RS Components (RS) has unveiled the latest release of DesignSpark PCB, the company’s professional software for schematic capture and PCB layout. Version 5.0 integrates two additional features within the free design tool – online Design Rule Checking and buses – which have been introduced to further reduce design times for engineers and to minimise errors during the design process.
This new release builds upon the previous version of DesignSpark PCB released in October 2012, which provided access to the ModelSource component library, PCB quote service and BOM quote functionality.
Design Rule Checking determines whether the physical layout of an integrated circuit satisfies a series of recommended parameters called design rules. DRC is an important step during the physical verification of a design, which is normally carried out in the post-design phase. Online DRC is an advancement of this process that enables the engineer to detect errors in real-time during the design stage, highlighting any issues before the design is finalised and layout completed.
The inclusion of online DRC within DesignSpark PCB Version 5.0 is seen as a significant addition to the software’s functionality, introducing considerable time saving benefits to the user as any errors can be rectified immediately with minimum knock-on effect to the rest of the design, ensuring maximum yield and reliability.
The increasing adoption of digital design has resulted in the use of on-chip buses, or bundles of related wires, to transfer data, enabling the engineer to combine multiple data signals into a bus in multiples of 8 (e.g. 8, 16, 32). Instead of drawing and/or labelling the individual wires in a schematic, a single ‘bus wire’ can be used to represent related wires, thus simplifying the final schematic. This also enables simulation and debugging to be carried out with minimum errors. Buses have been added directly into DesignSpark PCB Version 5.0, allowing the engineer to refine the schematic during the design phase.
“The uptake of DesignSpark PCB has been tremendous since we launched the software in July 2010 with more than 155,000 downloads recorded globally,” said Mark Cundle, Head of Technical Marketing at RS. “User feedback is an important part of the tool’s evolution and these two new features have both been popular requests from the user community. The relationships we have developed with some users are helping to shape the future direction of the software, ensuring that our continued investment in DesignSpark PCB is based on the needs of engineers.”