Do you think PCB Layout Designers is an Endangered Species?
2018-11-24 10:15Writer: qyadminReading:
There have been a spate of recent announcements about astoundingly cunning PCB Layout technology. Two proclamations in particular spring to mind: New Cadence TimingVision Technology Speeds PCB Interface Design and Mentor's Xpedition: Putting More Power Into Your Mouse.
When I was being briefed by the guys and gals at Mentor Graphics, one topic really struck a chord. They were saying that a lot of the technology their company was developing was intended to make the layout tools understandable and usable by design engineers. One reason for this is that PCB layout now involves a lot of tradeoffs that require a mix of design engineer and layout designer knowledge. Another reason is that layout designers are starting to retire, and not many young folks are stepping forward to take their place.
According to Mentor, within a decade or so, layout designers may have to be placed on the "endangered species" list. Ever since I heard this, a number of thoughts have been rattling around in the back of my mind.
How did we find ourselves in this situation? Here's how I remember things. I would be really interested to hear if you agree or disagree. Also, my knowledge is based on what I've seen in England and America. I'd be very interested in input from people in other countries.
Just to make sure we're all tap dancing to the same drumbeat, I use the term "design engineers" to refer to the guys and gals who design the circuit and capture the schematics. The term "layout designers" refers to the chaps and chappesses who place and route the components and tracks on the PCB.
When I was starting my career, circuit board layout was often done by hand by sticking colored tape on transparent sheets of plastic. (See How It Was: PCB Layout from Rubylith to Dot and Tape to CAD.) At that time, one way to spot layout designers -- in addition to the hunched shoulders and nervous twitches -- was the fact that they never wore wooly pullovers. Errant fibers could become incorporated into the design and cause short circuits when the board was fabricated.