Case Study with Spectrum Integrity


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Case Study with Spectrum Integrity

  1. 1. /0%-()#+120-+,)+#3%),#+#&1%-4+)#0#$%&4+-$5)6#5-,+ !"#$%&()*+%#,&-%.)) Altium Designer Makes Ultra-High-Performance Design Move Faster at Spectrum Integrity Spectrum Integrity designs ultra-high-speed digital, most of the effort of making accurate BOMs. RF, and microwave PCBs which, at 20 to 110 GHz Spectrum Integrity also found it straightforward and beyond, are among the most challenging to customize the Altium Designer environment for applications in industry. Its customer design the intricacies of RF design. “We added strategic, challenges require a proprietary “outside the proprietary improvements to the tool suite to box” process. Yet at the same time, the company make them very powerful and efficient for RF and must interface with industry standard component ultra-high-speed digital design,” says Ingham. To libraries as well as the design review processes of streamline interaction with RF analysis, it exports its clients. board designs in Gerber data into a 3D field solver. To design such esoteric designs, the company relies After completing analysis, Altium Designer reads on a collection of very specialized tools. The native the files back in AutoCAD or DXF format, an easy schematic capabilities in such tools have proved process that retains net intelligence within the completely unusable. Spectrum Integrity had to integrated tool suite. Also, Spectrum Integrity rely instead on a third-party schematic tool that reports that creating custom footprints, with prevented synchronization of layout and schematic non-standard features, is much easier in Altium and no cross-probing capability. The process had Designer than its old tool suites. become too disjointed. Automation within Altium Designer PCB layout Furthermore, there was no free external viewer helps streamline steps within the design process. feature for the board designs, and no simple way For example, the application can apply real-time to export design files. The frequent client reviews updating of split power planes during the course were a tedious and long process. of design, saving manual retouching of those planes during design changes. “With our old tools, The company had tried to streamline the processWe can now use a we would have to manually un-pour and re-pour using PADS, but its schematic capture tool wasmainstream tool for our power planes every time there was a change,” similarly inadequate, and its version control was says Ingham. “The pour feature in Altium saves usultra high-performance missing critical built-in functionality. 75% of our time in this step.”design work, and Spectrum Integrity and its customers needed a Perhaps the biggest efficiency improvementcustomize it so we don’t more integrated design environment that could occurs in data management. The version controlhave restrictions on accommodate the magic of high-speed and RF features are very important to Spectrum Integrity, PCB design.getting creative. because RF designs often require multiple versions stretched across a very extensive review process.Michael Ingham In addition, Altium Designer imports and exportsDirector of Engineering !40%-4+ across many popular formats, and includes a freeSpectrum Integrity design viewer. As Ingham explains, “It’s the nature The company has adopted Altium Designer, and of our designs to produce many versions to share has seen an immediate improvement through and review.” His team has found that even the its advanced features and integration across the relatively simple task of creating PDF check plots design process. has saved considerable process time and prevented “The Altium schematic program is very the need for a third party program. powerful,” explains Michael Ingham, director of engineering at Spectrum Integrity. The design suite synchronizes with major component suppliers 7#50%5 including Digi-Key, Mouser, and Newark, “an unexpected major benefit that has made our Except for two customers using legacy software, component engineering much more efficient.” It Spectrum Integrity now produces all of its designs also embeds component information to automate using Altium Designer. “We can nowFor more information visit
  2. 2. /0%-()#+120-+,)+#3%),#+#&1%-4+)#0#$%&4+-$5)6#5-,+ use a mainstream tool for our ultra high- 8&46$% performance design work, and customize it so we don’t have restrictions on getting creative,” says Spectrum Integrity designs ultra-high-speed Ingham. digital, RF, and microwave PCBs that process Altium Designer’s ease of use and comprehensive signals at frequencies from 20 to 110 GHz and training made adoption quick and painless. “The above. The CAD screenshots show 12- and program was fairly intuitive and we were able 14-layer ultra-high-speed digital applications to be productive after just a few days of study,” successfully designed in Altium Designer. These says Ingham. “Using the numerous available examples have outer layer traces designed to materials and very helpful videos, my engineers support 50GHz signals and multiple inner layer quickly became productive without the need traces designed to support 28GHz. These designs for attending a dedicated training class. They utilized complex geometries, split power planes, were proficient in about half the time it took for transmission lines, and coplanar vias successfully learning PADS.” designed using a combination of Altium Designer and proprietary design techniques. Customer design reviews are much more efficient with Altium Designer due to the design viewer and automated PDF feature. “The ease of review 94("1+. allows customer reviews to be much more efficient and thorough, and it avoids unnecessary Spectrum Integrity is a full-service engineering questions and steps. Our customers are very design service firm and solution provider for pleased.” companies requiring outstanding hardware Finally, Altium Designer has automated the designs for advanced RF, high-speed, and generation of Gerber manufacturing files, which semiconductor test applications. saves time and minimizes manufacturing errors. !"#$%&()*+%#,&-%.)))) ))/0%-():#5-,+#&);1<#5)))) )))))))=0%&1>?-,@>8#&A4&(1+$#) )))):#5-,+);4B#)C15%#&)1%)) )))))))))))!"#$%&()*+%#,&-%. /24%)/0%-( Altium Limited (ASX:ALU) creates electronics design software based on the belief that anyone who wants to create electronic products that make a difference should be able to do so. Altium’s unified electronics design environment links all aspects of electronics product design in a single application that is priced to be as affordable as possible. This helps electronics designers break down barriers to innovation, harness the latest devices and technologies, manage their projects across broad design ecosystems, and create connected, intelligent designs. Founded in 1985, Altium is an Australian company with corporate headquarters in Shanghai, and operates worldwide. For more information, visit Altium, Altium Designer and AltiumLive, and their respective logos, are trademarks or registered trademarks of Altium Limited, or its subsidiaries. All other registered or unregistered trademarks mentioned in this release are the property of their respective owners, and no trademark rights to the same are claimed.For more information visit