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gEDA (GPL'ed Electronic Design) In EE Times 170

Posted by timothy
from the beyond-world-domination dept.
Stuart Brorson writes "At long last, today's EE Times published an article about the gEDA project. The gEDA project has developed a mature, GPL'd, Linux-based suite of tools useful for electronic design. Using the gEDA tools, you can take a circuit design from schematic capture, through simulation, to PC board layout and fab. Some example PCBs done using gEDA include the Darrell Harmon's single board computer, and the 'free hardware' Ronja Project. Happily, the advantages of open-source for electronics design were well presented in the article. It's good to see that gEDA is getting some well-deserved press for the excellent work which has been going on from over six years now!"
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gEDA (GPL'ed Electronic Design) In EE Times

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  • by Lisandro (799651) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @08:16PM (#11088070)
    ... which, for me, it's a showstopper and forces me to use EAGLE (which is excellent and available for Windows and Linux, but not OSS). PCB [sourceforge.net] seems to be powerful, but i simply cannot get accostumed to it's interface.

    The rest of the package is quite good though, and i have to agree, they've come a long way in these six years. Kudos to the developers!
    • by dj.delorie (3368) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @09:34PM (#11088771) Homepage
      PCB seems to be powerful, but i simply cannot get accostumed to it's interface.

      As one of the few people actively working on PCB, I can only say this: If you don't tell us what you don't like, we can't make it better. As with all open software, YOU the user are an important part of the development process, even if all you do is [constructively] complain.

      Recently, I added user-customizable menus. Have you tried changing the UI to do what YOU want? That's why I added it.

      • Didn't mean to diss, sorry.

        My main quirk is the lack of integration with the rest of gEDA - on interface and other issues; for example, on EAGLE i can modify a schematic on the capture program and have the changes reflected automatically on the PCB design, and viceversa.

        Having said that, i've just emerged PCB v1.99 (i can't recall the last version i've tried, but it was a while ago). It seems to have got quite better. I have some single-sided boards to design and will give it a shot - complete wit
        • i can modify a schematic on the capture program and have the changes reflected automatically on the PCB design, and viceversa.

          Funny you should mention that, we were recently pondering how to do that. If you've got ideas or experience with annotation files, we could use the help ;-)

          • Well, i don't know how integrated is PCB with gEDA (under the hood, that is), but what could be done is to save a hash and name of the netlist file that originated the PCB file with it (if any), and, if the hash changes, between saves or during editing, adapt the PCB file accordingly. That would work if the schematic capture and PCB have no other way of comunicating with each other.

            I know it's easier said than done, and in any case, it's not a perfect solution, but it could work. I would help with the
          • dj.delorie wrote:

            Funny you should mention that, we were recently pondering how to do that. If you've got ideas or experience with annotation files, we could use the help ;-)

            That is the one thing that Eagle does right, and that most others does wrong. Download the eagle demo and try it. In Eagle you work in the schematics and the PCB layout at once. This makes it easy to update a PCB, make component changes and fix issues with the design afterwards. This works so well in Eagle, that I usually start wit

            • That's actually a pretty stupid feature of EAGLE. gEDA does it much better with gsch2pcb. Think about it: what if there are 50 engineers working on that particular board? You don't want a PCB engineer screwing around with the schematic and messing things up. You also want to be able to edit the schematic separately and annotate the changes to the board.

              Basically, the way pcb does it is the way any real EDA program does it (EAGLE doesn't count, it's a cheap product aimed mostly at hobbyists and very sma
              • You actually can just work in the schematic as well, then generate the board. If you don't like the board, you can delete the board file and regenerate a new one. You have to place all the components again, though.

                Also, eagle severely limits what can be back annotated from the PCB to the schematic - in fact, there seems to be very little that it WILL let you do in that direction.

                • You actually can just work in the schematic as well, then generate the board.

                  True, but with gsch2pcb you don't need to delete the board. You can just run the command, and it will add and remove the requisite parts and regenerate the netlist without destroying the board. My point is, a design engineer can make changes to the schematic while the board is being worked on. EAGLE will only let you do that if the two engineers somehow work at the same machine.

                  Also, eagle severely limits what can be back a
        • "on EAGLE i can modify a schematic on the capture program and have the changes reflected automatically on the PCB design, and viceversa."

          I wish I could get that to work with Orcad and PADS.. But iterating schematics while doing layout is a bad idea. It's a lot better to have the schematic finished before starting actual routing.
          You dont wast nearly as much time fixing things in the layout that got tweaked because you changed a part or package size.
      • Thanks to Mr. Delorie for his many improvements of PCB. I use very expensive proprietary schematic and PCB software at work, but am quite happy with PCB and gschem at home on my Linux box, where I make DIY projects. I'd like to reinforce that it's easy to whine (whinge) about features and capabilities, but a bit harder to code them.
      • Dj Delorie? Wow, a flash of wonderful memories from using DJGPP in a couple of big projects back in 1997/1998. Thank you so much for that, I had a great time using it

        Now I'll sure keep an eye in gEDA (as I was just starting to learn Eagle, I might as well do it right to boot and go with the open source product!)
  • by raider_red (156642) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @08:17PM (#11088085) Journal
    We payed millions and didn't get a set of mature tools from the major EDA vendors. How are they expecting to develop the same with no budget?
    • by Kjuib (584451) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @08:22PM (#11088123) Homepage Journal
      Never Underestimate the power of Geeks who are bored out of their mind!!
      • by Anonymous Coward
        "Never Underestimate the power of Geeks who are bored out of their mind!!"

        It's called "The Slashdot Effect".

      • Never Underestimate the power of Geeks
        ...who feel like they've been getting shafted with crappy tools, high prices, unresponsive and ignorant help desks.

        You can bet they'll develop an application without mufflers that will scare children and dogs.

    • We payed millions and didn't get a set of mature tools from the major EDA vendors. How are they expecting to develop the same with no budget?

      Sounds as if the bar has been set pretty low. If the major vendors are giving you immature crap, these guys might be able to do better, even with zero budget.

      It's sort of like the story of the software monopolist with the multi-billion dollar budget and the zero-budget, GPL operating system which might yet out-compete the monopolist's amazingly expensive OS.

      • by rewt66 (738525) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @08:44PM (#11088355)
        No, the problem is that users set the bar very high.

        See, OS kernels, compilers, word processors, and that kind of stuff are old hat now. There aren't any staggering breakthroughs being made in proportional-spacing algorithms these days. So OO.o, for example, has not too hard of a time creating a word processor that does just about anything anyone will ever need a word processor to do.

        EDA is a whole different ball game. The leading-edge designs that people want to do are beyond the capabilities of the current software, even the software from the major vendors. Users need staggering breakthroughs, just to make the tools adequate for handling the user's current designs.

        I'm not saying that open source can't compete here. But it's very different from "yeah, open source can build an OS that doesn't crash." That was a low bar that one particular vendor's stuff had a lot of problems with due to very bad design; OSS cleared that bar quite handily.

        • I have to really disagree with you here. Most expensive EDA tools (schematic/PCB type stuff) have been pretty much unchanged for the last 5 years or so.

          Look at all the pricey crap put out by Cadence, for instance. Their basic schematic/pcb tools have same interface and roughly the same guts as the Windows 3.11 versions did in 1992. And the programs have so many glaring bugs and omissions, you wonder how they ever made it past the QA people. Of course, gEDA lacks so many features and has so many bugs th
      • It's sort of like the story of the software monopolist with the multi-billion dollar budget and the zero-budget, GPL operating system which might yet out-compete the monopolist's amazingly expensive OS.

        It may become like that if, as happened with GNU/Linux, some companies get in on the act. Zero-budget is completely wrong. A fair bit of the funkiness in the Linux kernel has been provided by the likes of IBM and Red Hat. They are not zero-budget companies.

        If some company with a vested interest in EDA s

      • by SagSaw (219314)
        The bar has been set pretty low, especially for basic usage. I use OrCad Capture and Layout at work for fairly simple circuits (Generally small circuits for test fixtures and one-off projects). Way too often, I find myself wondering how Cadence manages to get close to $10,000 for two programs with as many bugs and quirks. For example, there is only rudimentary copy-and-paste functionality in Layout, and Layout doesn't always recognize a disconnected pin as a design-rule error. Capture insists on writing
    • There are mature EDA packages indeed; notably Protel [protel.com], which is quite expensive but powerful and let's you cover almost every aspect of electronic CAD.

      I think such quality can be achieved with OSS; in fact, the working parts of gEDA are quite mature indeed, like the schematic capture and SPICE simulator. OSS tends to move slower though, but given enough time gEDA could be there.
    • I like this line:

      "For engineers who just need to do something quickly and don't want to mess with commercial tools, this is what they use."

      Interpretation:

      I'm not really serious about this stuff, I'm just screwing around. I hope someone has a use for a logic cell that doesn't clock too well at yesteryear's bus speeds. Oh darn it, this poly menu is grayed out again, what do I do now? And why is that square on my screen red again? Welp, gotta run off to my shift at 7-11!

      • by bit01 (644603)

        I'm not really serious about this stuff, I'm just screwing around. I hope someone has a use for a logic cell that doesn't clock too well at yesteryear's bus speeds. Oh darn it, this poly menu is grayed out again, what do I do now? And why is that square on my screen red again? Welp, gotta run off to my shift at 7-11!

        Reinterpretation:

        For engineers who are not commercial software bigots. They use good software where they can find it and recognise that the software industry is becoming increasingly com

  • FINALLY! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Thunderstruck (210399) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @08:18PM (#11088086)
    The last time I had to design a circuit board, the boss told me to find a way to do it for free. We found some demo software on the internet that would print out samples of the board overlaid with a grid. (To remove grid, buy the software.) We then had to print to plastic and scrape the grid off with an exacto-knife.
    While I no longer do this kind of work, I am pleased to see future generations will never have to worry about irrational demands from the boss. (right?)

    • The last time I had to design a circuit board, the boss told me to find a way to do it for free.

      And the buy wouldn't even give you a pen and a pad? That really is tight...

    • The last time I had to design a circuit board, the boss told me to find a way to do it for free. We found some demo software on the internet that would print out samples of the board overlaid with a grid. (To remove grid, buy the software.) We then had to print to plastic and scrape the grid off with an exacto-knife.

      Why not use paper & pencil for the design, take copper-plated circuit board, and scrape off the copper directly? Ah, anyway, just think of those poor folks in China that recycle some of ou

      • Why not use paper & pencil for the design, take copper-plated circuit board, and scrape off the copper directly?

        I've actually done that for small PCBs: one 14 pin IC and a few discretes.

        I've also laid out several PCBs as large as 10 x 10 inches using AutoCAD. Plot on paper, photograph. 1987 through 1991.

    • Protel Demo, Orcad Demo, Eagle Light, PCB Express...

      Maybe next time, use Google and look for "Free PCB Design Software"...

      • Maybe next time, use Google and look for "Free PCB Design Software"...

        Next time? Did you read the part of my post about not doing this anymore? This was back in the mid 1990s. How useable were Protel, Orcad, Eagle, or PCB Express demos in 1995?

        • More the the point, Herman, where was Google in 1995? Are you even old enough to remember those days?

          It may shock and amaze you to learn that there was a time BEFORE the WWW, and that up until about 1995-6, nobody except the geeks and some researchers gave a rats' ass. Hell, you probably weren't even aware of its existence unless you worked with it or were a Uni student.

          Kids today. Think fucking Google can solve all their problems, anyway.
  • Mixed-Up. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    So how well do the OSS tools do with mixed-signal designs?
    • Re:Mixed-Up. (Score:4, Informative)

      by Lisandro (799651) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @08:40PM (#11088312)
      gEDA has a mixed mode simulator program called Gnucap [seul.org]. I haven't tried it, but seems to be quite powerful, even while it's still work in progress.
      • gEDA has a mixed mode simulator program called Gnucap. I haven't tried it, but seems to be quite powerful, even while it's still work in progress.

        I've used gnucap (formerly ACS) quite a bit and it is fairly competent. It is missing some stuff that has been in SPICE for a while (coupled inductors are one thing that come to mind). Plotting requires an external program (e.g. gnuplot). I'm not particularly bothered by the lack of a built-in schematic capture, though some might be.

        My previous SPICE experience

    • Anything that's comparable to Verilog and VirSim in their toolbox? What are peoples opions on icarus?
  • Give it time... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    (emphasis mine)
    dubbed gEDA for short -- has become, much to the delight of engineers who would rather go their own way than rely on commercial tools. It won't replace commercial software packages, but it does provide an alternative.

    ... yet. Every desktop converted to open source means one less commercial package has been sold.
    • One more skill commoditized overseas. As the great Stephenson once wrote, one day we only have pizza delivery [amazon.com] as the great American skill.
      • One more skill commoditized overseas.

        No, there are far more consumers of ECAD software than producers. That means, overall, industry and the consumer wins.

        ---

        It's wrong that an intellectual property creator should not be rewarded for their work.
        It's equally wrong that an IP creator should be rewarded too many times for the one piece of work, for exactly the same reasons.
        Reform IP law and stop the M$/RIAA abuse.

      • Well at least my night job's stil layoff safe for a good while.

        Mycroft
    • yet. Every desktop converted to open source means one less commercial package has been sold

      NO, there's plenty of room for commercial packages to run on open source desktops... what this gives is the tools to someone who otherwise wouldn't be able to raise the capital for a more polished, professional quality, closed source solution. It gives the closed source solutions proper competition... they can't just rest on their laurels, they have to improve what they're offering for money.

  • omg gimp sux because it doesnt do everything photoshop does, everything gimp produces is amateurish and will never be as professional as anything made with photoshop, gimp is free only if your time is worthless, etc. kthxbye

    omg gEDA sux because it doesnt do everything (some commercial product does), everything gEDA produces is amateurish and will never be as professional as anything made with (some commercial product), gEDA is free only if your time is worthless, etc. kthxbye
  • by Anonymous Coward
    ... not yet ready for prime time. As a former engineer who's done work on many multi-signal, multi-layer boards, I can tell you there are reasons why "professional" design/cad software costs what it does. My congratulations go out to the developers, but let's not kid ourselves. No one's going to be jumping on this bandwagon unless they "have to." Just as only a handful of professional web designers would use notepad or vim for web page design, only a handful of hobbyists will use something like gEDA fo
    • I haven't used gEDA but I do work in semiconductors and the design software we use is pretty complex; frankly given the small user base gEDA has, it wouldn't surprise me if it were rather behind (you need a fairly large base of developers and users to get a complex open source project going well, I think). That of course is no reason to be disparaging -- the better it gets, the more users it'll have, the better it'll get, etc.

      However, I think your bit about using vim or notepad to write webpages is a bit

    • ...only a handful of hobbyists will use something like gEDA for serious designing

      That may be true... this week. But many people said the same sort of thing about Linux, and it's running tons of servers now and is rapidly making inroads on the desktop. Firefox is currently devouring Internet Explorer market share. OpenOffice.org is a great alternative to M$ Office. There are plenty of other examples.

      You may be missing the point of open source software. By empowering users, any code that is used is

    • ``Just as only a handful of professional web designers would use notepad or vim for web page design, only a handful of hobbyists will use something like gEDA for serious designing.''

      Far more pros use vim than you might expect. Many of the tools available for web design have only recently become useful, and there's still not much that's very good for *nix. And yet, gazillions of web sites run on *nix, and many of those are built on *nix as well. Not all by a long shot, but lots.
    • I use gschem mostly every day to get my job done, and it just works. The interface is the best part: almost everything you do has a two key shortcut to do it faster. It took me about a week to get up to speed with it, but I don't even have to think about it anymore to churn out professional schematics in no time.

      That being said, the two areas that are lacking is the amount of symbols availible (I usually have to create 2 to 4 per project) and the lack of seemless integration with a PCB program. But I th
  • I am lazy and don't want to look this all up myself if someone else already knows, so here is a question: Left over from my undergrad project, I have a FPGA (XC4010XL from Xilinx [xilinx.com]) plus prototype board (XS40 from XESS [xess.com]), and have used the Xilinx foundation tools to code up some nice VHDL designs under NT. How can I do similar design work under Linux? Will gEDA suffice? Or, will I need a slew of other tools? Any VHDL environments? Or maybe Verilog? Something else? Are any of you super-smart /.-ers doin
    • Re:VHDL + FPGA (Score:4, Informative)

      by russh347 (316870) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @08:46PM (#11088372)
      Last time I looked, gEDA had no support for VHDL. There is a GHDL project that is sort of useful, for simulation only. For FPGA synthesis, you're pretty much stuck with the Xilinx (or other commercial) tools. Xilinx webpack is available for free (though it's limited), and I've heard that the command line utilities can be made to run under wine. There are also linux versions of the tools, but I don't know if they have the same availability as Webpack.
      • There seems to be a kind of a geographical divide between VHDL and Verilog, the latter being more popular in the US. There are many more Verilog tools than VHDL. Sure, you can get some VHDL to Verilog converters but that doesn't really solve the problem.

        For my course in VHDL [ic.ac.uk] last year, I completed the courseworks using GHDL [ghdl.free.fr] for simulation and GTKWave 2 [man.ac.uk] to view the waveforms. The combination was fine for my purpose but I can imagine it failing with more complex projects. For synthesis I can choose from too

        • I was actually thinking of simply switching to Verilog. One language doesn't really offer any advantages over the other anyway.

          Yea.. the only difference is that one (Verilog) is actually used outside of government/military projects and academia.
          • My professor called VHDL 'Very Hard Descriptor Language'.

            My guess is that is why verilog is used instead.

            • nah, VHDL isn't not that tough... I love it. (I'm using it for FPGAs with Synplicity Pro, Modelsim and Altera or Xilinx software so I do have an advantage of having great tools available.)

              and our company uses it far more than we use verilog...

              btw, if you are editing vhdl, check out the Emacs mode for VHDL [opensource.ethz.ch].
              It's far more powerful than vhdl editing aids in any other editors I've used.
              (And, yes, you *can* use GNU emacs in Windows [gnu.org] too)

      • The Linux version of the Xilinx Web Pack will be available (finally) in the spring, said a Xilinx guy who I recently contacted.
    • Re:VHDL + FPGA (Score:2, Informative)

      by auraleyes (201856)
      B4. What tools are frequently requested but are not going to be developed?

      These tools are frequently requested, but will not be developed unless somebody steps up for the challenge.

      o IC/ASIC designer.
      o A VHDL/Verilog simulator.
      The FreeHDL project will create a free VHDL simulator which gEDA will use.
    • The newer versions of the Xilinx tools (after 5.2 or so) run natively under linux. They're not free, but reasonably priced. This takes care of place & route. For simulation, there is a VHDL front-end to gcc which works pretty well (or you can fork some serious cash for ModelSim which is also available for Linux).
    • I'd just be happy with an open-source program that can generate a fuse map for any of the three common GAL chips from some high-level description, whether PALASM or VHDL or something else. As far as I know, the only "free" software out there is closed-source and is only available in a DOS version. (Maybe there's something for Windows too now, but that still doesn't help if you don't use an x86 CPU.)
    • Look at alliance cad [lip6.fr] for vhdl compiler, simulator and related tools. It's gpl and there are binaries available for a variety of systems.

  • Ronja (Score:3, Informative)

    by Libor Vanek (248963) <libor DOT vanek AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @08:55PM (#11088455) Homepage
    Just some info about Ronja - it has inspired a lot of similar projects in Prague (it's all developed by quite small group of ppl in Czech Free Net - www.czfree.net) and there are already running some prototypes of Ronja or derived (non-GPL) projects on 100 Mbit optical data link!

    Unfortunately, main Ronja HW developer - Karel Clock Kulhavy - is very "hard to communicate" man...
  • by SagSaw (219314) <slashdot@nOsPam.mmoss.org> on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @08:56PM (#11088462)
    about gSchem:

    First, the developer's insistance that power pins on logic IC's be hardwired, in the symbol, to the nets 'VCC' 'VDD' 'VSS' 'GND' as appropriate. Heaven forbid I have a mixed voltage design or have multiple ground nodes.

    Second, there seems to be no concept of scale to the components, or agreement as to how large a resistor should be relative to a transitor relative to the connection spacing on an IC. Capacitors and resistors appear larger than inductors, while all the descrite components, IMHO, are way to large compared to the connection spacing on IC's. This makes it hard to create a schematic that is clear and easy to read.

    While the interface is really pretty good, they need to put quite a bit of work into the symbol library to make it especially useful.
    • I looked into gschem a few years back, and haven't had time, since. At the time, it didn't have what it took for VLSI schematic capture, since it really didn't work well with circuit hierarchy. It really seems to be oriented toward schematic capture for printed circuit boards.

      On the other hand, on any given design I'll have many layers of hierarchy, circuits in circuits in circuits, etc. I need the ability to take any arbitrary circuit and create a symbol for it, so it can be used in another circuit. Furth
  • It's a good project (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jd (1658) <.imipak. .at. .yahoo.com.> on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @09:05PM (#11088544) Homepage Journal
    No question about it. I've been following it for a while. There are some hiccups (ngspice died for a few years, had one update in January, then seems to have died again) but that's easily fixed by getting it some publicity, so people know it's out there.


    I would like gEDA to talk with the University of Manchester, who have some excellent electrical design software for asynchronous systems. They've a huge pool of software resources which nobody ever sees because there's no reason to think it might be out there. (There's a Freshmeat entry for one of their packages - guess who added it! - but half of those who last saw it on the front page have died of old age.)


    There's a lot out there that could be used, pooled, collected and gathered. And, damnit, it should be. gEDA is doing a great job, but electrical engineering is a vey big field and gEDA doesn't cover more than a tiny fraction of the problem-space.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      FYI, ngspice [sourceforge.net] issued a release on September 5, 2004. When did Berkeley Spice have a last release? Oh, maybe 5 or 6 years ago (it's officially dead--no more updates from Berkeley).

      Ngspice is a vast improvement its predecessor in at least one important area: Ngspice is eminently hackable and fixable because it uses normal makefiles and GNU configure. (Try fixing Berkeley Spice for a real pain in the ass. It has the most asshole make system you have ever seen).

  • Open Source in EDA (Score:5, Interesting)

    by wannasleep (668379) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @09:09PM (#11088582)
    Just few comments to clarify what we are talking about here

    First of all, EDA (Electronic Design Automation) is a 30+ years old industry (maybe even 40+, but I wasn't born then). It spans tools whose cost goes from hundreds dollars to few hundred thousands dollars per license. It also spans several fields, from computer science, to systems theory, to physics, to micro-electronics, to chemistry, etc. etc.

    The typical flows for a successfull tools are:
    • a PhD student or his advisor has an idea, writes papers about it and maybe even implements it. Then he starts a company and they make milions with it. Synopsys and Cadence (the two biggest players of the market) were started like that.
    • The same people have an idea and actually have a full implementation and they sustain the basic research. The tool is put in open source fashion (rarely is GPL'd) and every company can modify it. The shiniest example is SPICE [berkeley.edu]. The first version was written more than 30 years ago. Berkeley still owns it and everybody implements variants that are more or less compatible. Either Commercial eda tools (HSPICE, spectre, eldo, adssim) or proprietary implementations that are used within a company (TI spice, ST spice, motorola own spice, etc.). Analog design wouldn't exist without spice.
    • Companies try to dominate the market. They figure out that they need to develop and control a platform. They make it open source (of course all its products work on it, more or less). An example is Cadence with open access [si2.org]. The idea of course is opposed by competitors who try to pass their own platform. Eventually they will reach an agreement

    Of course, there are plenty of others, like magma's case and also plenty of unsuccessfull ventures, but in general EDA has benefitted a lot from open source, and some of the biggest names in the university are still open source fans.
    • EDA is indeed 40+ years old. Next year will be the 42nd Design Automation Conference (though the first couple of conferences had a different name).
    • Actually, Cadence most definitely did not start the way you describe, from a PhD candidate's original research. Cadence then, as now, was built by merger. The original merger was ECAD and SDA, followed shortly by the acquisition of Gateway Design (Verilog-XL), HLDS, CCT, Ambit, Quickturn, Simplex, Get2Chip, etc.

      As a cynical EDA user, I would tell you that Cadence very very rarely (if ever) develops something from internal R&D.
      • Yes, you are right. Cadence originated from the merger of ECAD and and SDA in '89. However, SDA's (Silicon/Solomon Design Associated) was founded (in '85?), among others, by Richard Newton and Alberto Sangiovanni-Vincentelli (both UC Berkeley faculties), Solomon from National(who brought Jo Costello in) and another guy as a reaction to Mentor and other closed-source companies and their point was exactly to use more open source software (I have first and 1/2 hand knowledge on this). Also ECAD comes from UC B
  • Also try Electric (Score:2, Informative)

    by hexghost (444585)
    Don't forget Electric, an open source VLSI tool written in java. Sun recently interviewed the author about the challenge of rewriting it in java. Here's the article (with download) [sun.com].
  • Protel, OrCAD 9, Eagle... none of these can hold a candle to the ease and simplicity of SDT/PCB386. Pretty much everything has dumped the use of FAST keyboard use to pointy-clicky insanity.

    It ain't a word processor or spreadsheet, guys, it's electronic design. I can route by hand with a keyboard faster than I can with a mouse. pwb,cursor,cursor,cursor... piece of cake. Autorouters are getting better but still suck, IMO. And yes, I do new, modern designs (TSSOP, BGA and all the latest part forms, 6 l

    • Never used SDT/PCB386, but if your idea of new, modern is a 6-layer board, uhh... we have some 22-24 layer stackups for you to look at with several hundred thousand nets that need hand-routing. Oh and lots/most of them need balanced lengths (sometimes across a 64-bit bus) to within a couple mils, but the contstraints are normally specified on a timing budget basis and have to backed out to an impedance/distance spec, and possible field-solved first. Basically, these boards are starting to look like chips.
      • Oh and lots/most of them need balanced lengths (sometimes across a 64-bit bus) to within a couple mils, but the contstraints are normally specified on a timing budget basis and have to backed out to an impedance/distance spec, and possible field-solved first.

        What are you using for a substrate? If your timing budgets are that tight, the variations of even a short trace on FR-4 are going to kill you.

        I do recall Cray being into field solving of PCB's back around 1990 or so.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    [The GNU Public License] lets users download source code and do anything they want with it. But there are some ground rules if people start to distribute software commercially. For one, they have to make the source available.

    That's not a bad way to describe the GPL. Just delete that word "commercially" and you've got a nice FUD-free synopsis... better than what I read in a lot of magazines like InfoWorld, etc.

  • I used gEDA (mostly gschem at that point) back in my sophomore year in high school, (what 4 years ago I guess) and I thought it worked well, very very well considering that it was in alpha at that point I believe. I was designing a fairly simple board to produce some basic square wave output to a speaker for a creative problem solving organization called Destination ImagiNation [destinatio...nation.org].

    Of course, I wasn't designing a PC board to be etched, but just drawing the schematic up real nice. And it was by no means a pro
  • by gremlins (588904)
    Now we only need some place that can print the circuts once we design them, mabey even make your own custom pci cards, or opensource card designs
  • I was present (as a consultant) when the 500lb gorilla of the EDA jungle decided to try an "open" version of its sophisticated mixed signal, zillion component, object oriented, full design flow, database. I saw it mentioned tangentially in one post above.

    Does the Cadence license through Open EDA org [openeda.org] work for the community? Will gEDA's ASCII based text files allow us to pick and choose from workflow tools, handle complex, high device count designs, and hand off finished designs to current fabs?

    Am I too a

  • http://www.micromagic.com/ [micromagic.com]

    tools included: chip design (schematic capture), datapath compiler, full custom IC layout, and integrated layout system.
  • Unless this package has evolved hugely in the last year, I would not be interested. I originally compiled the FreeBSD port and was thoroughly unimpressed, so I deleted it. I suppose I am spoiled after having access for so long to Agilent and PSpice simulators.

    Now, there are just too many low cost commercial packages now, and cheap enough that I am willing to shell out the cash. For example, Beige Bag software (www.beigebag.com) has an excellent integrated schematic capture and Spice sim engine for a co

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