by Sandy Jones in the Zuken blog
Editor: To see the entire blog click on the Zuken box on the right
As a former PCB designer from back in the day, I always looked forward to the next release of the software that I was designing with. Like a kid unwrapping a gift, I would open up the What’s New HTML file and read through all the amazing new goodies billed to make my design job that much easier.
To this day, as an AE for Zuken, I still have that childlike spirit when I get my first glimpse of what’s new in CR-5000. This year was no exception when I checked out Revision 14. As always, our talented Zuken software development team has released a bounty of new features and enhancements in the latest update. Too many to name, in fact, in this short blog – so I’ll do my best to summarize some of the coolest features that I believe you will be excited about.
Automation creation of differential pairs and busses
To begin with, knowing that the designer is typically the one who bears the brunt of the stress when the board is on a tight deadline, time is always at a premium. Any improvements that will help me get the job out quicker are at the top of my list. Designing with differential pairs is commonplace in the majority today’s designs, and if you have Lightning, you already know there are ways to automatically create differential pairs using the Constraint Browser.
But, for those users who don’t own Lightning, the Board Designer tool now has a means to create differential pairs and differential busses automatically in the Net Objects dialog. By defining pairing rules, high-speed objects are created in no time at all. And speaking of adding constraints, another great option has been added that allows you to define constraints onto a net or group of nets directly on the canvas. Through the use of the new function Set Net Attribute, constraints can be applied to nets, e-nets and differential pairs. This is a great time-saver when you want to add a constraint on the fly without opening up the Net Objects Dialog. Of course, the constraint may be viewed or edited in Net Objects later, and back-annotated to the circuit.
Annotation Function increases ease of use
When it comes to using a software design tool, ease of use cannot be overstated. While the phrase itself is probably overused in the industry, when you are sitting at a desk designing a board, anything that makes the software more intuitive brings a sigh of relief. Ease of use comes in many forms, and one helpful area is a simple way to convey information to/from the engineer or other designers. The new Annotation Function is something I found quite spectacular. You can enter design instructions, notes or any other useful information. That in of itself is cool… but there’s more! You can register this information together with a display status of the area being discussed, and recall a snapshot of the area later. You can also exchange information between the Board Viewer and Board Designer.
Reporting improved with Wiring Length Output Program
Reporting is another area of keen interest. I get hotline calls all the time with users asking for 101 ways to report on every imaginable piece of data in the design. CR-5000 definitely offers a wide variety of reporting mechanisms. The new one that caught my attention is the Wiring Length Output Program. This program outputs wire length information to a CSV file. Output options include e-nets, nets and pin pairs, with a filter setting to enable you to target specific nets with length-based rules. Plus, this report will also include via count, and min and max length rules as they are defined in the design rules, offering more flexibility when conducting design reviews.
Reporting in Lightning
I can’t forget to mention that there are also some great improvements to reporting options in the Lighting tool. I have always found the net statistics reporting function to be very flexible and useful, so I was delighted to see improvements, such as easier sorting of rows, changeable columns widths, and resizable dialogs. They’ve even added a ‘Lock’ option to retain contents of dialog when making selections on the canvas. These same improvements have been included with the Test Points Dialog.
Another area related to reporting is an improvement to the Length report and Delay reports. Hyperlinks have been added that enable cross-probing from the report to the e-net in question. View the report, click the net, view the net. So easy!
I could write a book on all the new features and enhancements that come with Version 14, but I don’t want to spoil your surprise.