The EDA Technology Roadmap

By paulmusto

We’ve heard other EDA vendors talk about providing broadly published roadmaps and future direction transparency. When I have seen these, they have appeared to be manifesto statements of everything that everyone could ever want in a tool. Which brings me to question how soon vendors can realistically deliver these solutions.

I’m sure all vendors have similar goals, strategies, and roadmaps. However, achieving them is where the true challenge lies. When you scan the various markets that we, the EDA vendors, need to serve, selecting important features to focus on can become daunting.

EDA Technology Roadmap

It is no secret that the main focus in the market today is IoT. In the marketing world, we always talk about “verticals”, like consumer, automotive, etc. However, IoT is really horizontal. In other words, IoT crosses a wide spectrum of markets and is in pretty much everything being designed and built today. In fact, we see that many of our PADS customers work in a broad and vast set of technologies and industries, from individuals to large teams, and at small to large companies.

So, what features do we work on? To decide, we need to truly understand both the overarching technology trends and, more importantly, the users we serve.

Horizontal technology markets, as stated above, crosses nearly all vertical market segments. This means that end users require capabilities in many disciplines, including RF, analog, mixed signal, and high-speed.

Take high-speed, for example. It used to be that only high-speed systems (computing, networking, mil/aero) required detailed analysis and simulation. Well, the fact is that today, there is high-speed in nearly everything we design. In some cases, the components that are being used can only be acquired with faster operating speeds, even if not required for the system.

This brings the topic, and importance, of high-speed to a far greater audience than ever before. While users may not be high-speed experts nor want to be, they are pushed to either simulate and validate their design or risk having it not work…something that can make or break time-to-market goals.

The PADS Roadmap

How does this all relate to the PADS roadmap? We are analyzing how we can bring robust, highly capable, high-speed tools such as Hyperlynx to a community of designers in a manner that is non-obtrusive, easy to setup, and simple to use. Furthermore, we know these tools must provide accurate results that can be validated in the lab.

This may also sound pie-in-the-sky like every other roadmap, but, Mentor has the ability to deliver such a solution. Hyperlynx is already known in the high-speed world as the simplest, most powerful environment for the design engineer and is already part of PADS (Standard Plus and Professional). Our roadmap takes this same technology and extends capabilities even further to deliver capabilities in power aware SI, IR Drop, and comprehensive SI analysis…all within your PADS environment.

Mentor has the ability to anticipate future needs and deliver powerful technology to meet those needs. Users may not have had to deal with these in the past but should anticipate that, as complexity increases and their needs expand, they will need a tool that can grow with them.

Another example is thermal. In cases such as miniaturization and wearables, thermal has become a larger concern.

PADS solutions contain Hyperlynx Thermal for quick “what-if” trade-offs. However, Mentor also has, as part of its broad technology portfolio, FloTHERM which has set the industry standard for systems level thermal analysis. In the past, this tool was primarily used by thermal experts. Later this year, it will be available in a PADS package! Right from within your PADS cockpit, you will be able to extract a design into FloTHERM, analyze, and quickly get results that will enable real-time design decisions.

Other examples of upcoming technology include FPGA synthesis and optimization, system-level analog and mixed-signal analysis, industry-leading manufacturing analysis through Valor, and even mainstream IC design capabilities with our recently acquired Tanner EDA technology.

Most designers start with the standard capabilities of design entry and PCB layout and we know that PADS must provide the best solution possible for those challenges as well.

Later this year, we will introduce a leap frog 3D/2D co-design capability along with new capabilities that improve user productivity. Still to come? A steady stream set of enhancements in six month intervals to address all the needs of designers working on rigid-flex, micro-via, mixed signal, and high-speed PCB designs.

Pulling this all back to the topic of roadmaps, we need to take a holistic view of our industry and end users, understand the changing world in which they are designing, and anticipate new challenges that will arise in getting their product successfully designed, simulated, validated, and to manufacturing in the fastest means possible.

When we analyze what that means to PADS, we are confident that we are in a position to deliver the industry best solution. Anyone can tell you what the world needs but who can really deliver? And do it in a way that delivers best-in-class technology that’s highly-integrated and easy to use? Even if they can, the world doesn’t need a solution years from now…we need one today.


3 thoughts about “The EDA Technology Roadmap
  • In addition to keeping up with design and technology trends, I wish the conversation regarding the PADs roadmap included how Mentor Graphics will make the existing products and technology more robust and better integrated. PADs consists of 3 pieces of software- xDXdesigner, Layout, Router – that feel like three different non-cohesive products that use different terminology for design elements, and at times work with properties in disparate ways. The integration of these three pieces of software could be greatly improved upon, and in doing so would make it a far better product.

  • Hi Paul,
    Welcome to the Mentor family. I’m certain you will be a great addition.
    I also wish to provide a few comments and/or feedback, however way you may wish to receive them. First I’d like to give perspective as I’m a user who uses the schematic side of the tool sets, deal with the libraries, and utilize the layout tool in my day to day job. I’ve been using PADS since 2001 when it still used to be Innoveda. I’ve added in the DxDatabook and DxDesigner when we switched from Orcad Capture CIS back in 2006. Our designs range from the mundane (double-sided) to the high layer count (20+). Prior to that I’ve used Board Station, Protel, and Orcad Layout.
    First comment: I understand a lot of new features towards the interconnectivity of PADS and DxDesigner have been added (e.g integrated design, common constraint management, design archiving), which is good. But to be honest, I don’t feel that there really has been much added to PADS Layout or PADS Router in the way of major additional features (e.g. sketch routing). It has really been ignored with almost nothing being added since PADS 2007.2. By this I mean that I could switch back to PADS 2007.2 and not really lose any real capability. Yes there are new plug-ins, but most of them point to additional tools often requiring further licenses (e.g. hyperlynx, EDM collaboration, DFM Analysis).
    Second comment: PADS Professional…. it’s really ‘Expedition Lite’, call it what it is. Calling it PADS is really a misnomer and very misleading. Any of the tool knowledge that has been learned by using PADS for all these years is not portable to this new tool. On top of that it seems that all the new features that are being added are to PADS Professional with the standard PADS products languishing. And to boot, PADS Professional is a separate license that needs to be purchased. For those of us who have put money for support, this seems like a bad ROI.
    Third Comment: Having had DxDatabook set up for years with several thousand parts, and now seeing Integrated Library come out, I thought this would be a vast improvement and looked into using it. But there seems to be little integration between DxDatabook and the Central library, meaning both have to be managed separately which creates additional work beyond what is required for just DxDatabook and separate libraries (PADS/DXD). In order to make use of the integrated Library, I’d have to basically create a whole new central library, and that’s even with importing the symbols from both tools (DxDatabook doesn’t load into the central lib correctly, but doesn’t state why). But in short, it seems that those of use with well-developed libraries may be not benefit from the central library unless we want to build it from scratch which means spending a lot of time and effort putting them together.
    Forth Comment: I have been impressed with the improvements to DxDesigner, it is a far better tool than what was available when I first switched in 2007. I had been hoping some of this improved GUI efforts would have come to PADS, but it seems to be more driven from the Expedition side of the house.
    In short, I feel that a lot of money for support and maintenance has been provided over many years, but the return on investment seen in this tool hasn’t kept up with its competitor’s capabilities. And on top of that, it seems to get the new features sets are being put into a new PADS tool (e.g. PADS Professional) or obtained through additional licenses (e.g. Hyperlynx, EDM collaboration). At this time if I were going to move to a new tool, instead of PADS professional I’d be more inclined to look at Altium or Cadence Allegro. And unfortunately I know many other users that have or are also looking to do so.
    If you have any question or comments, please feel free to contact me.
    Jeffrey A. Jenkins, CID+/CIT
    Sr. PCB Staff Designer
    L-3 Communications, Linkabit Division

  • I completely agree on all points and this will be an on-going priority for our next few releases. Since joining Mentor, I have received many similar comments from other users. With XDx Designer, our next 2 releases for later this year and mid next year will focus on many ease of use, UI, and integration improvements. We are also going to be looking at all of the tools that make up the PADS flow to ensure that the use models are consistent (as possible) and the integration is seamless. We are looking into the integration of Router and Layout and plans will be forthcoming. Thanks much for the comments…they are spot on.

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This article first appeared on the Siemens Digital Industries Software blog at