[SI-LIST] : RE: [SI-LIST]: Spectraquest Vs. XTK/XNS

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From: Todd Westerhoff (twester@hhnetwk.com)
Date: Thu Nov 09 2000 - 11:30:15 PST

Okay, there's been enough commentary, so I'll throw my two cents in ...

Hyperlynx can't be beat for ease of use. Michael's original comments
reflect that, and I agree. Hyperlynx is the sort of tool you can install
and have running in a morning. On the other hand, the waveform display
capabilities of Hyperlynx are limited, so when you get to doing precision
work, or when you want to enter complex topologies (LineSim), things tend to
come up short. And .... since Hyperlynx is intended to be a *simulator*,
you can create and edit the PCB database only through an external CAD tool.
BoardSim will let you view, but not edit, the PCB database.

XTK is the most established game in town. It's a simulator, too, so you
have to create and edit your PCB database in a separate CAD tool as well.
Innoveda has a transmission line editor (scratchpad) and a few different
options for viewing the PCB database (PreView, ePlanner) ... but you're
still not really able to edit the PCB database directly. XTK's algorithms
make the simulation fast, and, because the XTK engine is an ASCII,
netlist-based tool, you can script it to do just about anything. Because
it's been around a while, chances are there's a switch somewhere to do just
about anything you can think of.

SPECCTRAQuest is the (relatively) new kid on the block, although the
simulation technology (SigNoise) has been around for a while and is quite
solid. The simulator is SPICE-based, so don't expect it to outrun XTK. On
the other hand, with the abundance of fast processors and memory, PCB
simulation speed isn't quite the battleground it used to be. SPECCTRAQuest
reads and writes the Allegro database format directly, without translations.
You set the electrical properties (stackup, model assignments, power nets)
directly in Allegro database and that's it. Once the database is set up,
you can run signal integrity & crosstalk simulations by selecting the nets
whose behavior you want to see. You can also "extract" an electrical model
of a pre- or post-route net directly into the transmission line editor, and
view/edit/simulate it. Plus, you can move/edit parts or nets in the Allegro
database, and, you can apply/remove/verify design rules that drive the
placement and routing processes with Allegro. If you've got a complex
design and use Allegro for layout, SPECCTRAQuest is hard to beat. It costs
more than Hyperlynx, and you won't learn it in a morning. For my money,
simulation results between XTK and SPECCTRAQuest are basically equivalent
(the finer points of each tool's approach notwithstanding).

And the end of the day - simulators are fine, but it's the ability to create
designs, run analyses, make decisions and verify results that brings
products to market. Keeping the create-analyze-decide-verify loop time down
is critical - and that means integration plays a key part. Our designs are
not simple by any measure, and SPECCTRAQuest is working just fine for us.

That's my $0.02.


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