed by that rule. Scoping allows you to decide exactly what a rule’s precedence will be and how it will be applied to target objects through a query. You can even deﬁne multiple rules of the same type, each targeting a diﬀerent object. Queries are easy to access for any rule. Advanced Query options are also available to help you write your own, more complex queries.
In addition to scoping, there is also a user-deﬁned priority setting. The combination of rule scoping and priority is very powerful and gives you an unprecedented level of control. This allows you to target the design rules for your board precisely. Finally, a new rule can also be created using the New Rule Wizard. The wizard will guide you step-by-step in creating the rules, scope, and priority.
Powerful Altium Designer routing technology includes diﬀerential pair routing, visualization of allowable routing areas, length tuning, deﬁnable rule areas for dynamic routing adjustment, adding/removing teardrops, DDR3/4 and USB-3 xSignal length wizard, adding/removing via stitching and shielding, copy routing and placement for repeated circuitry, creating panelized boards with corresponding fabrication data, and more. Plus, you can easily save, share, and reuse your most trusted design assets with managed schematic sheets and snippets for design reuse. You can gain even greater control over your clearance checking with enhanced testpoint clearance checks between testpoints, through-hole pads, and inter testpoint spacing. And solder mask expansions provide even more precision, with user-deﬁnable expansion options from hole edge or pad edge.
3D Rigid-Flex Design
A signiﬁcant diﬀerentiator, Altium Designer supports 3D rigid-ﬂex design. With this feature, you can easily deﬁne material selections and intelligently route your rigid-ﬂex board layout, then dynamically visualize your engineering work of art in native 3D, to make sure that the folding/folded board does not create violations in real time.
Altium Designer is continually adding more powerful and diﬀerentiating placement and routing features. These features will increase your productivity, streamline your core PCB design tasks, and reduce your time to market. See Altium Designer product website for examples of the many beneﬁts you can reap and the new features you can explore: http://www.altium.com/altium-designer/whats-new.
Altium Designer was the ﬁrst PCB design product to provide true ECAD/MCAD collaboration with native 3D editing features, to visualize, compare, merge, track, and comment on design changes. It seamlessly integrates electrical and mechanical design data into your workﬂow, providing designers with real-time visibility into incremental changes. This allows the electrical and mechanical engineering work to be done simultaneously and in parallel. You can represent your component footprints with extruded body, Step, SolidWorks, or Parasolid models. You can visualize exactly how your board will ﬁt your mechanical enclosure and ﬁx any collision errors in seconds. And you can perform real-time clearance checking for components and mechanical enclosures, and generate folded STEP models.
A new, powerful, automated PCB production document tool is available directly within Altium Designer, Draftsman®. It automates the creation of tables, PCB design views, layer legend, and details. The drawing document is linked to the source PCB document so they are always accurate and in sync.
Looking for more information about switching from ORCAD to Altium Designer? Reach out to our support team, or call our toll free phone number at 1-800-488-0681 today.