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New solution enables multiple designers to work simultaneously from a single database

Posted: 04 Nov 2004 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:mentor graphics? xtremepcb? pcb design solution?

Mentor Graphics Corp. announced the first product in a series of PCB design solutions using a technology that allows multiple members of a PCB design team to work simultaneously on a design from a single database on a global network, whether they are in the same office or dispersed all over the world.

XtremePCB, the first product to use the new Mentor Graphics patented technology, addresses the layout portion of the design flow. It allows electronic companies to reduce their design cycle time, enabling them to meet today's accelerated time-to-market demands.

"Previous design collaboration methodologies required lengthy and error prone sessions to resynchronize parallel efforts of PCB design," shared Henry Potts, VP and GM for Mentor's System Design Division. "With XtremePCB, Mentor has answered a challenge posed by our customers who asked for a tool that allowed simultaneous changes from multiple team members.

For our customers with aggressive time-to-market goals and either large, global design teams or technology specialized design resources, XtremePCB enables real-time, automated feedback for complex, PCB designs incorporating diverse design technologies," Potts added.

Farewell to 'split and join' approach

Previous team design methods utilize a "split and join" approach in which designers work concurrently on the PCB, but in their own pre-defined partition and without the ability to view each other's edits in real-time, the company explained. Even a simple design change made in a single partition could affect the entire board and cause the design to first be re-assembled and then re-partitioned before the team can continue. As a result, engineering change orders (ECOs) become an all too frequent liability, occurring many times throughout the design process.

According to Mentor, the XtremePCB overcomes these limitations by allowing every designer to work on the entire board if desired, making partitioning unnecessary. The design is first loaded on the server and when a user joins the session, the most current state of the design is automatically downloaded onto the user's workstation, allowing them to utilize the full processing power of their machine. When a user joins a design session, a "handle" is defined which may be displayed attached to the cursor for designer identification purposes.

Synchronization is done automatically and each designer can see all other edits in real-time. The session server provides a methodology to protect users from timing collisions and edit conflicts through selection priority and design rule checking (DRC).

Additionally, team members may temporarily lock down objects by creating protected areas, use standard networking methods to verbally interact with team members via headsets, or display "force fields" around the cursor indicating where each designer is working. When a significant change to the design is made that affects the other Xtreme clients, a notification is sent to all the other clients allowing them to accept or reject the change.

XtremePCB is available immediately as an optional add-on to Board Station RE or Expedition. Pricing starts at $50,000 for the Xtreme Session server and pricing for each XtremePCB client seat starts at $15,000 per license.





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