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8 PCB007 MAGAZINE I NOVEMBER 2021 Nolan's Notes by Nolan Johnson, I-CONNECT007 Test and Measurement: Drawing Inspiration from IC Design I try not to sound like an "old-timer" but I've spent my entire career in the electron- ics manufacturing industry. Sometimes, "old- timer" stories just slip out. When I was first coming up in this industry, I worked as a so- ware engineer at a CAE soware developer. is was during the early years of the CAD tool industry and, while I was a junior engi- neer, I got to work on some of the first tools in the CAE space (see? ere I go…). For example, I worked with the engineering team that developed Mentor Graphics' ChipGraph, Mentor's first IC design tool. Back then, the feature sizes on silicon were in the low mils— right where the cutting-edge dimensions for PCBs are now. Given the dimensions, does this mean that today's PCB challenges are comparable to semiconductors, then? Semiconductors are usually manufactured in clean room environments. But PCBs? Not necessarily, even at these cutting-edge dimen- sions. e soware tools do not tackle the design process in the same manner, either. ere is a different dynamic in the two disci- plines, to be sure. For example, chip designs are built in quantity; the designs are developed from the very beginning to be manufactured en masse. For many, many applications. e cir- cuit board, however, is usually the only unique part of the circuit board subassembly; and is solely responsible for making the components work together. e board, in other words, is both the glue and programming interface. Back "in the day," semiconductor designs were typically run through LVS (layout versus schematic) and other simulation and verifica- tion tools to ensure the semiconductor design was a complete and faithful rep- resentation of the schematic. Given the costs for an IC fab run—mul- tiple tens of thou- sands of dollars back then and even much more now—the pres- sure was on to deliver first-light on the first rev. Still is, for that matter.

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