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PI tool for PCB promises accuracy

Posted: 05 Feb 2009 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:power integrity? PCB power? EDA analysis accuracy?

Mentor Graphics Corp. threw its hat in the ring of EDA vendors addressing power integrity in the PCB space, rolling out HyperLynx PI.

HyperLynx PI (power integrity) is billed as easy-to-use and promises accurate analysis of power plane structures. The tool enables teams to design working power delivery systems while reducing design cycle times, prototypes and manufacturing re-spins, as well as product cost, according to Mentor.

David Wiens, a Mentor product marketing manager, acknowledged that some competitors have already offered power integrity tools for PCBs, but said Mentor's offering is more sophisticated and refined. He said the tool would benefit from tight integration with Mentor's established HyperLynx SI signal integrity tool, which Mentor claims owns 45 percent market share. The power integrity problem for PCBs is already served by vendors such as Ansoft, a subsidiary of Ansys LLC.

"It's one of those things where being first to market is not always best, especially in the space where there is a lot of education involved," Wiens said. "We think we really have a differentiated solution that is going to take off like the SI tools did as well."

In fact, the power integrity space is close to what signal integrity was 10 to 15 years ago, when most engineers "just hoped it would work," rather than employ a specific methodology or tools, Wiens said. But this approach has disadvantages, he added, including the need for multiple re-spins on some designs, costing time and money. On the flip side, some products are over designed due to lack of information, costing resources as well, he said.

Tough trade-offs
The intent of HyperLynx PI is to help design engineers who are being forced to make tough design trade-offs on power, Wiens said. Economics are forcing designers to eliminate unnecessary components, use cheaper components, reduce layer count and cut down on prototypes, he noted.

"Engineers want to innovate, but management is saying 'keep it under cost and deliver it on time,'" Wiens said. "You get these cost and design pressures, and they work against an innovative engineer."

"We have advanced users today who are required to design over 30 power delivery structures into a single PCB, driven by the multiple voltage levels and power requirements of their high-performance ICs," said Henry Potts, VP and general manager of Mentor's systems design division.

"The design of these structures requires quick and accurate analysis of both DC power drop and power noise," Potts said. "With accurate analysis, the power and ground plane structures and de-coupling capacitor number, as well as placements, can be determined, thus avoiding over-conservative design and higher product cost."

HyperLynx PI provides pre- and post-layout analysis of irregular power and ground plane structures incorporating the exact IC pin locations and models, according to Mentor. The results of the analysis can be both visual and textual, enabling the designer to quickly identify and resolve power and/or ground plane structure problems, the company said. HyperLynx also provides accurate analysis of the power integrity, enabling the designer to determine the best number, placement and values of de-coupling capacitors, Mentor said.

HyperLynx PI product is available now to select customers with pricing starting at $35,000, according to the company. General release is targeted for later Q1 09, the company said. The product integrates with Mentor's Expedition, Enterprise, PADS and Board Station flows, and third party PCB design solutions such as Allegro and CR 5000, Mentor said.

- Dylan McGrath
EE Times

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