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May 2016 • The PCB Design Magazine 9 Andy Shaughnessy is managing editor of The PCB Design Magazine. He has been covering PCB design for 16 years. He can be reached by clicking here. A few takeways: None of these designers thought much of solder mask-defined pads, because they create more problems than they solve. • They don't trust CAD vendors' libraries, and there's not much love for OEMs' libraries either. One designer said he spends hours re- inventing the wheel designing footprints he's used before. • They didn't see much hope for the new "pay per use" license being floated by compa- nies like ANSYS. One designer said that soon they'd all be back renting mainframe time like it was 1987 all over again. • As always, most designers at the roundta- ble have a love/hate relationship with their EDA tools. One Cadence user said he really loves his tool's horsepower, but he's glad Dal Tools makes Cadence tools work better. • None of these attending designers, or even their companies, use signal integrity or EMC simulation. One designer said, "All of the simu- lation in the chip is already done." • Most of these designers don't like updat- ing their EDA tools because each new rev of the tool contains even more errors than the previ- ous rev. I told the crowd about Dale Parker's keynote at the IPC APEX EXPO Design Forum. I asked what they thought about Dale's assertion that the 1990s-era code for most EDA tools should be rewritten from scratch, with native artificial intelligence built in. Most of them thought AI had no place in EDA tools. One designer said, "But we're the artificial intelligence!" I was glad to see more designers attending the roundtable this year, and even happier to see some designers without a drop of grey hair. We're seeing more and more "youngsters" all the time. Is this industry finally turning hip and cool? Control vs. Automation This month, we take on a subject that's come up in various surveys we've conducted over the past year: How much automation is too much in your design tool? How much manual con- trol should a designer have? Some of you appar- ently turn everything off, and wish you could go back to hand-taping, while others want as much automation as you can get. In our cover story, Abby Monaco of Inter- cept Technology discusses the changing land- scape of PCB design tools, and lays out some of the steps Intercept has taken to provide more automation and greater control, along with the attendant trade-offs. In an interview, UTC's Stephen V. Chavez, a frequent speaker at the Design Forum, explains why he prefers a combination of control and automation, and why mastery of your tool is paramount. Guest Editor Kelly Dack discusses, in an interview, why he prefers manual control for tasks such as autorouting, and why such preferences are usually based on a performance problem found in full automatic mode. And columnist Barry Olney explains why Dale Park- er's push for AI in EDA tools is dead-on, starting with automating many of the repetitious tasks involved in every design. What do you think about the idea of having artificial intelligence built into your EDA tools? Let me know what you think! PCBDESIGN THE DESIGNER ROUNTABLE ROUNDUP

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