One of the things that is frustrating with Mentor is when you try to get data out for importing into other tools. It seems most of the 3rd party tools have direct import capability for Cadence Allegro .brd files, but seems like you have to jump through hoops to get Expedition data in. It could be that these tools do have a way to get Mentor data in, but the people asking me for the data don’t know about it (Please note, I rarely have access to these tools since they are external customers asking for the data).
What is Mentor doing to enhance their presence with 3rd party tools? And is it acceptable to put help tickets in for help with working with 3rd party tools?
Please elaborate a little more on the following points:
Do you have specific third parties in mind? Are you aware of the Mentor Graphics OpenDoor program?
Your message is clear enough (and maybe I am just a little "thick headed" today ) but I want to make sure we address the heart of your concern with our response (I do feel like I must be missing some information).
Some of the tools I have had requests from recently are:
Ansys IcePak - It can read in IDF, but it wants a .brd file for the layer and trace information. I read their website and it seems like they have ways to get Expedition data in, but the customer doesn't seem to have that option or know what to do.
Mentor FlowTherm - Sorry, had to throw this on in there. I have a question to some Mentor contacts on what data this tool needs from Expedition, but I haven't heard anything yet.
Ansoft SiWave - Can read the ASCII export data, but I have to decrypt the data first and manually create and decrypt the Net Class and Net Properties data since I am using CES. Someone from Mentor told me they thought this tool would now take the .ccz file format, but there person with the tool said they didn't see that option.
My guess in everyone one of these tools, there is a way to get the data in, but since I don't have access to the tools, I have to take the word of the person requesting the data. I think the real issue is the perception that is difficult to import Mentor data and not Cadence data. Sometimes gets very difficult to explain to management why I can't just send them a .brd file like the customer asked for and I don't want to give anymore ammunition to the pro Cadence people in the company (I'm fighting the good fight to stay with Mentor tools!). I think if Mentor pushes their .ccz format more, then that perception will go away, but you have to convince the 3rd party tools to buy in on it.
Good topic! As you see by some of the other posts this is clearly an area of interest and after tracking these posts I would also hazard to say an area of some confusion. Before I dig into a detailed response let's jump up a level or two and paint the big picture.
Mentor Graphics established the OpenDoor program to allow third party solution providers to integrate with our solutions. Our OpenDoor program is aggressive and includes our biggest direct competitors in the PCB domain. We do not compete based on locking up your data, we compete based on the value of our products to meeting your business objectives.
We create two primary forms of "interfaces":
For those of you familiar with software development, APIs are well known, for everyone else: APIs define a process for third party tools to access our design data dynamically from software at run time (API's are "active")
Data Formats on the other hand represent a standardized representation of static information (typically in a file). One of the most common data formats in the software application world (not just PCB) is CSV: Comma Separated Value. This is a data format many would argue made popular by Microsoft's Excel (I would argue that CSV is older --- much older ).
Within Mentor Graphics we have two challenges:
If we never changed our data models it would be extremely difficult to innovate. As an example: The 2007.x versions of our tools use a new database format to promote globally distributed concurrent design (a task that would be incredibly difficult, even impossible, using classic "file based" design data representations). We resolve the conflict between "innovation" and "access" by separating our APIs and Data Formats into two categories:
Our Public APIs and data formats are stable from release to release. Following sound software design practices we help insure that integration with third party tools does not break when you adopt a new release..
The reality is that while we maintain separation between "public" and "private" APIs and Data Formats we are unable to stop anyone from accessing private data formats --- and occasionally folks who have leveraged a private data format are "burned" when we alter that data format.
This is one of the prime movers behind the OpenDoor Program: Insure that third parties understand and use "public" APIs and formats to protect the business models of all companies involved and provide our mutual customers with the best possible solutions.
Since Mentor Graphics PCB solutions are the market leading solution we have (and will continue to) invested an incredible amount of engineering resources into providing easy access to customer design data through our public APIs and Data Formats.
if you have any questions on the "big picture" feel free to fire away
Now, let's dive into your specific questions:
Yes, Ansys IcePak is able to read IDF (a standard "public" format we support). "*.brd" files are the Cadence format for their PCB design files. We do not generate the Cadence "*.brd" format.
It is worth breaking from this specific topic to point out a fact that many of our customers are un-aware of: Mentor Graphics and Cadence cooperate! Some of our tools read the Cadence "*.brd" format and Cadence has access to our PCB data format. Again, we do not compete by locking up your data.
Ansys IcePak is a direct competitor of FloTHERM (a fact you probably know better than I). It is not our intention to block access to Ansys IcePak but we are certainly not going to generate the "*.brd" format simply to eliminate integration efforts for Ansys. We have completed the work to integrate FloTHERM into both the MGC Board Station flow and the CDN Allegro flow to surpass the limitations of IDF.
We are certain that this is not the case. Mentor now own the RSI CAMCAD technology.
FloTHERM already has direct interfaces to Board Station, Allegro and CR5000 as well as IDF import capability that covers all other tools. The direct interfaces transfer all data needed for a detailed thermal PCB analysis, surpassing the limitations of IDF, extracting data describing layer stack-up, a full description of the layer/trace artwork and various parameters that describe the thermal behavior of components. We are in the process of developing a direct interface to Expedition to the same level of data extraction. This interface will be available with the next major release of FloTHERM.
Our recommendation would be to export CSV data from CES and work directly with that "public" format.
You also might want to take a look at HyperLynx Power Integrity (PI)
Out here on the farm the corollary is: "You may lead a horse to water but you can't make the horse drink the water"
We do everything humanly possible to insure that "your design data" is under "your control". This includes the ability to take your design data and move it to a third party or competitive tool.
One of the reasons we created the OpenDoor program was to help alleviate these types of clashes for our customers. We work with the third parties via open door to validate the interfaces so that you don't have to.
It is an interesting challenge that often is easily resolved when all of the contributors come to a common table. We have endeavored to create that common table with our OpenDoor program but that does not imply we have been able to convince all third parties to "drink the water".
I don't think you understand the purpose behind CCZ --- it is not intended to be the "ultimate integration data format". It is a very nice (lightweight) neutral and flexible format. It certainly has it's place in the integration space but using the right API or data format for the appropriate task is critical.
I do not want to leave a false impression that CCZ is what everyone should focus their "integration" attention on.
If you have a current maintenance agreement with Mentor, Yes, it is acceptable to put help tickets in for help with Mentor tools working with 3rd party tools.
The support engineers will assist with their “best effort” in solving the issue depending on our access to the 3rd party tool and our business relationship with the vendor.
I don't know if you or any one on your team has had a chance to check out some of the content for HyperLynx PI, but we've got some on-demand webinars at the following locations if you want to learn more.
General overview on power integrity design with Eric Bogatin
DC Drop analysis with HyperLynx PI
Generally speaking, HyperLynx PI can help you in designing and verifying your AC (IC switching noise and decoupling design) and DC (VRM to IC) power distribution analysis requirements. We designed HyperLynx PI with the hardware engineer in mind because we know not everyone can have a power integrity expert on their team and even if you do, that person can quickly become a bottleneck. We set out with a goal to bring power integrity analysis to all engineers, not just the guru (although a guru could use this tool too), and I hope that is reflected in the tool when you get a chance to take a look.
One final note, we recently started beta of HyperLynx PI 8.1 which introduces post-route decoupling analysis to HyperLynx PI. If you were interested in taking a look at this beta, please shoot me a private message with your contact info and I can get you signed up for this.
I think Mentor has done a pretty job of keeping my group informed on this tool. Taylor Shull has done some presentations to us and has offered to work with us as we move forward with this tool. The people I deal with at Mentor is one of the reason I like working with Mentor tools and fought so hard for my group to stay on this toolset. Taylor, Patrick Griffin, John Burke, and others have always made themselves available when needed.
Well, it's a standard story again
Mentor (and other campanies) are open till the moment they face a direct competitor. They want to protect their investments and make money. This is what is business about. This leads to more or less tight tying of the customer to selected CAD vendor or even design flow. This is natural and normal.
In turn engineers want CADs of different manufacturers to share common publicly available formats, they want to be able to easily change design tools depending on task. They don't want to be tied to anything
And this is normal and natural too.
The reality of the industry is a balance between these two trends. I think Mentor makes a good progress in their openness and this is not because they support export to all public and proprietary formats but because they provide access to design data over automation. I strongly believe that in some time there will be third-party translators available even for direct competitors
Perhaps Dave could give us a list of current Public and Private data formats that Expedition supports? As far as I understand CCZ is considered private and it's not recommended to use it as a "Holy Grail generic PCB data format", right?
Indeed most of 3rd party tools can support to import Allegro database because Allegro being widely used these years. I believe those vendors also will support to import Expeditionpcb database while Expeditionpcb get more and more adopition worldwide. For your mentioned tools' status about intergration with Expeditionpcb, Here is the what I known:
To hook with layout database, User have to have Ansoftlinks which supporting to import layout database from Allegro, Expeditionpcb, Powerpcb etc. Beginning in Ansoftlinks 4.3, It have integrated with Expedtionpcb just like the integration with Allegro, User can send directly to SIwave from Expeditionpcb by simply clicking the added Ansoft menu( the interface will output all hkp files and decrypted it). The Ansoft interface does't support Expeditionpcb 2007.6/2007.7, however you can edit the vb code by changing the string from" 2007.3 "to "2007.6"/"2007.7". I have validated it on 2007.6, but not in 2007.7(I haven't this version).
From version 8.X, Flotherm and Flothermal.pcb support to import Gerber data ,so you can import traces in Expeditionpcb via this way. I guess that Mentor may use .hyp file late or use .xml file. the only thing make me puzzled is that no advance taken by Mentor from the acquring.
It also support to read in gerber data. it's a licensed feature and it's a 3rd party utility,not from Ansys. It works well.
For CCZ, I believe thare is a long period to make the industry adop it.
Before Ansys acquring FluentI, Ansys acquired Taspcb which using RSI's CAMCAD as EDA data translator. Late, Ansys re-banded Taspcb as Iceboard 11. I guess Ansys have stopped it now.
I haven't Icepak 12 but I think there is no CAMCAD in it's package forever.