Electronic Design

Distributed Processing Cuts PC-Board Autorouting Times

Rather than having to plan your autorouting runs for large pc boards so they can run overnight or over a long holiday weekend, wouldn't it be better to break up the job and run it on a CPU farm or on other networked computer resources? Designers know all too well that automatic routing, or autorouting, is a big bottleneck. Autorouting iterations on large boards can take days to complete. It's a process that's been screaming for relief.

Now, Mentor Graphics has brought multiprocessing technology to bear on the autorouting issue. Its XtremeAR leverages the company's Xtreme multiprocessing technology, enabling users to throw up to 15 CPUs at an autorouting run (see the figure). The result is greatly reduced runtimes (for the right designs) and efficient use of computing resources.

As alluded to, not every pc-board design lends itself to distributed autorouting. But for those that do (network switch cards, backplanes, and the like), XtremeAR technology lets your autorouter see all network resources, allowing you to see the current CPU usage on those machines. Next, the XtremeAR tool partitions your pc-board design and sends different nets to various CPUs. It then collects the completed routing jobs, performs design-rule checks, and reassembles the routed nets.

In benchmarks, pc-board designs that took two days to route on a single CPU took 18 hours using XtremeAR technology, which distributed the task across five CPUs. In fact, distributing the job across the maximum allotment of 15 CPUs reduced a large optical-switch card's (36 layers, 13,000 nets) seven-to eight-day autoroute run to 18 hours.

ExtremeAR is available now. It uses the same licenses as XtremePCB clients. (XtremePCB is Mentor's tool for distributed manual pc-board layout introduced in 2004.) This gives users the flexibility to use Xtreme technology on either manual layout or autorouting. Contact Mentor directly for pricing.

Mentor Graphics
www.mentor.com/pcb

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