Electronics > PCB/EDA/CAD

Best of the Best?


Assuming money is no option, what is the best EDA option out there now as far as schematic and layout design?  I know some packages are geared towards silicon design but that shouldn't be the focus at the expense of basic schematic/layout functionality.  I'm talking about daily driver schematic/PCB design.

I know "best" is kind of arbitrary, but sometimes one option is so much better than it's competitors it's easy to say.  Is that the case now?  If you had to give a top 3, what would they be?  Is your opinion based on personal experience or industry perception?

Cadence Allegro including licences to Specctra, Hyperlinx and CST. if you want simulation, throw in Eldo and if you want RF throw in ADS or Aplac.
The above based on the assumption that money is no objection. You are looking at several mortgages and a yearly recurring additional mortgage ... ( and we're not talking single bedroom in a tree in boswana . We're talking Malibu or Miami beach ... )

The nice thing about Allegro is that you can at least start with one of the cut-down variants and work your way up. The learning curve is very steep, but it may be the last tool you ever need to learn.

I use Orcad PCB Designer, which is the exact same tool but with the expensive options disabled. It's still a hugely capable piece of software, though, and it'll load, save and edit Allegro board files. Moreover, it's "only" about £1500 (including Orcad Capture for schematics), which is more than the hobby grade software but much less than most other professional options.

The costly options begin with things like length matching, differential pairs and other fairly basic functions, but go all the way up to advanced simulation, collaboration tools, automatic multi-channel placement... all great time savers if you're doing complex boards all the time or if you need advanced analysis. For a single user working on the kinds of boards that one engineer can reasonably develop alone, these features have much less value IMHO. And yes, the costs of the top-end variants really are from another planet entirely. I beieve some of the options aren't even offered for outright sale, only rental.


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