Evaluation design for a chip manufacturer

As part of their product definition process the chip manufacturer develops an evaluation PCB that demonstrates the IC’s full capabilities for their potential customers. A second function of the PCB is to aid the implementation in the end-user’s environment. Cost was a major focus of the design team.

The design challenges centred-around a large pin count BGA that has multiple interfaces to external devices as well as the latest on-board DDR memory. The device can be configured for a number of operational conditions and this increased the complexity of the design.

The majority of routes on the PCB required either single-ended or differential impedance control. The high number of interfaces used on the design lead to its own challenges as each protocol required its own set of routing requirements. i.e the DDR memory required specific net topologies and delay matching both per bank and then across banks.

Our experience of designing using these technologies helped quickly establish strategies and constraints to achieve the requirements specific to the protocols used, while defining a stackup to meet both electrical and cost performance . The design functions well within spec.

Start-up company rapid-prototype support

The start-up had developed a new key piece of IP to improve data communications.  As part of their product plan they had decided to work with key partners who could provide the layout and manufacturing capability and expertise that they did not have in-house.

We worked closely with the start-up to guarantee that the design requirements were met; this included collaboration on the RF elements to ensure that circuit performance could be achieved while ensuring a manufacturable board stackup using FR4. Our tight links with the fabricator meant that we could quickly and easily investigate and suggest solutions that meeting the requirements.

A key milestone was the delivery of a working prototype by the autumn of 2011. Out-sourcing the PCB design and manufacture enabled the customer to concentrate on the technical product development. The board was successfully demonstrated in the autumn of that year.  

BoardStation to Expedition Enterprise migration support

The customer decided to move from their existing BoardStation/RE flow to the Expedition Enterprise flow to take advantage of the new features and technology.

As part of the migration process the customer decided to take the opportunity to rationalise their company-wide library, removing redundancy where appropriate. A number of current projects were also transitioned to the new flow. These designs were identified as ‘live’ projects that would not only benefit from the new features of the design toolset but also form the basis of future product development.

With TBS‘s extensive knowledge of both the software design processes and environments we were able to help guide the customer successfully through the migration. Our understanding of both toolsets enabled us to transition the layout engineers into new ways of working becoming effective sooner. As part of the deliverables we developed a procedure so that the customer could carry-out future migrations as required.