Australian-owned and San Diego-based Altium has recently announced the newest version of Altium Designer, its PCB design software. Announced on the 9th of October at the Altium Live conference, Altium Designer 20 is a major upgrade to the software's design environment and overall user experience (UX).
Altium Designer has very flexible use cases and is ideal for both individuals and design teams, and single and multi-board systems; plus, it covers the entire design process from initial PCB logic through to the bill of materials (BOMs). It allows users to create schematics and PCB layouts and then run simulations. The system also allows the selection and sourcing of components from select manufacturers.
Altium Designer 19 Versus 20: What's Changed?
The previous major release of Altium Designer was Altium Designer 19 in December 2018. Some of the major features of version 19 included the leverage of new electronic design automation (EDA) technologies and capabilities that enabled the accurate modelling of high-density interconnect structures, among other things.
According to Altium, version 20 features several improvements on version 19.
Altium Designer Documentation software graphic. Image Credit: Altium.
According to Altium, the major improvements on version 19 include:
Interactive routing: brand new ‘push & shove’ capabilities enable the routing of very complex high density interconnect (aka HDI) boards. It also speeds up design time—even for the simplest PCBs—by over 20%.
High-voltage design capabilities: AD20's new creepage rules maintain high-voltage clearances across PCB surfaces for the prevention of electrical arcing (for power supply and mixed-signal device designs).
Multi-board design: version 20 includes ActiveBOM capabilities. These include supplier search, live part choices, and BOM rule checking. These features are ideal for multi-board assemblies. Users can also export 3D PDF files.
A screenshot from an Altium Designer 20 dev build. Image Credit: Altium.
Altium has added over 200 suggestions from Altium Designer users and has also focused extensively on improving UX in this latest release. Version 20 features a vastly enhanced UX through a faster compilation of data, namely across areas like schematic creation, PCB layout, BOM generation, and design documentation. These improvements are altogether intended to facilitate productivity.
What is Altium?
Altium Limited (known as Protel until 2001), is an Australian-owned public software company that provides PC-based electronic design software (such as its flagship product, Altium Designer, covered below) for electronic engineers and other professionals.
Initially released in 2005, Altium Designer is a PCB and EDA software. Altium Designer is known for many feats, including being the first tool to offer 3D visualisation and clearance checking directly from within its PCB editor (version 6.8).