Borrowing concepts from IC design, Cadence Design Systems this week (March 26) is introducing the Global Route Environment Technology for its Allegro pc-board design system. It combines a graphical interconnect flow planning tool with a hierarchically-aware "global" router.
The new technology, according to Cadence, makes it possible to automatically route complex pc-board interconnects that until now could not be autorouted. It claims a significant design cycle time reduction for boards that make intensive use of interconnect. For now, Cadence is introducing the technology only, with a product announcement expected to follow in May.
"This is a new method for planning and routing complex PCBs," said Josh Moore, senior product manager at Cadence. "It captures the user's design intent to quickly solve interconnect challenges." Until now, Moore said, pc-board designers have had no automated way to communicate design intent. They can't, for example, communicate that a bus should be routed as a single entity, so they have to hand route it, Moore said.
With the new technology, design intent is defined through a graphical interconnect flow planning capability. Router-driven feedback helps designers plan the best interconnect schemes possible. It's akin to the concept of floorplanning in IC design, said Paul Musco, R&D director at Cadence. "It's the guidance tool that communicates all the design intent to the global router," he said.
"Never before has global routing been applied to the PCB space," Musco said. "It uses some of the same fundamental concepts that are used at the IC level, although the algorithms are optimized and tuned to deal with a PCB type structure." The router claims to take a global view of the design, run an analysis, consider all available space on the board, take spatial relationships into account, and use the designer's intent to route the interconnect.
The global router finishes the complete routing job, Moore noted. Designers would use that instead of the current Allegro PCB router, which is intended for "random logic" type applications, Moore said. The new global routing technology is aimed at boards dominated by heavy use of interconnect.
The new technology will be demonstrated at this week's PCB Design Conference West.