Free Trials

Download a free trial to find out which Altium software best suits your needs

Altium Online Store

Buy any Altium Products with few clicks or send us your quote to contact our sales


Download the latest in PCB design and EDA software

  • Altium Designer

    Complete Environment for Schematic + Layout

  • CircuitStudio

    Entry Level, Professional PCB Design Tool

  • CircuitMaker

    Community Based PCB Design Tool


    Agile PCB Design For Teams

  • Altium 365

    Connecting PCB Design to the Manufacturing Floor

  • Altium Concord Pro

    Complete Solution for Library Management

  • Octopart

    Extensive, Easy-to-Use Component Database

  • PDN Analyzer

    Natural and Effortless Power Distribution Network Analysis

  • See All Extensions
  • Live Courses

    Learn best practices with instructional training available worldwide

  • On-Demand Courses

    Gain comprehensive knowledge without leaving your home or office

  • Altium 365 Viewer

    View & Share electronic designs in your browser

  • Altium Designer 20

    The most powerful, modern and easy-to-use PCB design tool for professional use


    Annual PCB Design Summit

    • Forum

      Where Altium users and enthusiasts can interact with each other

    • Blog

      Our blog about things that interest us and hopefully you too

    • Ideas

      Submit ideas and vote for new features you want in Altium tools

    • Bug Crunch

      Help make the software better by submitting bugs and voting on what's important

    • Wall

      A stream of events on AltiumLive you follow by participating in or subscribing to

    • Beta Program

      Information about participating in our Beta program and getting early access to Altium tools

    All Resources

    Explore the latest content from blog posts to social media and technical white papers gathered together for your convenience

    Altium Online Store

    Buy any Altium Products with few clicks or send us your quote to contact our sales


    Take a look at what download options are available to best suit your needs

    • Documentation

      The documentation area is where you can find extensive, versioned information about our software online, for free.

    • Training & Events

      View the schedule and register for training events all around the world and online

    • Design Content

      Browse our vast library of free design content including components, templates and reference designs

    • Webinars

      Attend a live webinar online or get instant access to our on demand series of webinars

    • Support

      Get your questions answered with our variety of direct support and self-service options

    • Technical Papers

      Stay up to date with the latest technology and industry trends with our complete collection of technical white papers.

    • Video Library

      Quick and to-the-point video tutorials to get you started with Altium Designer

    Mark Forbes on the Evolution of Chip Technology and Origin Stories

    Judy Warner
    |  August 20, 2019

    Welcome back to the OnTrack Podcast. Today we speak with Mark Forbes, Director of Product Marketing at Altium, about the history of  IC development and how that directly impacted you and will continue to impact you and your design practices. Capturing some of the history is important so that we know why we do things that we may not have known happened 30 years ago - you’re really going to enjoy this deep dive into what’s happened over the last 30 years and how it impacts your career every day.

    Listen to the Podcast:

    Download this episode (right click and save)

    Watch the video:

    Show Highlights:

    • Mark has spent his entire career in electronics, equally divided between hardware and software.
    • PCB design has been dramatically affected over time by the trajectory of ICs.
    • The 8080 microprocessor exploded the idea that we don’t have to design discretely, but could program a computer to do all our functions.  
    • The main effect of increased integration on PCB design is that so many functions have been shrunk into a single chip and how to get those out to other parts of the board, is a major problem.
    • The higher speeds create more heat in these smaller spaces and heat dissipation/cooling is also a major problem. 
    • Geometry is a huge factor in why we are able to integrate more stuff on the same chip, for example in 1971, the geometry was 10 microns (µ); on the current Snapdragon, it’s 7 nanometres (nm). If you had a thousand-page book that represents 10 microns; one twentieth of one page is 7 nm. 
    • Now we’re running into some physical issues such as speed - the original 4004 ran at 740 kHz, and the Snapdragon runs at 2.9GHz. If you put that into perspective, if the 4004 was a car, and you’re going 60 miles ph, the Snapdragon is going 65 miles per second.
    • Speed has become important because of EMI/RMI. Back in the day the 8080 ran at 1mHz, and an antenna was a few feet long, none of the traces on the board acted as resonant antennas so, there was no radiated signal - only radio designers were concerned with frequencies and gHz whereas now, these concepts apply to the vast majority of PCBs.
    • We are getting near the physical limits that can’t be broken. For example, sometimes as you try to locate a memory on a pc board that’s too far from the processor, the electrons can’t get there in one clock cycle, which is revealed by data errors. We are now fighting the flight time of an electron. 
    • To increase speed there are only two things you can do: 1] more cores 2] change the geometry to accommodate physical limits which are the speed of light and the size of an atom.
    • Every time we leap forward with the ICs, it directly impacts board design, how do we keep up with that? Ongoing engineering education; online trade magazines; manufacturer seminars.
    • Curiosity is exceedingly important.
    • Where are we headed? In 20 years we probably won’t be using electronics… there will be some fundamental breakthrough.
    • Telling the stories of history will inspire more development, again, stay curious!

    Links and Resources:

    Charles Pfeil Presentation: Effective Methods for Advanced Routing
    Customer success story of increased yield rate of corn 

    Learn, connect, and get inspired at AltiumLive 2019: Annual PCB Design Summit.

    About Author

    About Author

    Judy Warner has held a unique variety of roles in the electronics industry for over 25 years. She has a background in PCB Manufacturing, RF and Microwave PCBs and Contract Manufacturing, focusing on Mil/Aero applications. 

    She has also been a writer, blogger, and journalist for several industry publications such as Microwave Journal, PCB007 Magazine, PCB Design007, PCD&F, and IEEE Microwave Magazine, and an active board member for PCEA (Printed Circuit Engineering Association). In 2017, Warner joined Altium as the Director of Community Engagement. In addition to hosting the OnTrack Podcast and creating the OnTrack Newsletter, she launched Altium's annual user conference, AltiumLive. Warner's passion is to provide resources, support, and advocate for PCB Design Engineers worldwide.

    most recent articles

    Back to Home