Nexar & Altium 365: Reinventing the Business of Electronics - AltiumLive 2022

Lawrence Romine
|  Erstellt: February 3, 2022  |  Aktualisiert am: September 9, 2022

It is fairly common to find multiple on-board sources of energy causing EMI on today's portable, mobile, and IoT devices. The EMI from these energy sources can couple and often interfere with the receiver performance of cellular, GPS, and other wireless modules. This presentation describes methods for identifying, characterizing, and reducing the coupling from these energy sources.

Highlights:

  • How Altium 365 Works 
  • Changes to routine capabilities
  • Expanded capabilities in the platform and new improvements
  • Use of multifunction pin capability
  • Collaboration on Altium 365

Additional Resources:

Learn more about Altium 365
Learn more about Altium Nexar
Connect with Chris Church on LinkedIn
Connect with Lawrence Romine on LinkedIn
Connect with Leigh Gawne on LinkedIn 

Transcript:

Lawrence Romine:

All right. Welcome. Welcome to the official first keynote of Altium Live 2022. My name is Lawrence Romine. And with me, as usual, for this keynote, is Leigh Gawne. And I'd like to bring Leigh Gawne on. Welcome to the show, Leigh.

Leigh Gawne:

Thank you, Lawrence. Hello, good to see you today. And good to be back for, I think this is my third or possibly fourth, Altium Live now.

Lawrence Romine:

Well, I think, Leigh, it feels as though... We've done some version of this, probably five or six times, in some part of the world or another over the years.

Leigh Gawne:

That's true.

Lawrence Romine:

This year, however, you are coming to us with a slightly different title, correct?

Leigh Gawne:

I am indeed, yes. I'm coming to you with my Chief Technology Officer title, actually. Yes, I believe I was in the Chief Software Architect position this time last year or just before. So, indeed.

Lawrence Romine:

Well, congratulations. I'm for one and I think most of us here at Altium are very pleased to have seen you get that promotion. It's certainly earned. Now, Leigh, what have you been up to? I know we haven't really done this officially since October of the previous year, of Altium Live 2020. What have you been up to? What has Altium been up to?

Leigh Gawne:

We've been up to a lot, a lot of stuff. And I think this 90 minute keynote that we got today is going to reveal a lot of the things that have been going on the last, I guess, 15, 16 months, since that keynote. There's been a lot of work in around Altium 365, the cloud platform, huge amount of stuff been going on there. We'll talk and look at a little bit of that today. Altium Designer, clearly as well, been a lot going on development wise there. And we've also got our new Nexar Ecosystem platform that we've been working on over the last year, that we're going to give a bit of an intro to. So, Altium, yeah, just generally in R and D, I guess some product the last 15 months, like I say, has just been extremely busy. There's been a lot of good stuff going on, customers, users embracing platform, embracing tool, more requests for things more than ever, more usage than ever, going on with our tools and our platform. So, it's a very vibrant, good time in the company today.

Lawrence Romine:

Yeah, so on that note, actually, Leigh, we talk about the number of users. It's interesting, last year when we did this keynote, I remember when we were practicing it. You had said something to me that I actually used, when I spoke, which was being a leader means taking people somewhere where they may not want to go, but once they're there, they can't imagine going back.

Leigh Gawne:

Yes.

Lawrence Romine:

And maybe if you could talk a little bit about where we are today with the adoption of Altium 365, because I think it's, well, I know it's impressive. And I want to share that with the audience. So, if you could talk a little bit about that.

Leigh Gawne:

Yeah, absolutely. So, we launched Altium 365 back in May of 2020, which was pretty much getting into the peak of the pandemic at that point in time. In fact, we brought the launch forward because of it. So, we're now in a situation where I think we're about probably 18 months down the line from that, Lawrence, a bit further down now. And if we look at the growth and adoption of the platform, it's really phenomenal. Today, we are looking at north of 17,000 monthly active users on the platform. That's people that are coming in, that they're using it for design, for collaboration, work, et cetera. And I think we are just over 7,000 active companies that are on the platform. They're actually relying on it for their day to day business. So, it's grown very, very strongly. I think I could even say, probably, beyond our initial expectations for where we thought it would be.

And the trajectory is the interesting thing, Lawrence, because it continues to accelerate. If you look at the people that are coming to the platform and using it today, it's also not just the design engineers. We are attracting other stakeholders in that value chain, people that may be working in the embedded software area, people that might be on the procurement side of things and people that are further downstream as well, maybe even in the manufacturing space. So, we're seeing a lot of adoption, a lot of growth. And with that, a lot of change, really, I think in the way that that people are approaching the design and realization of electronics. So, certainly from my perspective, just to watch what's going on and seeing what our customers are doing with it. It's pretty humbling and pretty amazing, to be fair.

Lawrence Romine:

Yeah. I wouldn't disagree with you, Leigh. I think, and look, I talk to a lot of customers in my role here in marketing. And I think the thing that I hear the most that resonates the most is the sort of the naturalness, if I could use that word, the naturalness of what Actium 365 brings to the table. In other words, it really doesn't require people to do anything different. And it becomes, really, just a natural extension of how they're already working today. And so maybe...

Leigh Gawne:

Absolutely, the case launch, it's 365 is woven into the fabric of say Altium Designer today. It just makes it so easy for people to start to pick and choose what they'd like to use inside that platform, to focus on solving the most immediate problems they might have, whether that's collaboration, or a project to share something with someone further downstream, whether it's library management, for instance, or whatever that might be. It's there for them. And as you say, there's no kind of big step change or learning curve or having to completely upend your process or in the way that you're working to do it. You can take a little bit and then grow and keep going from there. That's what we see, people continue to expand. They might start off with one thing, solving one particular use case, and then expand into more and more from there. So, it's really interesting.

Lawrence Romine:

I think there's a lot of credit to be given to your team, Leigh, in that it's not overcooked. I think that, as engineers, it becomes very easy to over design something, but I can't stress enough how impressed I am with just how elegant out Altium 365 really is. And with that, maybe, Leigh, perhaps you want to sort of talk us through or walk us through some of the highlights, as you see them, in Actium 365 today.

Leigh Gawne:

Yeah, sure. So, let me give you a little bit of, I guess, of a summary of some of the things that we're going to go through, certainly from the Actium 365 perspective and Actium Designer perspective. We've expanded a lot of the capability that's in the platform. So, we've started to introduce things like task system with Kaban boards. We've got Project History, Schematic, Compare that's now inside the platform. We've got some really nice new capability is around the Bill of Materials, Bond Management in there. Library Health, another key area that we've done a lot of work in and Layer Stack has also now come to the web. Further downstream, we've got some improvements coming up around Draftsman and things like this there. So, there's a plethora of stuff, basically, that's been evolving over the last 12, 15 months since we last took the [inaudible 00:07:19] out and showed the platform then.

So, today we're going to go through a bit of use case. So, it's going to put those features and capabilities in context and really show people how those capabilities can help with their kind of day to day work that they go through. We're going to touch a bit on Altium Designer as well, because, clearly, there's still a huge amount of investment work going on to the authoring tool. The Altium Designer and Altium 365, it's really the combination of those things that enable our customers to do the things that they can do today. Our release cycle for Altium Designer, is taking the cadence up a notch, Lawrence. We pretty much do monthly releases in and around that now. So, we don't necessarily wait six months or a year for a big bang to actually roll something out. If we've got something ready, we've been working on it, we want to get it to customers. We want to enable them with that capability as soon as possible. So, you're going to see a faster cadence around that, as well, as we move forward.

Lawrence Romine:

Yep. That's an excellent point actually. And I... Look, again, buyers' viewpoint, I think everybody realizes that. But I've been with Altium a long, long time and over that, well, 17 years now, and I started as just a person selling the product to the engineers, but I challenge anyone in the industry to match our development cycle and the amount of investment we make in our product and certainly in the PCB specific side of the products is really just industry leading. And to your point, we have now moved that to even a more aggressive cycle where you can now see a monthly capability enhancements and, dare I say, bug fixing in coming to the market, which I know you're going to talk a little bit about, as well. So with that, Leigh, do you want to jump in and show us a couple of things?

Leigh Gawne:

Yeah. Let's crack on with it Lawrence. So, first of all, we're going to take a little bit of a look into the reuse blocks. This is a feature that has been requested for quite some time now. Certainly something that back in my days, I would've been very, very grateful for. And essentially the reuse block side of things is allowing us to encapsulate a bit of circuitry, on the schematic side, but now also on the layout side as well.

Lawrence Romine:

Oh really? Okay.

Leigh Gawne:

So, we can encapsulate that bit of circuitry. And it means that, essentially, it's much easier for us to reuse things. Before, Lawrence, you'd have to, if you were... I can show you, actually, let's just open this, it's much easier to see it. So, I'm going to go ahead and open this design, it's called NFC mini lock. And on here, you will see that I've got a schematic sheet called PWM high side drivers. And in here you'll immediately see that I've basically got, effectively, a bit of circuitry that repeats itself, right?

Lawrence Romine:

Sure.

Leigh Gawne:

So in here, these are high side drivers. One of them is configured slightly different to the other, as a master. But generally speaking, when I did this schematic, I had to drag this on, four times, wire everything up and place it. And so, from a productivity perspective, it's just repeating yourself. It's repetitive. Now, with the reuse blocks that we've got in place, what I can actually go and do, it's very easy to use this. We can just come in here and go, file, new. And then you've got this reuse block. We can basically copy and paste out of this schematic into that reuse block, a bit of circuitry. So, you'll see here, it's just going to open up. It's just creating the reuse block. By the way, this is also connected into 365. So, the really nice thing about this is that when we create this reuse block, it's basically, sitting on the cloud. It also means that it's very reusable, not only by myself, but for other people. So, the whole collaboration side of things.

Lawrence Romine:

That's an excellent point, Leigh. I was going to actually, I'm glad you brought that. I was going to mention that for our audience, which is we've had Snippets for a number of years now, and this is obviously different because these are not local and these are now being pushed into Altium 365 and available to your team.

Leigh Gawne:

Exactly right, Lawrence. So, here when I open up a new reuse block, I've got the Schematic Editor here that we're all familiar with. And then I've got a PCB doc, as well, that you'll see down here. And this is where the actual physical layout, basically, goes into it. So, what I'm going to do now, when this is just opened up, I'm going to... I actually created one of these reuse blocks a little bit earlier, just to speed up the demonstration side of things. So, we're going to quickly jump, you'll see here. I've just opened up my panels and I've got a new panel it's called design reuse, okay? So, this is once you've created a design reuse block, you can basically come into here and I've got my workspace selected here. I've got one design reuse block. This is one that I actually put in a little bit earlier on. So, let's go ahead and just edit this real quick and you can essentially see how the reuse block is constructed.

Should just take us a moment. There we go. So, it opens up in this tree underneath my workspace here. I'm going to go, I've got an output driver. Let's take a quick look at the schematic. Looks like any other schematic. So, it's very familiar for people if they're going to be coming in and creating reuse blocks. Like I say, very, very easy, very straightforward to go do. So, this is my pretty basic block at the moment. And you can see it's not perfect, but it's good enough to kind of show the concept of what we've got here. And if we go ahead and open up the PCB part of this. This is where I've defined the physical layout, right?

Lawrence Romine:

So Leigh, I'm going to stop you here as well. Because this is an area where Snippets did not have this capability, correct? Where we have the actual layout, now, that's associated with this. So, you really now have this connection between the logical domain and the physical domain, correct? Is that what you're saying? Is that what you're telling us?

Leigh Gawne:

That's exactly right. Now, you've got that connection. And I think this is where the productivity really comes into play, because it's not only the schematic, obviously the layout is an extremely time consuming area. And especially when you've got a lot of similar or the same circuits that you're using, like output drivers and things like in this case, for instance, it just makes it so much faster to go and reuse that piece of layout. So, if we go back to, say a design.

I'm going to go back to this NFC drive and we can see if I just want to go ahead, I can basically go back to that design reuse block and just place it from here, Lawrence. So, let's go ahead and just place this in the design, okay? So, there we go, directly in, and then I would go ahead and wire that up as I would wire anything else up. Now we're going to go ahead, just save this real quick. And then what I'll do, is just go through the ECO process, update the PCB, and you can see how straightforward this is. I probably should have updated the annotated.

Lawrence Romine:

I was just going to ask that question, but I'll leave it to you, Leigh.

Leigh Gawne:

Exactly. Let's go ahead and validate this stuff, execute that. And for the purposes of demonstration, you'll see exactly what I mean here. So, it should just take a moment. There we go. Get our PCB doc open, close that and you'll see, this is my bit of circuitry down here. And again, you can see, I haven't done this in a way that I could really drag this and put this on like these other output drivers. But it shows you exactly the capability of how this design reuse is intended to work. I could put multiple reuse blocks, that are the same, onto that schematic through the ECO process, I'm going to get exactly the same layout brought into here as well.

So, really, really nice capability. Now, one thing to mention here is this is really just the beginning of the reuse blocks. Today, you want to place that reuse block into my design. It's not actually linked back to anything, Lawrence. So, it's really almost like you were saying, with the Snippet side of things, it's actually just that snippet of that circuitry put in and it's the same on the layout side, but the thing that you will see coming next will be where there is actually this is essentially treated almost as like a subsystem or a component. So, in the same way that we can with manage components, do things like where used, we're going to have all of that capability.

Lawrence Romine:

Ah, so you could treat it as a component effectively.

Leigh Gawne:

That's exactly right. You can life cycle it for instance. And that also means that if you update say one of these reuse blocks to maybe fix an issue or improve it, things like that, you can then go, okay, where is this used, find the design that it's in, go in, and quite easily kind of go update that as far as updating schematic and layout really easily as well. 

So, one of the other things I want to just show real quick, Lawrence, is our, what we call, kind of multifunction pin capability. So, if you take an integrated server, say let's take an application processor, today. You'll quite often have functions on those pins and multiple functions or alternate functions as they're known. Now, historically you'd have to represent this in this schematic is like this. You see, I've got this IC1 here, this part, and you can see it's GPIO41_ADC0 or /GPIO4. So, this is a good example of a particular part that, basically, through software configuration, you could tell that pin, it should behave like this or behave like that. But sometimes, it would actually be really nice to represent that in this schematic. What do I actually want to do with this pin?

Having that actually called out is very helpful. So, from a hardware design engineer's perspective, they know exactly the function of the pin that should be being utilized. Similarly, on the software side, the software person is going to have to configure that IC to be using the correct pins. So, as we go through the review process, you want to make sure that you maybe haven't got conflicts in the way that those alternative pin functions are defined and mapped, and so on and so forth.

Okay, so what I'm going to go ahead and do, Lawrence, is we've got this as your sphere module. I've got this IC1. So, I'm going to go ahead and click on here and then we're going to navigate to the actual component in our library. So, let's go ahead and go part actions, show this in server. And then we're going to go ahead and edit this to show you exactly how this alternative part pin definition stuff works, right? Let's go ahead, go in edit this. This is going to open up our single component editor. So, this is essentially where we have the definition of this component. It's where this schematic symbol lives, where the footprint lives, the 3D model, simulation model, if we have it, all that kind of good stuff. We'll go ahead, click on the edit button here.

And I'm just going to go ahead and select pin number one. Now, you can see the name of this pin, Lawrence, really long pin name, and essentially it's in coding all of the functions that this pin can support. So, what we're going to actually do is remove those. I'm going to leave a default function in here, which is GPIO41. We're then going to go and click on the box beneath, which is functions and add the other functions, the pin at. So as we go ahead and add them, it's going to show you just below a little box what's actually been added, going to add GPIO4. And then we're going to go ahead and add PWM0, as well.

So, this pin name is essentially my default pin function and these ones, the alternate ones that have actually defined here. So, let's go ahead, click that save button. We'll go back to the component. This is one of the things I really like about our component library management system is that everything is re visioned. So, any changes that you make to something, you can always go back. You always know exactly what was done, full kind of audit trail and the whole thing. Really, really nice. We're going to go ahead and just re-release this component and I'll just say, give it a release note, changed, hidden functions.

I'm going to go ahead, okay that. Now that'll just take a minute to basically release that new version of the component. I'm then going to go back to my, as your module, click on this IC1. Let's just do a quick double click and we're going to go ahead and you can see that the source tells me that it's actually out of date. So, go ahead, click the update button there. It's going to tell me now it's up to date and we're going to go back to the actual schematic and you'll see that that pin is now called GPIO41, which is the default name that we basically put in.

But here's the cool part. I'm going to click on this schematic symbol now. I'm going to go back to properties And we're going to take a look at the actual pins on this device. And you will see that for this pin 1, we've now got this name is GPIO41. What I can actually do is click that and drop down and we're going to get the other pin functions that are in here, now, as well. So, if I want to change that, say this is going to be an analog to digital converter input. I just go ahead and click that button on here. And that will go ahead and actually change the pin name and definition in this screen.

Lawrence Romine:

Right? So what you get here is, obviously, well, first of all, a very cleaned up schematic.

Leigh Gawne:

That's right.

Lawrence Romine:

And then secondarily, what you're getting is a real dynamic way of really reassigning general purpose Ios to something else based upon whatever the design or the software calls for, yeah?

Leigh Gawne:

That's exactly it. And making sure that, essentially, the schematic intent is reflecting what we're going to use that for in the design. And that's an important kind of part of that.

Lawrence Romine:

So, previously you would have to then go through and effectively rename each of the... If you had a change each of those, or if you, obviously, as a library component, you would have to manually annotate each of those pins.

Leigh Gawne:

Yes.

Lawrence Romine:

Got you. 

Leigh Gawne:

And, it just... there just wasn't really a nice way to basically reflect this properly. One of the other things that we can do real quick, let's just go ahead and edit this component as well. Because this is something else that I quite like about what we've got in our schematic symbols. Now let's go ahead and just edit this piece again. We'll see that there's also some other really nice annotation capabilities when it comes to pins today. So, I'm going to go ahead and click on that GPOI. And let's just say, for instance, that this was an input or this had some internal pull up on it, for instance. What we could do is actually now include something to define that. So, we'll represent that. So, here, for instance, we've now got symbols on the inside. We can include this internal pull up. So, here you can see it puts this nice little internal pull up symbol.

Lawrence Romine:

Oh. In, yes. Okay.

Leigh Gawne:

So, this is all about just improving the way, the resolution, the granularity of the intent in the actual design, in making sure that we've got that all captured nicely.

Lawrence Romine:

Because previous to that, then, if you did have an internal pull up on one of those GPIOs, you would have to, I'm assuming, just comment that on the sheet itself.

Leigh Gawne:

Comment it. Or a lot of the time, you just wouldn't know, you'd have to go to the data sheet.

Lawrence Romine:

Right.

Leigh Gawne:

And figure that one out as well. So, yeah, it's just much better to be able to kind of do that now.

Lawrence Romine:

Right. So, I guess again, on a big FPGA, hugely valuable as an example.

Leigh Gawne:

Indeed, indeed. So, let's jump on. I think, in the interest of time, I know we've got a lot to get through today, but I did want to touch on one particular thing, which is the... Some of the routine capability and some of the changes that we made around there. One particular thing that I really quite liked myself. So, I've got this, I'm going to switch to another design, at the moment, or another version of Altium Designer. This is a version of Altium Designer, without some of the new capabilities, routing capabilities enabled. So, what I want to do is actually show you how this kind of worked before and then we're going to go and compare it with how it's working today.

So, here I've got a BGA device, this is a i.MX6 processor, something like that, a few hundred pins on here. And when we're doing like BGA breakout, things like that, when we're trying to route out of these devices, that can be quite tricky sometimes. You want to make sure that you can take the optimum path out of this. And a lot of times you want to make sure that you've also got decent clearance between the traces and the actual balls on the BGA. Now, one of the things that we've introduced is this ability to basically, almost kind of like, balance the quick, the clearance between pins as you're routing out of the device. So, we're going to take a quick look and see with my current setup, how this would've worked in the past. So, let's just go ahead and draw this. So, you can see as I'm coming out of this pad, Lawrence. You see how the trace is actually starting to hug, as we want it to, because this is what we've defined. But we're hugging the actual, around the corner of the ball, or the edge of the ball.

Lawrence Romine:

Right.

Leigh Gawne:

In this space, right? But the thing is, if I wanted to actually use, say you have maximum clearance between this trace and those boards, it's actually quite difficult to do today. I'd maybe have to clean that there or I'd have to come down here and I'd end up with a bit of a messy trace, essentially, and I'd have to go back and do some manual cleanup to kind of make that work properly. So, now we've introduced a really nice capability. If we go back to the...

Leigh Gawne:

Used a really nice capability. If we go back to the version of AD that I'm running, that's got this some new stuff in. We'll go ahead and open up exactly the same design that I just showed you then. And you'll see how this now actually works. So let's go back to that very same pin. I'm going to start to route here.

You'll see that as I bring this out, Lawrence. Can you see how it's keeping an equal distance?

Lawrence Romine:

Right. Yeah.

Leigh Gawne:

Between natural trace and the ball in and of itself. So I can come out here and you can see I've got this nice clearance, the maximum clearance essentially between these things, alright? And this is something that's configurable, can be set up, but it's just a really nice productivity kind of enhancement when it comes to being able to do things like breakout. Now, if I wanted to do this before, like I say, it would be manual, or I could maybe have done it through rules by setting up complex clearance rules based on particular parts and things like that. But that's all then a function of the pitch of the pins and all this kind of stuff. It gets really difficult.

Lawrence Romine:

With that Leigh, if we could move back just briefly, at least Altium 365, and we talked about the adoption of Altium 365, really on a rocket ship ride. And we've really seen that as you said, it's been 18-20 months or so since we really made it publicly mainstream available, and it has really just been a rocket ship ride of adoption. And one of the reasons, as I mentioned already, it's the elegance of it, the simplicity of it, the... Maybe I could say the restraint that our R&D team that you guys have exercised and not really trying to overcook it, but, and I mean that as a compliment.

But one of the reasons I believe, and that I hear from customers is this ease of collaboration in design review and design review can mean many things to many people, but I very much remember going into conference rooms with a fist full of highlighters and printed out schematic sheets and that was a design review. And particularly in the world we now live where people are remote, what we've brought to the table and the design review domain with, with Altium 365 is just a game changer in my view. And maybe we'll want to talk about that, Leigh.

Leigh Gawne:

Absolutely. Yeah, like you say, design review is a really critical part of the process. And as you said, I've had my fair share of sitting in conference rooms with highlighters and pens and going through pages and pages of data sheets and printed out schematics and things like that to be well.

Lawrence Romine:

Yeah, I'm not going to say that was not ever fun. However, we had many fun times in those conference rooms, but that being said is not necessarily efficient.

Leigh Gawne:

Indeed, indeed. I mean the fact that we can now do a lot of this stuff completely online, purely digitally has so, so many benefits to it. We get that full digital thread of traceability, you know why a change was made how it was made, who'd actually done it, these kind of things. So bringing back the design review process onto 365 is one of the key use cases that customers are doing today. So one of the things I'm going to show right now, we're going to go through a bit of that design review use case now, and we're going to exercise some of the newer capabilities that we've brought in to help enhance that. Cause as you rightly pointed out, everyone's design review process is a little bit different depending on how they approach it.

They might need different tools, different ways of doing things slightly different approach to how they do it. There's a spectrum from the formal to the informal in the way that people approach this. So let's get stuck into it. I'm going to go ahead and open up one of my projects. I'm going to go ahead and choose this NFC mini lock project that we were just working on in the Altium designer space. And we're going to go ahead and open up the design. So take a moment for us to load and you'll see here, we've got our schematic view here. Now, one of the things that you will notice and might display here is that I've got this tasks on the left hand side. Okay. And what we've introduced today is a new tasks system. And it's really nicely integrated with the comments system as you're going to see in a moment.

And essentially what that allows us to do is to start to create these kind of work tasks and manage them inside the project. The key thing there is that they've actually, they're tightly coupled with the context of the design, which is really important, and we're going to see how that flows now. So one of the first things I'm going to do is for this design review, my process is going to say, I'm going to actually create a new general task. Okay. So I've just clicked on this button up here called "New." It's just created this "Untitled task" and it's taken me over to the right hand side to say, "Enter a task name". So I'm going to call this "Design review."

Go ahead and enter that. Now this is an important review Lawrence. So we're going to change the priority on this. We're going to go from low to say, look, this is the highest priority. So we want to get this done right away. And actually, it's going to be you today Lawrence, that is really taking the responsibility for this design review. So I'm going to go ahead and assign this to Lawrence. Go ahead, start typing your name and get this nice little pop up there. And there we go. That has now been assigned to you. And you can see in this top left hand corner here, I've got this nice little avatar of your face.

Lawrence Romine:

I need update that photo Leigh that's I think that's 10 or 11 years old.

Leigh Gawne:

Well, I wasn't going to say anything, but I think, yeah you should think about that. And what we can do here quite easily is just click on one of these avatars to also apply filters. So for instance, if I want to see what's applied to me, assigned to me, I can just click on my picture. You can see I've got no task. If we want to see what's applied to you, I can then just click you and uncheck me. We'll see that. And we can go ahead and create the filters. So I really like the way that this interface works with 365, it's just quite lightweight. It's quite intrusive I would say, in the way that you are able filter things and interact with the systems.

Lawrence Romine:

If I could Leigh, I'm assuming, and I think this is worth pointing out, which is another piece of feedback we get quite often with those that are lovingly embracing Altium 365. This does not have to necessarily be an Altium designer user.

Leigh Gawne:

Indeed, it really doesn't. This could be any user, any one of those other stakeholders in that kind of value chain as we talk about coming in and using this. Absolutely right. So this is really where the power of 365 starts to pay off. Because we've now got that ability to support these things for all of those other personas and people here as well, which is really, really good. So what I'm going to ask you to do actually, Lawrence, is, now we've got this design review, I've assigned it to you, we're going to go ahead and start it. So maybe you could just go ahead and change the design review task to the In Progress. 

Lawrence Romine:

Sure. Yeah let me. If I could, I'm going to look down at my laptop here, so-

Leigh Gawne:

Go for it.

Lawrence Romine:

I'm going to be a bit rude and turn my back on you a bit. But if I could, I'll just go in here ahead and log into Altium 365. And let's see what we got. Here we go.

All right so effectively the same view that you had, I've got my schematic top sheet and the hierarchy. And of course, if I were to expand this, you'd see the standard product tree or the project tree that we would be used to in Altium designer. But right here, I have my tasks button. If I click on tasks and there it is, I see it. I see my handsome but outdated photo of me. We have the task right next to it with the project name. So effectively all I have to do, I'm assuming to provide feedback to you, Leigh, who's assigned me the task, is click on it, drag this over here to the "In process" or "In progress".

Leigh Gawne:

That's right.

Lawrence Romine:

And I'm looking up now at your screen and that happened really fast.

Leigh Gawne:

Yep, absolutely. So all of this is working in real time, whatever you go and do here, I'm going to see that straight away. So this is really good right now. I can see that you've moved this task from, "To do", to "In progress."

Lawrence Romine:

Now, if I could point out Leigh again, marketing guy, but this is real. This is live and you are in England and I am in California and-

Leigh Gawne:

That's absolutely right.

Lawrence Romine:

I'm not joking when I say I saw this on my screen, I moved it. I released the mouse button and I saw it move on your screen instantaneously.

Leigh Gawne:

Yep. That's exactly right. It doesn't matter where you are in the world with this. It's going to feel like we're literally sitting next to each other, which is really, really powerful capability of this platform today. Okay. So now you've put that into "In progress". I'm just going to switch back to my workspace to show you that we've also got a task at the kind of the workspace level. So I could always come into here, Lawrence, take a look at the tasks that we've got, and then you'll see this kind of... Wrong tasks, this tasks. You will see the tasks that we've got here. And we'll see that general tasks that we've got couple up here. And then your design review one that's specific to this NFC mini lock project. So I can access all of that.

Lawrence Romine:

Yeah, it's like a Kanban view almost.

Leigh Gawne:

Exactly that, exactly that. All right. So let's switch back and crack on with this design review. So one of the things that I'd like you to do now, Lawrence, if you navigate to the sheet NFC schematic doc. And we're going to go ahead find the part IC two. And you'll see about two thirds of the way down on the left hand side, there is a pin called OSC in number 14, and we're going to place a comment on that. Something to the effect of "This requires a 1K pull down resist."

Lawrence Romine:

Yeah, I'll just give a quick view of that whole motion if I could Leigh. From sort of task assignment, which we've already shown and now how I would then navigate, I've moved it to in progress. I've accepted the task effectively. And now if I click on the ellipsis here, I can see the entire history of that task, its priority, who assigned it to me and exactly what's being asked in this case, as you've said, Leigh, in fact, you would like me to do a design review on NFC mini 15. Now all I would need to do that is come up here to my design tab. And then I'm presented with a very familiar looking project tree as identical to what we would see in Altium designer as an example.

I can navigate this schematic in the exact same way as I would in Altium designer. In fact, looking at the device now, all I would need to do is come over here to the comment box, place... Click on comment, place a comment. And in this case, pin 14, it's pretty simple. I just hover my mouse pointer over it, click on it. And there you go. And pretty simple. I just simply say, "Looks like we need a 1K pull up."

Leigh Gawne:

Pull down actually. We'll put a pull down.

Lawrence Romine:

You want it down?

Leigh Gawne:

I want it down this time round.

Lawrence Romine:

Okay, well you're the boss, Leigh.

Leigh Gawne:

Thank you.

Lawrence Romine:

And now you want me to assign the task to myself or just post the comment Leigh?

Leigh Gawne:

Just post the comment for now. That's absolutely fine.

Lawrence Romine:

Okay. Comment posted.

Leigh Gawne:

All right. So as soon as you pick that up, you'll see on my screen that it's also shown up as well. So just like the task we show how that's working in real time, the comments are exactly the same. So now I'll go ahead and click on this little comment bubble that we've appeared, that's appeared. And I can see here, your comment Lawrence. So I say, okay, I need to take care of that. So I'm going to write back to you and say, "Okay, I will take care of this." And now from here, what I'm going to do is actually because it's me who's going to do that work, I'm going to assign a task to me, off the back of this comment. So I'm going to go ahead, check this box and hit the reply button. And what you'll see now is that a task has been created from this comment. And it's actually put a bit of information about this task in the comment itself.

So you can see here, we've got NFC mini 16, that's the identifier for the task. And you can see here, that we've got a little arrow showing us that the priority is actually medium. Okay. Now in this case, I can quite easily just click on the hyperlink to the task. And it's also going to take me right into that task list. And I can see in here now that it's in my to-do list, it's under the NFC schematic specifically. So right on my Kanban board, really easy for me to keep track of everything. But what I'm going to do right now is we're going to switch back to Altium designer. Okay, I'm going to go ahead and double click on the NFC schematic doc Lawrence. You can see here.

And we've now got exactly the same schematic that we were looking at in the web, but I've also got my comment in here as well, which is the one that you placed. So I can go ahead and click on it in here and you can see exactly the same comment, same look, and feel, same identifier. And you can see here that we've got this little dropdown, which is to do. So I'm going to go ahead and move this into the "In progress" state, basically saying that I'm now working on this. Again, it would've updated in the Kanban. You'd be able to see that on your side. And we're now going to go ahead and actually just put this pull down into place. So I'm going to take this 1K, and I'm going to take this 1K that I've got up here. Just copy this one down on here. Let's go ahead and then just wire this up. It's pin number 14. There we go.

So I've done the change that you requested there. So I'm going to go ahead and just annotate things here, annotate the schematic, go ahead, annotate things. One designated requiring update as we expected. So we're going to go ahead, click Yes. That should make that R60, brilliant. Going to go ahead and now save this. And I'm going to click on this safety server. Okay. And what this is then going to do is essentially commit these changes to my workspace. So I'm just going to put a little comment in here to the effect of adding the pull up or pull down even. I almost got that one wrong as well.

Lawrence Romine:

Well, I should have figured it out when there was nothing connected to it. You'd probably want to pull it down.

Leigh Gawne:

Exactly, exactly. Let's go ahead and do that. And we are all good. So let's go back to that comment. I'm just going to click on it here. I want to say that "This task now is resolved", right? I'm pretty happy with it, okay.

Lawrence Romine:

It's interesting. I'm going to say that I did not refresh my screen. I did not do anything on my end and it is now in telling me that it's generating new data. So that change didn't even require me to do anything to see it.

Leigh Gawne:

Exactly right. Okay so, I'm going to jump back to the web now. What we're going to do is take a look at the project history feature. This is the one that we introduced last year, but as you know, we continue to evolve things and we've brought some really nice new capabilities into the project history feature. One of them is the ability to access and do comparisons directly from the actual timeline itself. So this is a really good example of where we've made a change in that design review process. We've added that pull down resistor, and now we want to go and double check that that change is actually done. So maybe say I'm going to do this Lawrence, but you would be able to just, as I'm doing now, come in, go to the timeline. I've said that I've actually done this, but you'd want to verify, okay, how's he actually done this?

Is it work? Is it as he expects? So let's go ahead. We can see up here that we've got this commit that I've made. We've added the pull down resistor. We can see exactly what's been impacted by it. We can see that there's a component that's been added, R60. You see that there's a new net, as we expect. That's the net that connects one of the terminals of the resistor to the pin. And it's also changed the ground net as well, because we've connected to it. So we're going to go ahead, click up the top right. Compare schematic to previous commit. Okay, let's go ahead and do that. It's going to then open up a new tab for me, the schematic comparison, and right away, you will see, I get this nice schematic view in the middle, but on the left hand side, we can start to see, dig into the changes.

So right here, I can click on this R60 and then it will automatically navigate to the part of the schematic where the change was made. So we can see here, this is where that resistor was added. Similarly, underneath components, we've got nets, it's identified the fact we've got a connectivity change so I can click on that net and it will actually highlight the entire net. So I can see what has actually changed. I can see here, this is connected now to the bottom of that resistor. And similarly, this new net was added that connects it to this particular pin to make sure that that is wired up exactly as we expect.

Now, this was a really simple change, of course, but there can be a lot of things on design review where there's quite a lot of work. Maybe there's multiple issues that end up having to go and be done. You've got TX and RX crossed in various places, all sorts of mistakes that we generally tend to make when we're manually wiring things up. This makes it so easy to be able to come in and actually see what has changed, visually compare things.

Lawrence Romine:

Well, well done once again to you and your team Leigh. If we could now move on to an area that's really gotten a lot of press lately. My brother-in-law is a purchasing executive with General Motors and he was at my place over the Christmas holiday for New Year's and Christmas. And that gentleman sat at my dining room table, I think, the entire two weeks he was in town chasing semiconductors. And it was every morning, he was just worried he was going to wake up to a bomb in his inbox and he did for the most part.

We could talk about component procurement, because I think this is really an area where we're also seeing explosive growth of adoption and extreme interest because my experiences as an engineer have been that engineers traditionally haven't viewed this as their responsibility. In other words, they kind of look at the world from a technical viewpoint and say, well, technically this is the device I want. And then perhaps it's somebody else's problem to make that parts list into a procurable bill of materials or manufacturer bill of materials. That is not the world we live in Leigh.

Leigh Gawne:

Nope. Mm-mm (negative).

Lawrence Romine:

And so if you could talk a little bit about the capabilities we now have with regard, I just call it generally supply chain.

Leigh Gawne:

Yeah, absolutely. So I mean, this has been an area of been investing into for a long, long time. Now we're starting to bring a lot of the capabilities that you've seen and things like active bomb, for instance, inside Altium designer, actually out onto the web. So right now I'm just, I'm inside the project and you'll see that in my particular view here up in the top right hand side, I've got this tab called Bomb. This is a beta version of it. I'm going to go ahead, click on that tab. And it's going to open up a new view, which for those who are used to active bomb, will be fairly familiar. So there, there we go. It's got this kind of spreadsheet layout as it were. So this is my entire bill of materials for this particular device, for this particular design should I say? And this design, Lawrence, was one that I think I did about 18 months ago. Something like that. And already, can you see all of the red exclamation marks down the right hand side?

Lawrence Romine:

Goodness.

Leigh Gawne:

So this is virtually unprocurable.

Lawrence Romine:

It looked like my brother-in-law's inbox.

Leigh Gawne:

Yeah, indeed. So obviously, as you mentioned, supply chain is a real issue today and people are fighting to stay on top of things, component shortages, making sure that they can get what they need to be able to essentially stay in business and build products. I don't think I've ever seen it as critical as it is [crosstalk 00:46:12].

Lawrence Romine:

I haven't.

Leigh Gawne:

And it doesn't seem like it's going to be resolved kind of tomorrow either. So I think we've got to ways with this. Now having visibility into the bill and materials to understand from the supply chain perspective whether you can get something at a moment in time, understanding maybe what the life cycle of a particular part is, is really, really important to be able to stay on top of that. Now this particular view that we've got in the project today enables you to see that really, really clearly.

So as I mentioned, this is my entire bill of materials. I can easily cross probe into the design, into the PCB and schematic a 3D model from here, but I've also got all of my manufacturer part information and supplier part information in the Bomb right in front of me. And if I click on one of these line items you can see on the right hand side, we start to get access to all the information about this component, including the actual part choice itself, to see whether something's actually in use. Because again, we can have, especially in this now when we're in the situation where multi-sourcing is probably more important than ever. When engineers are doing designings, we want to make sure that there are prep secondary or even tertiary or more sources for particular parts where possible. So our part choice capability that we've had around quite some time is a really powerful one in that regard.

We can continue to click down this list and understand, see this particular one, it looks like we're green. So our supply from in this particular case, looks to be pretty good. Say the one beneath it, is capacitor that I've got on the bomb from Digiti. You can see here, the lifecycle state is actually not recommended for new design. This lifecycle state in, in this case is actually coming through from IHS. So all of this lifecycle data in here is rolled up for the bomb all coming in from IHS today. And you can see that we've also got a curability problem certainly from Digiti at the moment.

Lawrence Romine:

Yeah. Let me just, if I could add a little color there Leigh, with regard to when you in fact have pro subscription and you do get access to the augmented IHS supply chain information. That then puts the numbers in, it's really quite dramatic. You're looking at over 300 distributors and over a billion parts worth of information. And it is the most accurate information in the business. It is the gold standard. So I just thought I'd point that out that this is a robust, robust data set and it's going to give real feedback that you can actually implement.

Leigh Gawne:

Absolutely. When you combine the IHS data source with say the breadth and coverage that we have in Octopart for stock and pricing and availability, this is really a really, really powerful capability. Not only for the design engineer, but anyone who's interested or needs to be aware of the state of supply chain. People work in the procurement side, wherever that may be. Now, what I'm showing you right here is obviously the bill of materials, right, for a particular design. But of course, generally people that design engineers, people that work in procurement, of course they're interested in not just one design, but everything. At the end of the day, most companies produce multiple products and multiple designs. They've got variance of designs and before you know it, you've got lots and lots and lots of bombs. And at the end of the day, you don't want to be coming into each one to try and understand, okay, have I got a problem here? Have I got a problem there?

So what I'm going to do real quick is just click on this link in the top right. And this is going to take me from the bill of materials actually into the component library itself. So we've also now... We've had this for a little while, but we've got, if you go into the workspace in the left hand side, we've got this components, menu item here.

Leigh Gawne:

... inside we've got this components menu item here. This is essentially my component library. Now for my workspace, it's a bit of a mess on purpose to be honest. It's a bit of a dumping ground for different demo projects and things like that. But what we're going to go ahead and do is just click on this and it's going to go ahead and load something called library health. So you can see this library health panel starts to give me information about the actual health of my library. Is it good? Is it bad? If it's bad, what's wrong with it? And specifically, if we start to dig into the details of my library, you can see here that this bar is showing I've got a pretty unhealthy library. I've got some components that have got no issues, but a lot of them have actually got issues.

Then when you start to dig down into it, you can see why we've got issues. So I've got a lot of parts with no part choices, for instance, which means I've got no manufactured part number assigned. That's one flag to begin with. I've got 60 components at the moment with stock issues. So these are things that generally probably can't get hold of. And then I've got 14 with risky lifecycle states. And what we can do is actually come and click into these. And as we drill down into these categories, that'll actually show you the specific components that you've got problems with. Now, here on this particular one, you can see I've got a problem. Here, I've got a couple of part choices. Both of them look to be obsolete, end of life, the life cycle. Let's go ahead and click down, see a couple of other ones, see what other issues that I've got.

Similar things, obsolete, out of date. We can continue to drill down a bit further, even further still. Eventually I will get to one of these and it will be being used in a design. So you can see here this little where used bit at the bottom. So in this particular case, what's really nice here is that not only can I get to the point to understand, okay, these parts now have a problem with their life cycle, but I also know what products they're impacting, what designs they're impacting. So again, this is where we start to through this digital thread, pull everything together from the supply to the design domain making sure that when we detect an issue in a particular space, we can actually go and understand what the impact of that issue is. And again, this is all now on the web, all very easy for a design engineer or anyone else general, whatever it might be to come in and actually understand. Especially in this day and age with the times we're going through now, very, very powerful capability.

Lawrence Romine:

All right, Leigh. So this is always an area where there's a great controversy, whether we're talking to customers or just even internally. I can recall being in AltiumLive a couple years back and there was a new employee in marketing that had recently come on within that week. And I talked about bugs and I called them bugs right from the stage. And I remember after the fact that individual come to me and say, "How can you possibly do that?" Well, it's a reality of software development and there's certainly no reason to hide from it. It's a reality of what we do. I still say with a very clean conscience and a straight face that we invest more heavily into our products than anybody in our industry. And with that Leigh, we could just talk a little bit about what we've see now in Altium Designer 22. But once again, let's talk a little. We mention that in context of our monthly release cycle and really what you're going to discuss here is really more of a summary than something that happened definitively with Altium Designer 22, correct?

Leigh Gawne:

Yeah, definitely Lawrence. I mean, look at the end of the day is really important that we continue to innovate and move things forward. But at the same time, we've also got to really support the customer base with the existing design tools that we've got and the capabilities that lay within them. And to that end, I just want to emphasize that we listen hard to our users and our customers to make sure that we are improving the things or fixing things where they're not up to scratch and where they're not where they need to be for our customers. And I'm really pleased to say that over the last year, and not only that, this is an area that we've been focused on for multiple years now, but certainly the last year, there's been a huge, huge emphasis on this. This idea of stabilization and performance of Altium Designer and the way that Altium Designer and Altium 365 work together is really, really critical for us.

We want to make sure customers are getting what they need and have great experience with it. So I think there's a couple things that I can talk to there to that end. If we look at say the bug crunches and ideas, and I know we get an awful lot of input from customers there and on the forum and what have you, this year I think we've fixed something around 240 user reported bugs and ideas that have come in. This is more than I've seen in any other release over the last, I think going back four years. So if you look at the time and the energy and the investment that Altium R&D is making into the products to make sure that they really are working for our customers, we can obviously always do more but we are listening and we're certainly trying to make a big impact on that. So I just want people to be aware that when you do post things, when you do present ideas, when you do talk to us, we absolutely have our ears open.

Lawrence Romine:

With that Leigh, if I could, I'm going to ask you a question. Now, this is a name I'm going to mention that our customers probably not a lot of them have heard just yet, but is really an example and I think scene sets for what we're going to talk about at the very end of this keynote, which is Altimade. We'll come back to that. But this word Nexar. So Leigh, I'll just be very direct, what the heck is Nexar? Now, of course I know, but for our audience, what the heck is Nexar Leigh?

Leigh Gawne:

Well, let me start by saying this Lawrence. When our customers go and design products, it's not just Altium tools and services that enable them to do that. There's a bunch of different tools and services and partners and people that they end up going and relying on, right? So when we talk about transforming the electronics industry, uniting the domains of design, supply and manufacture, our team is not going to do that on its own. It's really we feel that we can be the catalysts for certainly doing that. And 365 as a platform is intended to be an industry platform for enabling that. But what it really requires is Altium building up relationships with partners, with third parties in that ecosystem of electronics, design, supply and manufacturer. That's really what it comes down to. And what Nexar is essentially Lawrence, is our vehicle for doing exactly that.

So over the last year inside Altium, we've made that a first class focus and capability inside our company today. And as much that we want to make sure that other partners that are out there that might be in the CAE domain with say simulation tools, people that might be in the PLM space, people that might be in the MCAD space, the manufacturing space, the supply chain domain, any one of those adjacent domains that our customers depend on to go and build and realize products, we want to make it easier to basically connect our system and connect this ecosystem digitally. And this is really what Nexar is out to do. So Nexar also essentially then starts to deliver programmatic access into Altium's cloud platform. And this is a really key part. We can't continue to have...

We're not going to bring about any change without having those true digital links that sit in between those things. So what we're building with the Nexar side of things, like I say, is this programmatic access to the platform today. So things like Octopart on the supply domain, all of Octopart's richness and goodness that is accessible via Nexar programmatically today. Similarly with Altium 365. So all of the say design domain information obviously specific to particular users and customers, and they are now able to come in and access their information programmatically.

Lawrence Romine:

So if I could Leigh, so maybe if I could distill what you said. So the idea at least the way I see this is the idea being that what Nexar allows us to do is really bring potentially capabilities from the market at large, from potentially other domains. So obviously we're going to talk a lot about manufacturing in just a little bit, but this could potentially be analysis capabilities as well, and do that in really a free market way. In other words, really bringing the power of choice to the user, right? So it's a set of APIs that give access to the market at large to 365, Altium 365 and or Altium Designer, and really enabling our users power of choice and saying, "Yes, I'd like that capability and have these range from free to paid services potentially," correct?

Leigh Gawne:

That's exactly it. So it's completely free and open in that regard. I think customers today, Lawrence, they want the best of breed. Cloud enables that. And at the end of the day, best of breed also comes about by enabling tools to talk and work with one another. Customers don't care maybe that these five or six are from different companies. If they're part of their design flow and they need them to work effectively and efficiently, they expect them to work together properly. And that's really what we're trying to do here. For a long time data and information has almost been shackled to a desktop, or it's been somewhere that's made it quite difficult to access. A lot of our competitors actually go down this path of building walled gardens to make it hard.

We're taking the opposite approach with this. With Altium 365 and Nexar, we are really tearing down those walls. We don't want walled gardens. We want gardens with multiple paths where people across all of those domains can come in and connect their tools and services. So to give you an example, you could imagine in the future that perhaps someone who's an Altium customer with Altium 365 may want to get access to some simulation capability and they might need it for a particular design. Now, this system has the potential to enable them to do that from within 365 on demand, but that would then require all of these things to be integrated digitally, as you say, through those APIs and make that work. And really Nexar is providing the foundation for making that possible.

Now, no information or data moves at all without the customer say so. At the end of the day, it's a similar to installing an app on your mobile device, right? You've got to give it permission to do things and get access to certain things. It's exactly the same way that Nexar works. And we have an auth two compliant authorization and so on, on the APIs and things like that. So yeah, this for me is a really, really exciting area because it starts to really create this true digital fabric across the electronics engineering domain, which I feel is just really important for what we need to build tomorrow.

Lawrence Romine:

Yeah. So really a modern interpretation, if you will, I'm not sure if that's the right word, but we've seen guys over the years, gals, heavy use of scripting to create some custom functionality. And then also over the years, SDK has been something you hear bantered about, but this really replaces all of it. And really we give you access to looks pretty granular, pretty much everything in Altium Designer or Altium 365.

Leigh Gawne:

That's right. This is the beginning, we'll just continue to expand and grow on this. There'll be more and more that comes to it. But like you say, Lawrence, just as we had scripting in Altium Designer to enable people to do the things that they needed to do, this is almost the natural progression to that. When people are on cloud, at the end of the day, we don't want this to be completely closed so that they can't access and get to the things that they need to get to in the way that they want to get to them. And this basically provides that programmatic layer or way of doing that very effectively.

Lawrence Romine:

All right now, Leigh, here we are. This is the big reveal if you will. Now, to be fair, I've been accused of being bit of a showman over the years, guilty, but I had a co-conspirator over the years, Leigh, and that would be you my friend.

Leigh Gawne:

Indeed.

Lawrence Romine:

And when we introduced this keynote, I mentioned that it feels like we've done this version of this in some way, shape or form in many parts of the world. I know we've done this face to face in Australia, we've done it in Frankfurt. I think we did it in... No, you weren't there, but I did it in Munich and certainly here in San Diego. But I'm happy to report that what we're going to show you today is now real. There will be no smoke and mirrors. There's actual packaging with actual packaging tape that has the Altimade brand on it. And with that, I'd like to introduce Chris Church, who is the founder and current chief product officer of a company called Macrofab. And with that, Chris, if you would please introduce yourself.

Chris Church:

Thanks Lawrence and Leigh. Really happy to be here today with you guys. This is something we've been working on together for a long time, and I'm really happy now to see this out there in the world. So at Macrofab we are a cloud electronics manufacturing platform. We are here to help customers get their products made easier and faster. And that I think with Altimade today is a brand new leap, both for us and Altium.

Lawrence Romine:

Thank you, Chris. And so that name Altimade, Leigh, is obviously something our customers have not heard before. And if you would, take it away, Leigh.

Leigh Gawne:

No, they certainly haven't heard of it before, but they will be hearing a lot about it going forward. So this is definitely something that's near and dear to my heart. And as you say, Lawrence, we've talked about this for what seems like an eternity. This ability to go from design to manufacture is stuck in the dark ages quite frankly. It's something that's been a painful experience for a long time for pretty much anyone who's trying to realize a printed circuit board design. And we spend a lot of time and energy thinking, how can we really drag this into the modern age? There's a lot of reasons why things haven't changed, a lot of complexity that sit behind the problems that we actually have today. But our customers, our users, the industry at large really deserves something a lot better than we've actually had up to this point.

So bringing design and manufacturer together in a real way, creating that digital continuity between those spaces to literally enable design engineers, people working on electronic designs and products to get their designs, to manufacture from prototype all the way through to getting things done in quantity. This is something that we've really wanted to improve that experience on. And this is really what Altimade is all about. And because of Altium 365 today, that cloud platform, it actually makes the concept of Altimade possible. So what we've been doing with Macrofab for quite some time now is actually building a true digital integration between that manufacturing space, that manufacturing floor okay, and the actual design world itself. So instead of shipping files and document and what have backwards and forwards emails, phone calls, all of that stuff, what you're going to see today is the very beginning of what we see as the future of electronics manufacturing. It's the ability from within the design environment to actually go through that full process, okay, of getting a board sent to manufacture, getting it produced and having it land on your doorstep. And that's exactly what we're going to actually show you today Lawrence. I'll jump in and get going if you don't mind.

Lawrence Romine:

No, please.

Leigh Gawne:

Okay. So first of all, I'm going to open up a project inside Altium Designer because I guess the first part of Altimade is that we've actually now got a native capability inside Altium Designer itself. When you've got this capability turned on, you will see that in the panels section on the bottom right hand side, we now have a panel that's called manufacturing, okay? So we're just going to go ahead and click on that manufacturing panel. Pretty straightforward, simple panel, almost too simple really when you consider the complexity that it's actually handling, but I'll come to that in a minute. And here we've got a demo design, okay. It's a fairly straightforward design at the moment, but this design has actually got some issues with it.

So one of the first things about Altimade is that we really want within the design environment, the ability for us to understand whether or not something is actually producible. So right now we've got a bunch of constraints capabilities on the manufacturing side that essentially limit what we can do from a design perspective. Okay. So all I have to go and do, this is the design you can see here right now. I'm going to go to the top right hand side of the panel, just click this refresh button here and we're going to go away. And what's actually going to happen now is that the system is actually analyzing the design for the manufacturability. So actually starting to see whether or not there's any features or things that sit on the design that may cause us problems of actually getting it built.

Lawrence Romine:

Now Leigh, where is that rule set coming from?

Leigh Gawne:

At the moment, this is actually baked into Altimade itself. So it's separate from the DRC. But it works in conjunction with it. So the user can still go and have all of their own DRC set up and so on and so forth. But what this is is actually essentially DFM checking inside the tool to make sure that the features that you have on the board are going to be able to be handled downstream. Okay. And in this case, by Macrofab. And right now it points out, this is the beginning of this service, all right? So we've got some constraints around the things that we can go and do today, but like anything that we go and do, you will expect to see a lot of those relaxed and as this system evolves, there'll be more and more and more capabilities that we can go and support.

So top right hand side, we've actually managed to get a quote back because we've quoted based on the fact that we essentially know a lot of details about the board, Macrofab's able to give us a quote, but at the same time, we've also thrown up some issues saying, "Look, we've got some problems in as much that are going to block you from moving forward with it." So here, for instance, one of the issue used that we found is a minimum whole size problem. So I can just go ahead and click on this and it's going to take me directly to the point on the board where I've actually got an issue. Similarly, we can click on this minimum trace width one, and it's going to jump me over and show me exactly where I've got a problem here. So here we've got a problem with the trace width. Trace width is below the minimum value that's actually allowed today. And similarly, we've got some other problems. Surface finish in the layer stack is not actually present. Copper weight, we've got some problems there as well. So essentially the manufacturing panel through Altimade today is giving us feedback on the board and saying, "Look, you've got to fix these things before we can actually get that done."

Lawrence Romine:

Look, this is worth pointing out. I say this a lot and we talk to a lot of manufacturers generally, but obviously as we've led towards this Altimade destination, we've talked to a lot more of them. And I just ask very directly these folks that we talk to in the manufacturing world and say, "What percentage of designs go on hold because of problems like this when they hit your desk or when they go to be quoted?" And I've heard people give some very specific numbers, 86.5% as an example. But generally speaking, the consensus is all of them. All of them go on hold. And this is my point when I say yeah, we've been designing for manufacturer my entire career yet here we are in 2022 where every design, maybe that's a little bit hyperbolic, but not that much and I can see Chris nodding his head yes as a manufacturer, is not that hyperbolic. Every design's still going on hold because of things that could have been avoided if we had designed with manufacturing. And this is a great example of that Leigh, and I'm again marketing guy, I got to do my song and dance, but this is an excellent example.

Leigh Gawne:

That's exactly right. And we are really trying to bring the design and manufacturing worlds much, much, much closer together. And the key is what you said there, designing with manufacture so that we actually understand as we're going through that design process, what the impact of decision is, okay, in a much, much easier way than we've been able to do in the past. So I've just switched to another design here. This is a similar one, but it's got a lot of those issues fixed. So I haven't got problems now with minimum V sizes or trace widths, or the fact that I've got minimum component pictures we don't support and things like that. So again, I'm going to go ahead and just click this button in the top right to go and request essentially a quote for the board. And what's actually happening now is that all of this intent, metadata about the design, sorry, that describes the design enough to enable us to price it is essentially being sent out to the quoting engine. And this is then coming back with a cost range and a time range. Okay. And we'll see how in a moment that actually works. But right now we've got this information here and we can see that there's no issues with this particular design.

Lawrence Romine:

So if I could ask a clarifying question. So that cost, that estimation there has now come from Macrofab, correct?

Leigh Gawne:

It's come via Macrofab through our cost engine. Exactly that.

Lawrence Romine:

And also, let me just be clear here as well that what we're looking at here is actually Altium Designer.

Leigh Gawne:

That's right.

Lawrence Romine:

So this is happening in designer's context. This is in their cockpit where they live today.

Leigh Gawne:

That's exactly right. Bear in mind this is all also made possible through Altium 365.

Lawrence Romine:

You've taken the words out of my mouth. When I talk about a design experience, this is what I'm talking, this is what I'm referring to, which is it's the collective of what the power of the cloud and Altium 365 enables us to do to bring this manufacturing view or perspective is probably a better choice of words, directly into the engineering environment right where they're living today. This is the dream Leigh, that we've been pushing or we've been talking about for years and here it is today. And forgive me if I seem too excited, but go ahead.

Leigh Gawne:

This is really it coming to life.

Chris Church:

Yeah. Well there's just a couple things I'd like to add in there because I think this is really important. We talk about the limitations and that real time pricing feedback. All of that is actually real time, so this is a real integration. So as we expand those capabilities and as we have new options available for the customers, they instantly become available here in Altium Designer. So this is not a state of, well, when I get the next upgrade, when I get the next this I'll have these new capabilities. But as we work together to really open that up and give new feedback, it'll be happening right here for the customer.

Lawrence Romine:

That's an excellent point, Chris. Absolutely excellent point.

Leigh Gawne:

Thanks for that. When you go to a manufacturer today, even if you go maybe through say a web interface or something like that, one of the things that you end up doing is quite often having to repeat information as well, Lawrence, right?

Lawrence Romine:

Yeah.

Leigh Gawne:

So I have to go in, I have to give a bunch of information that's already in my design. The problem is the way that that information is communicated generally today, lowest common denominator, things like Gerber files and associated documentation makes it really difficult.

Lawrence Romine:

Well, I say cocktail napkins, envelopes, and sticky notes, but go ahead.

Leigh Gawne:

That's exactly it. But you see with this system, I haven't done any of that. There's nothing required here. I've literally clicked a button and the thing has been quoted and priced.

Leigh Gawne:

And the thing has been quoted and priced. And we are actually in a situation where we are ready to go. So when I was first going through this I was like, you get that feeling it's kind of like, are you sure? Is there something missing? I normally have to do a lot more than this. It's got that feel to it. But anyway, we're going to go ahead and literally, I'm going to show you what comes next. We're going to hit this proceed checkout button. You can see it's transitioned me to the web browser, right?

And what you're seeing now is Altium 365. So it's brought me into Altium 365, and it's very simple. What I've got in front of me now is a bit more of a breakdown on that quotation and lead time information that was provided. What you can see is that we've actually got four different quotes that sit here that are different depending upon the lead time that you want.

So right now, this is basically saying from macro fab's perspective, they could do something that would ship by March the third. Or if I want to pay a bit more money, I have some other options. So in this case, if I want to get it a bit faster, I could ship it by February the fourth, 10 day turn, I can pay a bit more, which is really nice. So this can fit my kind of design and development schedule as I need it. Okay. So what we're going to do here, come in, just going to add our shipping information, really straightforward to come and do. I've already got my address and stuff primed here.

Lawrence Romine:

Well Let's be, let's be clear. That's not your home address, Leigh.

Leigh Gawne:

This is not my home address. This is my work address. So yeah, exactly. So when I come in here, update my shipping information and once that's done, should only take a moment or so. We're going to then come back. I'm going to select the lead time and pricing, that I want. And I think in my particular case, I'm going to push the boat out and actually spend the 2000 bucks because this is a time critical project for me. I want this stuff back as soon as possible.

Lawrence Romine:

They're all time critical, Leigh.

Leigh Gawne:

Exactly. They're all time critical. So right now we're going to go ahead and put in our credit card details, by the way, this is not my real credit card details. You won't be able to order anything off of Amazon or anywhere else from using these details. We'll go ahead and confirm that we're going to go ahead and basically place this order. Before we actually do that, I'll just click up here, you get this quote breakdown as well. So we can actually see the quantity of boards that I'm ordering.

So here I've got 10 boards it's expected to ship by February 4th, we find a bit of information out on the NRE costs. Assembly costs, also bond cost and fabrication. So we get an entire breakdown basically here of what I'm actually paying for. Some really nice transparency on the quote itself. So we close that down. We're going to go ahead, click the place order button. Should take a moment or so, and this is then going to transition us, assuming that my order goes through. Which I'm sure there should be no problem with it. It's going to transition us to essentially our order status screen.

Lawrence Romine:

Now Leigh, just from my own interest the configuration of the release packages. You had set that up previously, correct?

Leigh Gawne:

No, there's nothing to do.

Lawrence Romine:

Nothing to do?

Leigh Gawne:

Everything is automated here, everything. So even the generation of all of that, once you basically commit to placing that order we take care of everything behind the scenes. So this is what I'm saying. The user now doesn't have to worry about generating zip packages and sending them Sunday. They don't have to worry about going doing X, Y, and jumping through hoops to make that happen. What we're saying is, this is my design, I would like to get it produced. Please go and do that for me. And what you're seeing here is real. This now has been sent over to MacroFab. MacroFab would've received this order and they would start working on it. From a user experience perspective, like I said before, it surely it can't be that easy to get a board produced.

Lawrence Romine:

I'm having the same feeling.

Leigh Gawne:

This is exactly the kind of experience we want to be delivering to customers exactly.

Lawrence Romine:

But Leigh, isn't it supposed to be painful? 

Leigh Gawne:

If people like pain, they can continue doing it the old way. But if they want a bit of relief for that, Altium is coming here. Now, as I said to begin with, this is the very beginning of this service. You can expect it to evolve and grow a lot over time, but we are now at the point where this is becoming very real. So I'm going to hand this over if that don't mind Lawrence.

Lawrence Romine:

No, I was going to say, Jess, maybe we see what Chris has to say about where we go.

Leigh Gawne:

At this point, the ball is really in Chris' court with MacroFab. MacroFab going, Chris is going to talk a little bit about now, what goes on the MacroFab side of things and what's happening behind the scenes to actually make this possible for our customers.

Chris Church:

Yeah. And, and Leigh, I had to say the thing you just mentioned there, how this is so much easier. Even at MacroFab, we've been trying to make this process easier on people for years now. And even before you'd still have to go into Altium, you'd have to export an ODB++, you'd have to upload it to MacroFab. You'd have to verify the BOM matching, all of those things. But with this direct connection between our two backends together here, our backend services, we are now getting all of that intent information with no translation, very little risk there of any conversion issues, anything like that. Nobody has to match BOMs because you guys, you guys have great bill of materials, data it's matching directly to the data in our system. And we're able to connect that up.

And that's just taking hours out of the day out of the time of getting these made, even with an advanced service like us, let's not mention going to a traditional manufacturing source where you're going to send them that zip file, and they're going to email you and they're going to call back and forth. This is something I started in on the customer side, designing products before I moved into manufacturing. And this is sort of the realization of the dream that I always had. That I could just click a button and make it hap make it happen at 3 o'clock in the morning. Cause I never finish anything in business hours. I don't have time to talk to a salesperson. But thinking about what now happens at this stage so the data has been shared directly from the Altium designer and from the Nexar APIs with our APIs at MacroFab.

And what's been going on when we're getting those pricing, that pricing information. We're actually mapping out the entire supply chain in real time, which PCB vendors can produce this design within this lead time, get its ship to us at the right amount of time. Which factories can actually successfully assemble this at that time. What their availability is, as I mentioned before, we are a cloud electronics manufacturing platform. So we have an entire suite of factories that are really designed or mapped to very specific capabilities in real time. And so that's, what's happening there. We're seeing given a particular design, how much it's going to cost, how long it's going to take for every aspect of that, from material sourcing to labor and assembly, to quality assurance, shipping. All of those things are being included in there. So when that data comes to us we've already got a very clear model of how this design can be produced, but we do have one little thing here.

We still do want someone to take a look at this, just because that data all works in the Edda tool doesn't mean that it may actually work in real life. We may have picked a component that doesn't exactly match that footprint. We're going to do a quick check on that through our engineering team. And it usually happens very quickly. It can happen as little as a few minutes and just give it a final clearance to make sure we're not likely to see any issues in that production.

Lawrence Romine:

I say this, airplanes still have pilots and I'm very glad for that. So exactly. I'm not going to, I'm not going to count that against ya.

Chris Church:

Exactly, because nobody wants this experience where you think everything is good. And then three, four days later you get a call from the factory saying, no, this doesn't work. We're really trying to minimize that. And as we continue to work together, this is something and Leigh and I have talked about quite a bit, is how do we prevent even those sorts of things from being able to happen, in an automated fashion. And this is something we're going to be continuing to work on getting that feedback from the manufacturing engineering so that as you're making a choice in Altium designer or working on your product, you can be given feedback instantaneously that this is probably not going to be manufacturable the way you've designed it. Even if it looks good, how do you go back and say we're going to take hundreds of thousands of orders of feedback from dozens of factories and say, this is going to cost more.

It's going to slow you down. It's going to create risk. So that's really what we're working on together here, but diverging a little bit. We want to get back into what's actually going to happen with this order. So now this order's been viewed by our engineering team. It goes into our automated ordering queue. So all we're connected directly with the distributors for those materials, we are connected directly with the PCB fabricators. And so, and all that information is being shared with Altium designer, as well. So when they pick that bill of materials and they say you have all these parts available. We already synchronized and made sure that we could both what you could see and what we can buy are one and the same. So we've connected that automated ordering now happens. And all those materials will flow into one of our operations center within a cup of days, where it will then be kitted, everything will be checked in.

And we're actually updating in the background, the completeness of that bill of materials. So at each step along the way, we're reporting status back to Altium 365 and you see that status changing right here. So as that order's being produced, whether we're talking about materials, ordering, receiving, manufacturing, etc. That's all going to come back to you. So you can see that that progress is occurring. Then we're going to go, it's going to go to the factory. At that factory, we will do the surface mount, we're going to go do pick and place all those standard things. We're going to do in any of the through whole work, we're then going to do in-process quality control, identify any issues. And we can actually give the designer feedback during this process. So if we're seeing some issues that may be solvable here on the prototype, but will be an issue when you're starting to go into higher volume production, you're trying to rely on this, this product being manufactured smoothly.

We can start providing that feedback, now at this stage. And then once we're done manufacturing, what's going to happen is we're going to go ahead and do a final quality assurance. So we do it in process. And then we do it before shipping. Where we'll do things like automated optical inspection, manual, visual inspection, x-ray inspection of any leadless components, a 100% there. We want to make sure you get a great product. We're going to package that up. You're going to see it in a really nice Altium 360 or Altimade packaging, that we've worked on together with Altium there. And then we're going to ship it out to the customer. Every point, along the way, you are going to get an update. You are going to see the status there. And one of the things that's really important to us, is a prototype is always a step on a path to a product and every product needs to be manufactured eventually.

So traditionally, if you're working with a prototype manufacturer, say you got some quick turn company, you work with, you work out a lot of issues and then you go to production. Now you're going to start all over with the new factory. You they're going to have to relearn that design. They're going to have to understand more about what your intent is, but with the MacroFab platform, we're able to transition directly from these prototypes, that you're issuing in altium 365, all of that feedback, we're getting back through Altimade, all of that carries forward into production. So we don't have to restart that learning process. We can take advantage of the elasticity our factory network provides to scale up or scale down, and we can even work directly with supply chain teams off the data that you've already produced in that prototype. So nothing ever gets lost.

Leigh Gawne:

And I think the other, the important thing to kind of call out there as well, Chris is that between this design and manufacturer, because we have that kind of digital link, that's an entire kind of chronological record of everything actually goes on here. So nothing is kind of like split. It's not put into a silo over here where we kind of lose that at and as Altimade continues to evolve that will get richer and richer and richer. So this kind of like continuous digital thread of actually what's happened when it's happened, who it was done by why something was done, I think is just fundamental to making sure that companies will be able to improve their efficiency, reduce their cost of product development, get to market quicker at the end of the day.

Chris Church:

Absolutely. And one of the things that we all at the manufacturing the customer side hate, is when you have to stop production to go find an answer. And having that information there, like you saw the change history earlier, that's really exciting. Being able to see how you got to this point and being able to reference that all the way down to the manufacturing floor is really critical for a really optimal experience on the production side.

Lawrence Romine:

Definitely.

Leigh Gawne:

So this particular design was actually run through MacroFab and produced. And that really nice box that Chris was talking about earlier. Well, I actually have one. So this was my box that I got from MacroFab.

Lawrence Romine:

Well, let me add something here, Lee, this is the bit that we've done in the past, and

Leigh Gawne:

We've done it in the past, but it's always been,

Lawrence Romine:

This is an actual box from an actual manufacturer. That is an actual product that was actually built to spec from the design files that you looked at through the course of this demonstration.

Leigh Gawne:

That's exactly. It's gone exactly. Through this system. There was nothing additional that was sent. There was nothing like that. It's flowed through in exactly the way that I've just demonstrated today. This is the actual box and I've been waiting to open it today. So let's go ahead and see. I'm hoping Chris, that we've actually got some boards [inaudible 01:30:24]

Lawrence Romine:

Well, I hope it's not those snakes you get in the can of peanuts. Cause that would be a cruel joke that Chris play on us.

Chris Church:

Well, I was going to make it explode with confetti when I heard you were going to do this live, but then I was a little concerned that it might blow out the speakers or something.

Leigh Gawne:

So let's take a look inside. This is always the exciting part. Whenever we've got to produce the design, actually getting physical thing back. I can see this is well packaged. Perfect. Here we go. And here we go. I guess sitting inside here, all 10 pieces, let's go ahead and open up one of these. See what we got. So as we expect, nice ESD packaging, MacroFab there, Right in my hand, let see if I find my trusty knife again and open this one.

And there we have it, the actual design that was produced. This is exactly one you'll recognize it is the one that I just showed you and put through the system now. So there we have it. I've actually got a coin cell battery here as well. This is a very simple circuit. It's just a triple five, a stable device that basically blinks LEDs, but proves the point anyway. So let's go ahead and I'll battery into this thing. See if it works. There we are. You see those Leds

Lawrence Romine:

Yep.

Leigh Gawne:

There we go.

Chris Church:

First.

Lawrence Romine:

You're on your way to being an engineer.

Leigh Gawne:

Happy days. Certainly for me, that experience is the second to none. And I'm really hoping that for engineers around the world, they can start to get this experience going forward. Not only for designs like this, but other things as well/

Lawrence Romine:

On that note, talk to us just to briefly about availability of this functionality. So who, what, when, where, where are we, where are we sitting with this? And we've already told everybody this is real.

Leigh Gawne:

So absolutely.

Lawrence Romine:

When can they get their hands on it?

Leigh Gawne:

So as we did with 365, Lawrence, to begin with, we have something of a soft lift with this, obviously it's a relatively new system. It's very complex in terms of everything that makes it as simple and as straightforward as it is. Because there's a lot of things happening beneath the surface. So what we're doing at the moment is we are basically inviting people to come along and ask for access with it. If you've got an design, something that you'd like to get produced, come and have a talk with us. You must be a Altium 365 user because it requires all of that to be in place. We'll engage with you and make sure that the design is within the constraints that we can support at the moment and take you forward with it.

And the idea here Lawrence is that we want to make sure that we get as many people through this learn from that, make them as successful as possible. We've already had some alpha and beta runs on this system that have been going on throughout 2021. So I think what you're going to see is that a real kind of like a ramp of the Altimade service and 2022 will be the year for this. I'm really hoping, but by the end of this year, we're in a position where this is becoming a very standard way for people to realize their designs out of Altium 365 as a designer.

Lawrence Romine:

Well, excellent Leigh and, and Chris, it's really impressive to see, as I mentioned previously, this is something that we've been sort of envisioning for a very, very long time. And I do know I have insider information, obviously I know that the MacroFab coming into the mix was really the critical piece that made it real. That concept of your manufacturing platform is really, in my view, a big part of why this works. And then obviously that Altium 365 piece, bringing those... The world of manufacturing to the engineer's desktop is something we've been talking about. And now it's just quite amazing and exciting to see it here in reality. And I thank you both for, for bringing it to us and I'm looking forward to what this year will bring.

Chris Church:

Thanks Lawrence.

Lawrence Romine:

Thanks, Lawrence.

Chris Church:

Really excited about this. And I can't wait to see what kind of designs come through as the engineers start to utilize it and really look forward to the future of manufacturing together with Altium,

Lawrence Romine:

Well, thank you very much, Chris and Leigh, obviously. Thank you once again for everything you do for Altium, obviously, Altium's customers, but obviously given us a big chunk of your time to talk to our community and talk to us about what's going on with Altium designer Altium 365, and now Altimade. I can't thank you enough. And I know that if our track record is any witness to history that this will once again be a game changer, industry changing capability that we bring to the market first. So thank you all very much for attending the keynote. Look forward to having a great couple of days here at Altium live. And from here, we'll move right to Q and A. So stay tuned and thanks again.

 

Über den Autor / über die Autorin

Über den Autor / über die Autorin

Als Vordenker der EDA-Branche und erfahrener Experte bei Altium ist Lawrence fest davon überzeugt, dass einheitliche Lösungen nicht nur schön, sondern auch unerlässlich sind.

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