Digi-Key and Mentor cooperate on low-cost PCB design tools

Digi-Key and Mentor cooperate on low-cost PCB design tools

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By eeNews Europe

The software is in the Mentor product family, at a new lower entry point than either its (high-end) Xpedition or its PADS offering. Mentor and Digi-key are emphatic that this is not free software (“We’ve got free software as well,” says a Digi-Key spokesman, “this is different”) but a fully supported and maintained software offering. It may lack some of the higher functions of PADS or Xpedition, but it is only capacity-limited to 1500 connections, six layers and 50 square inches.

The three tools are Designer Schematic, Designer Layout, which are the chargeable elements, and both give access to the Mentor PartQuest website. Digi-Key points out that while the tools will directly access its own inventory and parts database, there is no restriction to use parts or devices from its own catalogue. The jointly developed Designer Schematic and Designer Layout tools are available exclusively from Digi-Key.

For the first 90 days, Designer Schematic and Designer Layout will be available at a 30% discount, starting at $199 and $449, respectively. The product licenses are sold as an annual subscription, exclusively from Digi-Key. Also, for a limited time, the software is available for a 15-day evaluation period, free of charge.

“Mentor Graphics’ leadership in design software combined with Digi-Key’s connection to hundreds of thousands of design engineers around the world makes perfect sense,” said Henry Potts, Vice President and General Manager of Mentor Graphics Systems Design Division. "Together we found a way to lower the barrier of entry for engineers seeking better ways to accelerate cycle time from concept to prototype to production.” The companies make no secret of the fact that they are targeting the “maker” sector, but say that the tools are equally applicable to design starts in an environment where a board may later be passed to PADS or Xpedition. However, one estimate from the partners is that perhaps 80 to 90% of all boards can be completed in the low-cost environment.

Designer Schematic and Designer Layout come with free access to Mentor Graphics’ PartQuest, a fully integrated website that merges Digi-Key part numbers into symbols and footprints, reducing manual errors and saving time and cost. With these tools, design engineers can complete an entire circuit and printed circuit board design themselves or leverage third party PCB layout houses.

“The new Designer tools are perfect for the professional engineer who needs a reliable, scalable platform to support current and future design starts,” said Randall Restle, Director, Applications Engineering for Digi-Key. “With Mentor, we have designed an industry-first, collaborative EDA solution that accelerates the design process while enabling the engineer to eliminate steps and reduce errors while establishing a proven, long-term foundation for product design.”

As part of the collaboration and product development process, Digi-Key and Mentor Graphics completed beta testing which included more than 300 participants around the globe. As a result, the companies say they validated the need and market demand for an affordable professional-level tool for the design engineer.

Designer Schematic is available starting at $199 ($299 after the introductory period). Designer Layout starts at $449 ($649 per year going forward). A free 15 day trial is offered.


Mentor Graphics;

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