This is the first of a series of blog topics related to routing PCBs
My name is Charles Pfeil and my role at Mentor Graphics is one in which I always have a primary focus on routing technology and methods – although I do get involved in numerous other projects. I began in this industry working my summers in high school inspecting Ruby-Lithe designs for scratches and repairing them. Sounds rather antiquated? Indeed, this began in 1966 (some would say “way back” in 1966). I went to college to study architecture but soon realized that my passion for PCB design was so strong that I should pursue that instead.
After years of working as a job-shopper designing boards, I opened my own design service bureau, Sunshine Design. We started out with manual design and tape-ups. I still have some of those Mylar sheets with black tape-ups if anyone knows of a museum that might be interested them…I suddenly feel very old. In 1978, we made the change from manual design to CAD after getting two Racal-Redac Minis. During this transition, we lost all our customers who weren’t interested in CAD data. Fortunately, we were able to hook up with some customers who also used the Racal-Redac systems. At that point, CAD routing technology, both manual and automatic, became of great interest to me.
Since then I have worked at Racal-Redac, ASI, Cadence, Intergraph, VeriBest and Mentor Graphics. This industry has been very good to me and my career. I am grateful for all the wonderful people that I have met and worked with over these years.
My goal for this blog is to provide meaningful discussion of routing problems and their solutions. Over the years the routing task has become much more complicated, not only due to evolving component and fabrication technology, but also the need to fulfill high-speed requirements and manage the signal integrity concerns. I look forward to hearing your ideas and methods and hope that the discussions we have will help better equip us to solve the routing challenges that we face.
Here are some topics I look forward to discussing with you:
- Length of time needed to manually route a design
- Difficulty of phase match tuning
- The dense, tangled netlines between BGAs are hard to route
- The need to center traces between vias in BGA fanout array
- Fanout pattern complications and the difficulty of adding them
What challenges are you encountering? Are there any topics you would like me to add to my list?