SOURCE: Altium

May 22, 2006 08:00 ET

Altium Designer 6.3 Smoothes Migration to 'Next-Generation' Electronics Product Development Platform

Feature-Packed Update Delivers Significant Performance Boost and Streamlined Import of Legacy Point-Tool Design Files

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA -- (MARKET WIRE) -- May 22, 2006 -- Altium Limited (ASX: ALU), leading developer of Windows-based electronics design software, today announced the release of Altium Designer 6.3. This latest release of the industry's only unified electronic product development solution delivers a number of new features targeted at accelerating the design process, and includes upgraded translation capabilities for accurate, efficient and cost-effective migration to Altium Designer from other systems such as OrCAD® and PADS®. This ensures all engineers can take full advantage of the latest electronics technology, such as high-capacity programmable devices, and the new design possibilities that a unified development environment enables.

Today's programmable technology provides system designers with a whole new range of options in terms of design methodology that allow for greater flexibility, lower production cost and faster time to market. In this environment, successful design teams are finding that the traditional roles of board designers, FPGA designers and software designers are changing and the ability to adapt to these changes reaps major rewards. Altium Designer's unified approach enables all design engineers to take maximum advantage of the options provided by 'soft' design. Altium Designer 6.3 is designed to make the transition from board designer or embedded designer to 'super systems designer' easy and effective.

"Design teams are beginning to understand that the future of electronic product development lies in utilizing the potential of programmable device technology to accelerate hardware and software design. This means having the tools to approach design in a new and different way," said Nick Martin, founder and CEO, Altium Limited. "This latest release is all about ensuring they have the capabilities necessary to help them accurately migrate their existing design data, and the significant investment this represents, into Altium Designer. We want to make this process easy so there are no barriers to adopting the new design methodologies made possible by a unified design system." Unlike other vendors who charge a significant premium for migration consulting services, Altium's focus is on delivering automated, high-performance conversion tools within the Altium Designer system to allow customers to manage the transition process themselves. This allows them to move to Altium Designer at their own pace and lowers the total cost of ownership of the system.

Nick Haman, Senior Electronic Engineer from HepaHope, Inc. said, "Other vendors could not offer us a complete package for PCB layout and FPGA development. Their only offer was to either sell us or help us select the individual components and then work with us to integrate them all together. Altium Designer not only met all of our requirements but offered a single unified package for what the other vendors were charging for a single component."

Altium Designer 6.3 features a number of new and enhanced features to help design teams make a seamless transition from a number of legacy point-tool design products to Altium Designer. This includes a new PADS library importer which enables users to seamlessly bring in PADS footprint (pattern) libraries to Altium Designer. ASCII library files up to PADS PowerPCB® version 2005 (SP0) can be imported. Altium Designer's existing OrCAD® importer, which handles OrCAD Layout®, OrCAD Capture® and OrCAD PCB and schematic library files, has been enhanced in 6.3 to support OrCAD design components that include simulation data. This includes both simulation-ready schematics and schematic libraries. Altium Designer 6.3 also features a new unified PADS/OrCAD importer that creates integrated libraries from a combination of OrCAD® schematic symbols and PADS footprints (patterns). This importer also includes a Wizard that supports the import of OrCAD® schematics and PADS PCB documents into a single Altium Designer project in one operation.

In addition to easing the migration process for OrCAD® and PADS design files, Altium's own P-CAD® customers will benefit from similar enhancements in this release. Altium Designer's Import Wizard translates complete P-CAD designs, including schematics, PCB layout, and library files. The addition of an option to use P-CAD schematic and PCB hotkeys in 6.3 makes for an easier and more familiar entry into Altium Designer's unified design environment for P-CAD customers.

Altium Designer 6.3 also includes a host of features that accelerate design for current users. Those installing the 6.3 update will receive a significant boost to graphics performance in the PCB editor with a new hardware-accelerated graphics engine that makes use of Microsoft's latest DirectX® technologies. With this technology, Altium Designer users can expect speed increases of around 20x when zooming and panning, making the redraw speed on even the largest design documents effectively instantaneous. It also introduces native support for 3D rendering directly in the PCB editor -- a first in the industry -- opening the door to superior 'real-time' design visualization.

"The lack of support and innovation most EDA vendors give to engineers working in the non-IC design space never ceases to amaze me," continued Martin. "Making the best possible use of all available technologies and making the benefits of these technologies accessible to every engineer, designer and developer has always been our mission. This not only includes harnessing the benefits of the latest in electronics design technologies, such as high-capacity programmable devices, but also the power of the desktop itself. Our support for multiple monitors and now the use of DirectX technology are prime examples of this."

Altium Designer 6.3 release highlights

Data translation enhancements

--  New PADS® Library importer
--  Enhanced OrCAD® importer supports simulation data
--  New combined OrCAD® schematic + PADS PCB file and library translator
--  New STEP export for ECAD to MCAD data exchange
Board-level design enhancements
--  New hardware-accelerated graphics engine
--  A new copper pour (polygon) management system
--  Enhanced support for multi-track editing (multi-track routing and
--  Support for slotted holes (plated or unplated) in PCB pads
--  Improved polygon connectivity and speed
Library enhancements
--  New version-controlled database libraries
--  IPC-7350 series compliant footprint libraries
Programmable hardware enhancements
--  Support for Altera® Nios® II FPGA-based soft processor
--  Support for LatticeXP™ non-volatile FPGAs
--  New FPGA-based IP cores including: Memory controller with SDRAM, Flash
    and SRAM, BT656 Video Capture with DMA and I2S Audio Streaming
Software development enhancements
--  Improved embedded system editing performance
--  New Device Software Framework for embedded projects for improved
    portability of embedded applications across multiple target processors and

The Altium Designer 6.3 release is free for all Altium Designer 6 license holders and will be available in June for immediate download from via their SUPPORTcenter account. For developers wanting to evaluate Altium Designer 6.3 go to For more information on Altium or the latest release of Altium Designer visit For contact details of your local Altium sales and support center go to

About Altium Designer

Altium Designer is the only unified electronic product development system that allows engineers to take a design from concept to completion in a single application. Altium Designer unifies:

--  Board-level design and PCB layout
--  Manufacturing file editing and verification
--  Component information management
--  Device- and vendor-independent programmable logic design
--  Embedded development for field-programmable gate array (FPGA) based
    systems using soft and discrete processors
--  Project data & document management
Altium Designer's unified design environment delivers design flow efficiencies not possible using conventional development methodologies enforced by the traditional point tool approach. The unified environment also eliminates the need to purchase and integrate numerous extra-cost add-ons to increase functionality, or make up a complete solution.

About Altium Limited

Altium Limited (ASX: ALU) is a global developer and supplier of electronics design software for the Microsoft Windows environment. Founded in 1985, Altium released the world's first Windows-based printed circuit board design tool in 1991, and continues to provide advanced, easy-to-use and affordable software design tools for complete electronic product development to electronics engineers, designers, and developers worldwide. Altium is headquartered in Sydney, Australia, with sales and support offices in Australia, the United States, Japan, China and Europe -- and maintains a large reseller network in all other major markets. For more information please visit

Altium, Altium Designer, P-CAD and their respective logos are trademarks or registered trademarks of Altium Limited or its subsidiaries. 'Altera' and 'Nios' are trademarks or registered trademarks of Altera Corporation. OrCAD, OrCAD Capture and OrCAD Layout are trademarks or registered trademark of Cadence Design Systems, Inc. LatticeXP is a trademark or registered trademark of Lattice Semiconductor Corporation. PADS is a trademark or registered trademark of Mentor Graphics Corp. All other registered or unregistered trademarks referenced herein are the property of their respective owners, and no trademark rights to the same are claimed.

Contact Information

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