Addressing PCB Design Quality with a Simulation Driven Design methodology - AltiumLive 2022
Electronics is in everything due to significant technology transformations, electronics is in every part of our lives, and it’s disrupting entire industries. The global growth in Electronic Systems is everywhere, from Autonomous Driving, AD infrastructure, electrification of vehicles, smart devices, smart factories, smart cities, and many more verticals, creating considerable challenges for electronic systems manufacturers in designing quality products with high reliability.
Designing a reliable electronic system with high quality is essential for any electronic product. The electronic system performance heat, vibration, EMI, and manufacturing issues are a few challenges that make the electronic system fail in the field. Virtual Prototyping or Simulation-Driven design in electronic design is commonly associated with functional simulation. Virtual Prototyping has a lot more to offer, from minimizing physical prototypes, reducing defects, and the time to market. We will highlight how engineers and designers can benefit from a new solution called PollEx for Altium, its capabilities to help produce a reliable & robust PCB by addressing issues like Signal/Power Integrity, thermal and manufacturing issues.
- Simulation is now the most integral part to product design success due to growing supply chain issues
- Reduce cost and time: how and why to build a simulation-driven methodology
- Using PollEx for Altium extension for board simulation and verification
- Create a more efficient design review process using Altium
- Benefits of using thermal analysis tool
- Design PCBs with a Free Trial of Altium Designer Here
- Connect with Harry Kennedy on LinkedIn
- Power Delivery Network Simulation Deep Dive - Part One
- SPICE Simulation In Altium Designer Made Simple | Simulation for Electronics Design
Hello, my name is Harry Kennedy, and I'd like to welcome you to my AltiumLive CONNECT 2022 webinar titled Simulate it First! where we'll be diving into a simulation-driven methodology. So, I wanted to start today by asking a simple question. Have you considered your supply chain? Have you thought about it? If you watch the news or have met with your finance team, the answer is a loud, yes. The lead times for your microprocessor are growing and the cost of your PCB is rising. It's more expense than ever to receive your prototypes, only to find out it's not functional and the components in the board can't be reused. Because of this, I'm here to tell you that due to your supply chain scarcity, simulation is now the most integral part to product design success.
We're going to find out why that is and some of the things that you can do to help build a simulation-driven methodology. Let's first start with the agenda for today. Today, we're going to touch on why even have a simulation-driven methodology. We're going to look at PollEx for Altium extension for board simulation and verification. We will then look at PCB verification using PollEx for Altium. Then look at PCB analysis using PollEx for Altium. And finally, we'll summarize what we learned and create some next steps.
So let's first understand the why. Why have a simulation-driven methodology? It comes down to saving time and saving money. This is not only done through problem solving, but also through optimization. Simulations allow you to problem-solve by identifying concerns and challenges before the board is released. Simulation also allows you to understand the manufacturability of your board. This includes design for electrical and design for manufacturing checks. Optimization can also be done using simulation, giving you the chance to redesign the PCB before it's for used to manufacturing. You can reduce the noise effects or even understand the thermal response of the board to confirm the layout. Overall, simulation and simulation data can help produce more effective design reviews. Being able to incorporate analysis and verification will easily pay for itself in the formal quality. And so when we're looking at quality, we're going to look at the overall system design. And there are many elements that are included in this. The typical elements of electronic systems.
We're going to start from the core and the main element being the printed circuit board. When it comes to designing electronic system, we do need to consider multiple factors that could impact its functionality, performance and reliability. These are factors like the electronics on the board, the electromagnetic emissions and immunity, structural reliability, thermal stability, and even some of the mechatronic elements, circuit simulations and the code that you may have that goes through some of the main ICs. Altair is a lot of solutions for the overall system. Before the printed circuit board, we will touch on and focus on the PollEx solution.
PollEx is a software suite that allows you to add PCB modeling, verification and analysis to your tool set. It's a complement to original ECAD tools, which means you can take Altium Designer, export this into PollEx and work on the analysis and verification of your PCB. We'll be using this as our main tool for today to understand how we can use simulation to create efficiency that saves time and money. Adding PollEx PCB is not an ECAD tool. That means it does not replace your Altium Designer tool. PollEx is a compliment to significantly reduce development cycles using its software suite. PollEx is a tool for PCB modeling, verification and analysis. PollEx will allow team members that don't have Altium licenses to review data and participate in the conversation. An example of this with be if a systems engineer wanted to understand the heat dissipation for a certain use case.
I want to share more about the PollEx tool and even how it integrates efficiently into Altium Designer to provide additional functionality. Here's an example of PollEx's Unified User Interface. In one interface, you can access modeling tools for design review, verification tools, analysis tools, and even some manufacturing utilities. We also have a redmarking tool that can call out portions of the PCB that are of concern. This is efficient for design reviews, with our multiple actions to follow up on. From a methodology standpoint, a user can export their Altium PCB into PollEx and then be able to save their project, including any analysis and verification done on the board. That PollEx PCB file can then be sent to other team members, retaining the analysis for further reference. As you can see in the image, a user can go quickly again from the verification to the analysis and they could save this all in one interface.
So I have a gift for everyone watching this, but let me first pause and explain why I'm personally invested in PollEx. When I first started PCB designing using Altium, I would create evaluation modules for new semiconductor silicon. Now, I was designing with best practices, but that only can provide so much risk mitigation when the functionality and complexity of that PCB increases. Again, I tried using best practices, but that wasn't always enough, especially for EMC performance with new silicon. I found that out firsthand. We received our boards and we couldn't pass industry to standards. Having to rework through that PCB design step by step with our signal integrity expert was helpful for me, but I admit, it took a lot of their time, and at that point it became inefficient and costly. Altair is making an investment in the industry to solve that specific problem, helping everyone from senior engineers to first year designers, like I was. Let's think of it as a late Christmas present or better yet, a gift for Chinese new year.
I'm proud to present that Altair is providing a free PollEx for Altium extension. That's right, no need to adjust your volume and we won't be sending you any trial codes. This is going to completely free. Again, that means the extension can be downloaded right from Altium, creating a single click export into PollEx. There's also a Cross Probe feature that will link between PollEx and Altium. Imagine design review meetings where the PCB designer can run signal integrity checks as part of their workflow. Also, think about providing the results while linking back to the Altium PCB project. The rest of this presentation is not about selling you a software, it's about providing specific examples of how you can implement verification and analysis tools to free up your subject matter experts, and give you the confidence that you will design complex PCBs the first time.
Ultimately, I want to help you implement a simulation-driven design methodology. And again, it's free, so why not keep watching? So let's look at some of the things that are included in the PollEx for Altium extension, and then we'll dive into the tool itself. As mentioned, we have a pull PCB modeler, PCB verification and PCB analysis. So we're able to look at DFM checks and DFE, we're able to look at signal integrity and thermal analysis. And we're also able to use the modeler effects of Redmarking to share areas of concern and better communicate with your team members. As a full version you'll add in more features and functionality, and also a power integrity analysis tool. Here's an example of the PCB that we'll be using today. This is going to be a demo board such that we can showcase the different features and also showcase how simulation can save time and money.
This is a six layer PCB with a few key components that I wanted to highlight. There's a four gigabyte DDR3 SDRAM component that we use for U204 and 206, and also an NXP4330 system on chip that we use as the main microprocessor. It's also good to note that this board does have some errors that we'll catch during our DFM and DFE violations. Hence, when we import it into Altium Designer, you might see the error markings in some of our videos. So let's first look at PCB verification using PollEx for Altium. In particular, the design for manufacturing tools. In PollEx for Altium extension, we have 53 free rules that are able and accessible to the user. This allows the user to confirm manufacturability using some of the same checks as the PCB factories. Things like minimum pad spacing, drill hole checks, and even more are accessible now to you using the PCB extension of PollEx for Altium. All the different rules that we're checking can be batch processed for faster results.
This means it can save time and money when it comes to efficiency of running multiple checks and even the iterative process of creating updates and running the checks again. We can use these DFM checks to create a more efficient design review process where we can highlight key errors of concern again, using the Redmark tool, or we can even export all the results to an Excel sheet that allows us to share the results with key stakeholders and even the PCB factories. Again, 53 rules are available at your disposal and we're going to dive into some of these rules right now using the tool.
So in our first demo, we will actually go through the process of exporting a board by opening up an Altium Designer and then exporting it into PollEx PCB. We will then use this to run some of our DFM checks. As shown, there are some errors on the board and we'll be using this so that way we can catch them in our DFM and DFE checks later on. Here, we're showing that the Altium for PollEx extension is already installed, and that creates a toolbar button for you to easily go from your design itself and export it into PollEx. With one click, all the work is done, and we see an instance of PollEx PCB open up.
This is going to be the free version. So there might be some grayed out features that we will highlight. We're now looking at a side by side view of both boards, both in Altium Designer and in PollEx PCB. As the user does shows there, we've actually saved the PCB as a project file in the PollEx that we can use later on. Now we're opening up the DFM tool itself. Shown here, we are able to change the environment settings. And in this case, we want to make sure we're linking to the ECAD of Altium Designer, so we can add a Cross Probe feature. We'll then go through and open up the DFM tool itself. Here, you can see there are multiple options to choose along the left hand side, everything from board spacing, traditional marks, and also some of the components that we'll talk about further down. A lot of the actual checks and DFM checks may be grayed out. We want to provide a sample of some of the key checks that you can run on your PCB in order to create functionality right from the get go.
For those that have worked on previous boards with this DFM tool, we can actually load up an already set file and import it into their PCB project. What this means is, again, you can save time and efficiency modifying the checks to your board and your factory settings, such that we can smoother and create an efficient pipeline for that process. So now with this previous input file uploaded, we're able to see and look at some of the checks that we'll be running, like PCB outline spacing, component spacing. Here, we can see that we have different clearances we've chosen depending on the items, which we can set up again in our input file.
We also have things such as whole distance, which we can change depending on the board and even via spacing. It's good to see to make sure that we can have manufacturability and not run into issues. Same with pad to net, depending on the thickness of the copper itself and the board, and also test points. You can actually identify test points and make sure that that process is easy and also understand and share to manufacturer, which points or test points such that they don't modify them, they're in the PCB manufacturing process.
When we're comfortable with this, we can start checking. As we've shown, we have multiple checks we're going to be doing to this DFM check. And so we're going to be able to patch process them for faster results. And now we can see the results of our DFM checks, where we highlight both what we're passing and also what wasn't passing. We'll not be able to go through each of the tests and understand where the failures are, and also Cross Probe that to the original board itself. Looking first, the outline spacing, when we click one of the problem areas we're able to see in the PollEx PCB software, where the error is, but it also Cross Probes to the Altium Designer software, such that you can see the specific component. And also you can see and understand where in your design you need to create updates to. So that way you can re-upload it into the PollEx PCB and run the test again. Again, another component clearance, also looking at components spacing. So whether we have some BGAs to other chip resistors, we can understand and identify those.
We can also look at pad spacing. And again, every time we go through a check, we're identifying and seeing the Cross Probe to the Altium software, as well as a test probes. So we can identify them, seeing if they're existing or not, and also some of the spacings between the two. In this example, we will use the DFE tool to verify our electrical on this board. As we can see, we already have the Altium Design Project open, as well as the PollEx PCB project. And we can use the same user interface to go from our DFM checks to our DFE. In a similar user interface, there is on the left side, some of the category items to check. Also, in this main pain, there are groupings that we can do to separate, that's by if they're high speed, or we can look at different component groups, and we can actually use that in our analysis for more advanced verification.
We're also able to upload and input file such that the settings that we've identified in previous boards and some of the rules, we can easily port over to this new design. In this example, I'll be checking a few areas. One being the copper crossover, looking at, if there are different traces that go over different copper planes and understanding that the differences between the impedances as it transfers over from one plane to another. We'll also be looking at the board's net clearances, making sure that certain nets that are important or that need to have very low noise are not closely board edge, where it can be susceptible.
And we also added another check in just for the ease of adding multiple checks and multiple verifications by the click of a button to turn them on and off. Now we're doing the verification. As you can see, it's batch processed and all the results have been calculated and we can look at some of the errors. This first example showcases in our PollEx PCB, how we have an issue with a net going over two different copper planes. An Altium at Cross Probes. And since the layer stacks are been highlighted, we'll have to rotate the board a little bit to showcase where the issue is.
This shows one of the advantages from having your PollEx PCB software right next to the Altium Designer software, and being able to Cross Probe between the two. We now can go with some of our other checks that we have, in this case, some of our nets and how closely they are to the board edge. This is important because as you can see, there are certain components that may influence the design. And when you're having design reviews, you're able to understand more than just looking at it from a single view of the layers, but also maybe, yeah, the part models right next to it in your Altium Designer. And we can understand this is a critical part, can we move the footprint, such that we can have more spacing for the nets if they're both on the same layer? I'm able to do this for multiple parts of the PCB.
And finally, we can check some of our differential pairs and look at the length and width of them. So we run the verification and we're able to look at, again, certain areas that may be a problem while Cross Probing into our Altium solution, understanding more and adding more detail into the full run overall area of concern. As a PCB designer, you can use these tools to efficiently analyze and verify your setup and your PCB before your design reviews. This allows you to already have cases of concern or already have areas to highlight to your PCB manufacturer or other system matter experts. So now we're going to look at an example, using single integrity and the analysis tools. We first have to start by setting up our input parameters, such that we can have accurate results. In this case, we'll start by looking at the materials and we're able to add dielectric materials, as well as selecting a few on the list shown here.
This is helpful because as you start choosing what laminates you'll want to use for your PCB, you're able to input the properties within your PollEx PCB solution, again, for creating efficient and accurate results. We're also able to look at the board stack up. As we choose our laminates, we'll be going back and forth with the factories, understanding the thickness and even the dielectric constants of the version that they have available to use. And we can take that layer stack up from the factory and import it into our PollEx project for analysis. This allows us to changes the thickness, also the dielectric material, and even add different layers if we need to, for our design.
Finally, we need to add part information for some of our parts that we'll be analyzing. In this case, it shows that we can adjust quite a few things in this part, but for signal integrity, we're going to look at a few key things. So in this example, we'll actually look at our device model files, and this allows us to import our IBIS models, such that we're able to take food from the component manufacturer's website, import into PollEx PCB, and even adjust it for the pin count that we'll be using for the package.
We can do that for all the parts of concern that we'll be working with, and now we're able to run some of our analysis. We can see that finally, we have to bring in some of the net information first, and that's actually be helpful for us when running our analysis tools. So we're able to determine which nets are power nets, which nets are going to be our high speed signals nets, and even some of our differential nets as well too. This also allows us to change some of the information about the nets as well too. So we have that customization that we're able to use to create a more accurate result, therefore using simulation again, to save that time and effort before we have the boards built.
So first we'll look at network analysis. This is again within our Signal Integrity suite, and is available for you to use right when you download the PollEx PCB and the PollEx for Altium extension. We're going to select what nets we'll want to analyze, and also able to adjust things such as our pulse period and frequencies, and finally, even look at our input signals. We can define pulse data to adjust for certain conditions, and when we're happy with it, we can, again, reconfirm the IBIS models that we'll be using for this test. We'll use waveform analysis at first and selecting that net allows us to analyze it and create our output as shown.
So here we can view some standard line information such as our Vmin, Vmax, and also our input low and input high values. There are also options for us to change the colors, identify key areas of our graph and also look at the result data in terms of Excel, so that way we can look at the tabular format and export it out to our favorite data processing software. With the added view options, we're able to adjust our view area, able to adjust the labeling and have that full ability to understand and identify the results, but also the ability to communicate it to other team members in your cross-functional team. And finally, I show we can actually measure points and use that for again, better design reviews, better conversation and more efficiency.
Next we'll look at the eye diagram results. And so we have the eye diagram results, and we're even able to create eye mask that we can use, where we adjust the heights, look at the top and the bottom and middle width, and we can even move our eye diagram to sort of confirm that it's in within spec. This is helpful, again, for key components, we can create both a squared and a diamond effect to it. And again, key components of our system. We're able to use quick signal integrity checks, allowing us to now bring that power to the PCB designer, such that the subject matter expert can only be brought in when there are challenges, when there are concerns, and after that iterative process has been gone through from the PCP designer standpoint. Now let's look at some of our other analysis tools that are available using the PollEx for Altium extension.
The other tool that's available right when you download the PollEx for Altium extension is our thermal analysis tool. This provides board level finite element, thermal analysis, and this is done using an auto meshing solution. You're able to evaluate the top, the junction and bottom case temperatures giving, you a chance to understand what's happening throughout the full PCB section of the board. For our full version, you're able to create boundary conditions and even add in heat sinks in order to improve board performance. This is important again, because we're able to simulate the results and also simulate our way that iterative process of finding the best use case conditions that can help at a system level. Speaking of a system level, we're able to output the board to supporting Altair solutions, to create a system level thermal analysis.
For those that are using enclosures, for those that have a larger system than just a single PCB, we're able to use Altair's other software suites in order to understand first at PCB level, and then in a larger system level. Let's walk through how this process would look at before going into the system level by using the PollEx for Altium extension. So now we'll look at the thermal analysis of our PCB. Again, we're using the same Unified User Interface to run our thermal analysis. We'll need to add in thermal information for our board, including on the component level. Everything from the max power dissipation, operating temperatures, and also looking at the package geometry, all to help us create a more accurate thermal model of the PCB. Similar to the signal integrity, we have to add material data, and in some cases we can actually reuse the same information put in during our signal integrity analysis. I'm adding in a thermal paste in case that we're to use that, to increase our efficiency of understanding how we can decrease the operating temperature of some of our main components.
We'll also look at going into and adding and adjusting our layer stack up. We can think about if we were to use our thermal test to figure out if we're going to be able to use a thicker copper or if we can actually get away of using a thinner copper, a one ounce as opposed to a two ounce, that could save us overall costs, especially at building large volumes. And again, let's actually walk through the process of adding some of the information. So for this component, we can choose our functional type. Also, the package type, we have a few that are available to select from, and we can adjust the specific package, thermal information as mentioned. Everything from the body size, X and Y dimension, the body height, the mounting height. And also, we can look into the model data if we're using a two-resistor model to personify our package.
For the model data, we'll need our junction and case temperature and our junction of board thermal resistance temperature. This is going to be in Kelvin per watt. It can usually be found on the product's data sheet. In our case, we input it for three of our main components that we'll be using and understanding more about the thermal response. Also, the highlight in the full version, you'll also to be able to part link this from your library, such that you can import this data automatically
After saving the project, we're now ready to start our thermal analysis. Some of these options will be grayed out, including the Juul heating, which those extra features will be available in our full version of PollEx for Altium. Now, we're able to adjust some of our global parameters here, everything from the gravity direction, also looking at the board glue material. In this case. We can also look at boundary conditions and in our full version, we can add heat sinks easily through our dropdown menu. Running our analyzer, we're able to see the results of data and the product information we input.
So adjusting the temperature range allows us to have a better visual of the responses of our key components. And we can also adjust what we're looking at. So whether we're going to look at the top case of the component or compare it to the junction, and even looking at the bottom case, both from the top of the board and also the bottom surface of the board. So if we have these results, we can look through, understand what components we need to move, or if we need to add heat sinks. And we can also look at adjusting and exporting results.
Adding thermal analysis into your board will be very helpful when it comes to understanding how your board will respond to heat during these high temperature and high power moments. It's also another tool to simulate your design and understand how your board will respond such that you can have more effective design review meetings and fully understand your board before you send it off to be manufactured. So now let's look at a summary for our PCB analysis using PollEx for Altium. We're able to provide thermal and signal integrity checks to run throughout the PCB design process. This means that you can create an editor process for understanding how your board will respond using a simulation-driven methodology. You're also able to save or export results for review with subject matter experts, bringing them in only when it's time for them to make decisions and after some of the initial checks, initial steps can be taken to improve performance.
Finally, you're able to export other Altair software for full system level analysis. As mentioned, there are tools like ElectroFlo that can be used for system level analysis and bring a full approach to your PCB and your product design methodology. And again, we're able to incorporate power integrity, and full analysis using our full PollEx version. So now that we've seen simulation being used efficiently through our PollEx PCB for Altium, let's summarize by showing how a simulation-driven methodology brings more efficient teamwork along a cross-functional team. Having a centralized workflow means that different team members are able to come together during the design process. This is done within the design review meetings, or even within the tool itself. Let me ask you this. Do you meet with your design team or your systems team? Has there ever been an error to the miscommunication or lack of insight? Could more efficient engagement improve the final quality of your PCB?
This is what it means when we're saving time through our teamwork and also leveraging a centralized workflow. We're able to bring together team members that should be engaging together, that should be working and understanding solutions in order us to find issues and also find optimizations before we release the printed circuit board to manufacturing. Our whole idea is bringing designer and system experts together. Again, PollEx is just a support tool, but our platform helps bring the designer and the experts together in order to create a cross-functional team using a single tool and bringing it all in one interface. This creates efficiency and even better, a PCB designer can run thermal analysis, signal integrity checks, and also DFX checks before the design review actually happens. This frees up time of the subject matter expert, and that can only be contacted after the small iterative changes have been made, and they can actually see the results using the PollEx PCB software suite.
As an Altium user, you can download the extension today and implement any of the demos shown in your current workflow for free. That means you can start optimizing your design by improving your thermal response, or by improving the quality, adding DFM checks into your workflow. The link shown below is your gateway to get started. Let's understand more about what that means. When you go to altair.com/pollex-for-ecad, you'll reach this page to learn more about PollEx or to download the free software. This allows you to get started very quickly and efficiently and bringing that teamwork into your team, but also figuring out how you can create a simulation-driven methodology to efficiency and to save time and money. Again, use the link below to get started, and if you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me. I want to thank you so much for watching. If you have any questions, again, feel free to reach out to me via email and I also can be available on LinkedIn. Thank you so much.