What's New in Altium Designer
- Altium Designer 16.0
- Strengthened Support for High-Speed Design
- Technology Aware xSignals Wizard
- Managing Pin-Package Delays
- Change Target Lengths During Length Tuning
- Differential Pair Routing Improvements
- Simplified Design Specification and Verification
- Design Rules Enhancements
- Enhanced Violation Reporting
- Improvements to Same Net Clearance Rule
- Better Feedback During Interactive Design
- Dynamic Display of Clearance Boundaries During Routing
- Smart Component Placement
- Easily Create Accurate 3D Models and then Show Off your Completed Design in 3D, in a PDF
- 3D STEP Model Generation in IPC Wizard
- Enhancements to PDF 3D Export
- Multiple Variations of Your Multi-Channel Product
- Multi-Channel Support for Variants
- Stronger Output Generation
- Adding Tolerance to Holes
- Alternative Components in the BOM
- Panelization - Embedded Board Array Enhancements
- PCB Printout Improvements
- Support for Zipping ODB++ Output in TGZ format
- PADS Logic Exporter Extension
- A Better Design Space
- Net Color Synchronization
- Single 'Master' Control to Work Offline
- Static Simulation Probes
- Product Improvement Program
- Excel Compatible Tabulation Option for Constraint Files
- Additional Enhancements and Improvements
Altium Designer 16.0
Released: 10 November 2015
Version: 16.0.5 (build 271)
This new Altium Designer release continues to deliver new features as well as enhancements to the software's core technologies, while also addressing many issues raised by customers through the AltiumLive Community's BugCrunch system. Along with delivering a range of new and exciting features that develop and mature the existing technologies – it also incorporates a large number of fixes and enhancements across the software as a whole, helping designers continue to create cutting-edge electronics technology.
Strengthened Support for High-Speed Design
Designs with high speed signals are becoming more and more common, driven by both improvements in device technology and the ongoing demand for better product performance. Acknowledging the growing need for strong support for high speed design, Altium Designer 16 brings a number of important improvements to the definition and routing of high speed signals.
In Altium Designer, a signal path that includes multiple nets and series components can be defined as an extended Signal, called an xSignal, which can then be targeted by high speed design rules. The signal delay created by the devices themselves, often referred to as the pin/package delay, can now be accounted for in the overall xSignal length. The intelligent xSignals wizard, which can quickly detect and define a large number of xSignals under user-guidance, sees the introduction of heuristics to support xSignal creation for the DDR3/DDR4 interface standard, with support for other interface types in the pipeline. Improvements to differential pair length tuning also allows faster and more accurate between-pair and within-pair length matching.
Simplified Design Specification and Verification
Design rules are the backbone of the board design process. Altium Designer is well regarded for its powerful and highly configurable rule scoping system. Acknowledging that the bulk of the rules that the designer needs to define follow consistent requirements - such as applying to this net class, on that layer - the rule scoping system has been greatly simplified. While the powerful, keyword-driven scoping system remains available, Altium Designer 16 sees the introduction of a carefully selected range of dropdown options for each rule type. And at the other end of the design process, rule checking has also been simplified with a number of improvements to the PCB Rules and Violations panel, bringing it to the center of the rule violation analysis and resolution process.
Better Feedback During Interactive Design
Printed circuit design is a complex, highly detailed, and iterative process. Component placement options must be continually evaluated and adjusted, and this may need to continue throughout the routing process. All of this happens within the boundaries of the design rules. Helping the designer understand their options during this process, Altium Designer 16 sees the introduction of dynamic display features that give immediate visual feedback about the space available for the component or route that is currently being worked on.
Easily Create Accurate 3D Models and then Show Off your Completed Design in 3D, in a PDF
Offering what is considered by many to be the best-in-class 3 dimensional PCB design platform available today, Altium Designer 16 builds on its outstanding 3D design capabilities. As well as realistic 3D visualization for presentation and image generation, the PCB editor also supports importing a mechanical enclosure so you can perform accurate 3D interference checking – all before a single board is made. To achieve these, you need an accurate 3D model for every component on the board, and to help with that, Altium Designer 16 sees the introduction of automatic 3D STEP model generation in its IPC Component Wizard. Now you can not only quickly and easily build component footprints that comply with the IPC standards, you can also create an accurate 3D STEP model of that component too. In Altium Designer 16 you can also include a 3D rendering of the loaded board in a PDF file, now anyone using the free Acrobat Reader can easily rotate and turn, as they examine your carefully crafted masterpiece.
Multiple Variations of Your Multi-Channel Product
It is not uncommon for a design to include repeated sections of circuitry, it might be 2 channels or it might be 200 channels. Support for this has been a long-standing strength of Altium Designer, referred to as multi-channel design. For you as the designer you simply reference the repeated section of circuitry the required number of times, and the software includes a number of features to help you repeat-out the placement and routing of those channels on the board. The design never needs to be flattened out though, so you are free to modify and update it throughout the design process. Another popular feature of Altium Designer is its support for variants, where a single design can be populated in different ways, allowing you to create multiple, finished products. In Altium Designer 16 these powerful features come together, with the introduction of support for variations of your multi-channel designs.
Stronger Output Generation
Designs are becoming both smaller and more complex, placing higher demands on the fabrication and assembly processes. To help with this, new output standards are being developed, and existing ones improved. Keeping pace with this, recent releases of Altium Designer have seen the introduction of new output standards, such as IPC-2581 and Gerber X2. Altium Designer 16 continues to improve its output generation capabilities with features to improve the accuracy and flexibility of its outputs, such as + and – hole tolerances, designer-selected alternative components in the BOM, simplified board panelization, and more.
A Better Design Space
As a designer who spends a lot of time driving Altium Designer, no one knows better than you how important it is to have an efficient design flow. With ease-of-use as one of its most recommended capabilities, Altium Designer 16 builds on this with a range of improvements. Applying color to schematic nets enhances the read-ability of the design, these assignments are now applied to the net across the all sheets in the design. Performing a SPICE simulation has become a lot easier, with the introduction of easy-to-use simulation probes. Altium Designer has access to a range of online services, such as online licensing and supplier component data, in Altium Designer 16 the configuration of the various network-related features has been simplified. Read on to learn more about the other improvements that help build a better design space in Altium Designer.
Excel Compatible Tabulation Option for Constraint Files
FPGA constraint files can now be saved in a tabulated format which is compatible with Excel spreadsheets, making it easy to view and manage pin assignments.
Additional Enhancements and Improvements
Each update to Altium Designer also includes a broad range of small features to help improve the overall design experience.
To highlight a few of these improvements:
- Schematic ECO processing time has been substantially reduced,
- Stacked vias and a via-over-a-pad can now be moved as single entity, and
- Mutliple PCB special strings can now be defined within a single string, by enclosing each within single quotes.