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52 DESIGN007 MAGAZINE I NOVEMBER 2020 Article by John McMillan MENTOR, A SIEMENS BUSINESS "Once a new technology rolls over you, if you're not part of the steamroller, you're part of the road." —Stewart Brand Price is only one factor to consider when making a PCB tool purchase decision. Indeed, in EDA, it is a tool's differentiating qualities and capabilities, more than initial cost differ- ences, that, in the long run, actually save you more in time and money. For example, if your PCB design tool has a unique capability or functionality that can eliminate even a single PCB prototype build or respin, any price difference can quickly become insignificant. Likewise, if a design tool has capabilities that enable you to accelerate the design cycle by as little as 10% and gets your product to market faster than a competi- tive tool, it can quickly make a price difference irrelevant. Clearly, PCB design tools come with different capabilities and can be targeted for different electronic product spaces. Most importantly, perhaps, choosing the wrong tool for your designs can cost you dearly in terms of time, profits, and even the health of your business. It is essential that you fully understand the cost- performance measurements for each aspect of the products you are considering. But how do you know what to look for? This article describes seven important things you should consider when purchasing or replacing a PCB design tool or flow. By following these guidelines, you will help your company choose the right tools for your design environment and product markets. 1. Adopt Tools That Make Your Products Best-in-Class The PCB design tools you select should have the features and functionality to make sure your products are best-in-class. That is, the tool flow must allow your products to be designed optimally, reliably, cost-effectively, and in a single pass. The leading motivators for improv- ing PCB design, according to a November 2019 Aberdeen study, are shown in Figure 1. 7 Things to Consider When Buying a PCB Design Tool

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