The Fantastic Four Make an Appearance at the IPC Designer Council

April 12, 2016 David Marrakchi

Couldn't make it to your last IPC Designer Council meeting? Read about some of the great insights presented during this months meeting including a look into the future of PDN analysis in Altium Designer. how's that?

The Fantastic Four Make an Appearance at the IPC Designer Council

The Fantastic Four made a special appearance at the IPC Designer Council - OC Chapter on Wednesday, March 2, 2016. Not the superheroes, of course, we’re talking about the four fantastic things that every PCB Designer enjoys at a local IPC Designer Council event:

 

      1. New insights, design concepts, and tools for the PCB design industry.

     2. A whole lot of like-minded PCB designers from around the world to network.

     3. A variety of open positions being advertised for those looking for new opportunities.

     4. And of course, lots of free food and real prizes.

 

The council meeting on Wednesday (March 2, 2016) was no different!  The room was packed with more than 70 PCB designers representing a broad spectrum of the industry, from medical to consumer goods, to high-speed digital designs and low-frequency analog applications.

Kicking Things Off

It was mesmerizing being in an environment full of great design practices, know-how, and ideas.  After a quick intro to the IPC organization and the chapter, the main event kicked off with Jeff Loyer at the helm, a Signal & Power Integrity Product Manager from Altium.

 

 

Jeff started off with a question that everyone had a familiar answer to - “How’s your PCBs Power Distribution Network?” I could almost make out a collective sigh amongst the crowd as we all start thinking about just how minimal the IPC-2152 standards were. It’s a well-known fact amongst PCB designers that IPC-2152 is a very conservative approach that still requires the designer to perform manual calculations, and then, of course, move to the next strategy - hope for the best when the board comes back!

 

But Jeff had a pleasant surprise for us - a new, intuitive tool in the Altium Designer unified platform that allowed PCB designers to analyze visually and optimize power and ground features within a PCB design. Considering that many layout engineers, including myself, just throw copper at any IR drop issue involving power distribution, Jeff’s solution looked like an exciting and fresh opportunity to take the guesswork out of the process with some real analysis results.

 

 

The Nuts and Bolts of PDN Analysis in Altium Designer

Here’s how Jeff’s new PDN analysis tool works in a nutshell - you push a button, the analyzer performs all the required calculations, and the PCB designer gets a nice visual overlay to identify any voltage or current issues on a board layout. This offers some benefits to the designer, including:

 

  • Less manual work. PCB designers won’t have to think about complicated math equations, the number of copper shapes, or the number of vias.
  • Accuracy. Designers can simply select source/ground nets, specify load from their circuit and VIOLA, a PCB turned into a canvas of bright colors (where red is high and blue is low - for Voltage or Current).
  • Simplicity. The color difference stands out clearly to give you an immediate answer to where the issue might be. Fix it by widening the trace, adding a via, or change your copper pour shape, and simply check it again.
  •  

 

Wrapping Up

It was great seeing all of the new technology being shown off at this IPC Designer Council event, and I spent some quality time soaking in engineering conversations with many in attendance. I’ll be in attendance at APEX EXPO for a fresh round of reporting and hope to see many familiar faces there!For those that missed out, here’s a link for more details about the presentation and more technical information on the PDN Analyzer tool for Altium Designer. See you next time!

 

About the Author

David Marrakchi

David currently serves as a Sr. Technical Marketing Engineer at Altium and is responsible for managing the development of technical marketing materials for all Altium products. He also works closely with our marketing, sales, and customer support teams to define product strategies including branding, positioning, and messaging. David brings over 15 years of experience in the EDA industry to our team, and he holds an MBA from Colorado State University and a B.S. in Electronics Engineering from Devry Technical Institute.

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