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84 DESIGN007 MAGAZINE I AUGUST 2019 Interview by the I-Connect007 Editorial Team Zen Liao, CEO of Simplify Design Automa- tion, recently spoke with the I-Connect007 ed- itorial team about his company's high-level floorplanner for autorouting, which allows en- gineers to pass their ideas along to PCB design- ers. Zen discusses the floorplanning technolo- gy and his marketing strategies as well as the challenge of getting reluctant PCB designers to embrace autorouters. Andy Shaughnessy: Zen, can you give us some background on your company? Zen Liao: Our plan as a company was to pro- vide a tool which could be very low priced, and even free for a certain period of time, that engineers can put their ideas for floorplanning on the PCB. Also, it could be a good entry point for people who want to use our router link. All of the large companies almost gave up the au- torouting solution for the whole board. This included the big EDA vendors that have been putting a lot of investment into autorouting. Now, they say they are focusing on interac- tive routing instead. A good example is Men- tor's sketch routing, but we still believe that routing the whole board is important and do- able. However, you need to do some planning on the board first to be able to produce a good result that is desirable for users. That's the whole purpose. We tried to provide hierarchical steps before doing the detailed autorouting. You do floor- planning on the tool to specify what bundle you want to route, which layer you want to route, which channel you want the bundle to go through. Shaughnessy: I was looking on your website, and you talk about setting up pin groups. Liao: Right, a pin group is only one way to spec- ify the bundle. You can select it from tools to form the bundle too because we're also doing pin swap routing. In that case, some pins might not have nets yet or a net ID. In that situation, you cannot select the nets. Instead, you select the pin group to define a bundle. We use the same methodology to define the bundle. Shaughnessy: So, you're optimizing the routing before you even begin?

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