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Broadcom Corporation

Broadcom used I/O Designer in conjunction with Xpedition Enterprise to lay out an extremely complex board with multiple FPGAs. They beat their project schedule by 66% and reduced overall errors to nil. Now, they are evangelizing I/O designer to others within Broadcom.

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I finished the complete board in 320 hours — one third the time we anticipated!”

John Mehlmauer, Principal PC Board Designer, Broadcom Corp.

Vernon Wnek is the PC Manager supporting the Network Infrastructure Business Unit for Broadcom. Vern was given the task of designing an evaluation board for one of Broadcom’s Engineers, Mark Lu, whose product was a quad network chip. Vern evaluated the schematic and using pin count and number of devices, he estimated it would require 960 hours to design, route, and verify a PCB design.

He assigned Mark Lu’s design to John Mehlmauer, Principal PC Board Designer. Together, they evaluated the difficulty of the job.In addition to three 1760-pin Virtex 6 Xilinx FPGAs, the board was further constrained by their fabrication process to .062 mil, and it could have no blind and buried via structures, which meant the board would have a maximum of 16 layers — 8 routing layers and 8 planes. In addition, it was a PCIE form factor, being 12 inches tall.

Up to this time, designing the I/O for FPGAs had been pencil and paper, and communications were passed using “Sneakernet”. “With the constraints, especially the net matching,” said John, “I was concerned whether we could route it at all.” They knew that another group had tackled a very similar project a couple of months before using their traditional design methodology. While they were successful, the board contained 32 layers with blind and buried vias…things that Mark’s constraints would not allow. Given their concerns, they made a risky decision: they would use Mentor Graphics I/O Designer (IOD) for the first time on this project. Although they have used Mentor tools, as well as competitor’s tools, for several years, breaking in a new tool with an especially complex design has its risks, especially in terms of schedule. But, they knew Mentor’s reputation for having easy-to-use tools as well. So the choice was made by Mark and John to use I/O D for the first time.

The board was successfully designed and went to fabrication. The final board was produced without a single issue and worked without any re-spins. And that 960 hour schedule… how did they fare against the estimate? “I finished the complete board in 320 hours — one third the time we anticipated!” said John. Further, he believes that there would be two to three times as many vias had they not used IOD. “I attribute the cycle time reduction to I/O Designer,” said Vern. There was some self satisfaction for John  Mehlmauer as well. “They had a bet in engineering that I couldn’t do it. But I did!”

I attribute all the savings to I/O Designer.”

Veron Wnek, Manager of PCB Layout, Broadcom Corp.

About Broadcom

 Broadcom Corporation is a major technology innovator and global leader in semiconductors for wired and wireless communications. Broadcom products enable the delivery of voice, video, data and multimedia to and throughout the home, the office and the mobile environment.

A FORTUNE 500® company, Broadcom is one of the world's largest fabless communications semiconductor companies with 2009 revenue of $4.49 billion, and holds over 4,050 U.S. and 1,650 foreign patents, more than 7,900 additional pending patent applications, and one of the broadest intellectual property portfolios addressing both wired and wireless transmission of voice, video and data.

Broadcom is headquartered in Irvine, Calif., and has offices and research facilities in North America, Asia and Europe.

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