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36 The PCB Design Magazine • May 2016 as a designer and ultimately improve your com- pany's success. Shaughnessy: For your day-to-day design work, would you rather see more automation in your tools, or have more manual control? Is it just a matter of having the correct mix? Chavez: For me, I'd rather have more automa- tion in my tools. Being able to do tasks faster, work more efficiently, and producing better quality designs allows me more time to evaluate multiple options for better results and of course shortens my design cycle. With that said, hav- ing the correct mix is important too. I feel each designer has to figure out what works best for him/her and within his company. In the end, it's not the tool that makes the difference… It's the designer! Shaughnessy: In what areas of design do you usu- ally favor more automation? Chavez: For me, I'd have to say the areas of de- sign I favor more automation are as follows: con- straint input/edits/updating, autorouting, gen- erating outputs, documentation, DFM checking (Valor), design re-use and library part creation (symbols and cells). These are areas I feel where taking advantage of today's automated tools is a must and can be a game changer. Shaughnessy: For what tasks do you prefer having more manual control? Chavez: I'd prefer to have more manual con- trol when importing mechanical data from one tool set to another that contains constraints. An example, IDF files con- taining many different height restrictions and keep out zones within the PCB outline. An- other area I prefer more manual control is dur- ing part placement. In this stage, not only am I placing parts on the board to optimize the routing and meeting mechanical requirements, I am actually routing the design mentally in parallel. This way by the time placement is 100% complete and validated with an ECAD/MCAD verification and valida- tion analysis, routing goes rather quickly. Shaughnessy: In one survey, about 15% of design- ers said their EDA tools take away too much con- trol. Do you understand their position? Chavez: As I think about this question, I ask my- self: "Of those 15% of designers that feel this way, what tools are they using?" Let's face it, todays tools are much better that tools of the past. Of course, the more expensive tools in the industry today—Mentor Graphics and Ca- dence—have more automation built in and of course more horsepower. Knowing how to use it is the trick and be willing to trust the tool. As a designer today, you should be willing to trust your tool and learn how to use it to your advan- tage to be more effective and successful. You can be assured that your competitor is doing this. Shaughnessy: How often do you use an autorout- er? If not, why not? Chavez: I prefer to use my autorouter as much as I can in every design possible. In some RF designs and in some high power designs, it doesn't make sense to use the autorouter. Early in my career, I would never use the autorout- er. I just never trusted the tool that I was using at that time. As I progressed in my career and stepped into lead roles of large design teams, I learned and understood the importance of the overall design cycle. Knowing how today's au- tomation tools can be a huge game changer regarding speed, efficiency and quality. In my opinion, it does make a difference that the tool set that I use—Mentor Graphics Expedition— has an awesome autorouter. You just have to be willing trust the tool and learn to use it to your advantage. Shaughnessy: Do you utilize your tool's design re- suse capabilities? Chavez: I do utilize the design reuse but not as much as I would like. Working for a large Aero- EDA TOOLS: AUTOMATION VS. CONTROL Stephen Chavez

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