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  • PCB Layout

    ARES PCB Layout Software

    Our high performance netlist based PCB design package perfectly complements our powerful ISIS schematic capture software and features both automatic component placement and a truly world class shape based auto-router.

    ISIS and ARES together form a complete Proteus PCB Design package.

    Product Summary

    ARES PCB Layout Includes:

    • more... 16 copper layers, 2 silk screen layers, 4 mechanical layers plus board edge, keepout, solder resist and solder paste mask.
    • more... Hardware Accelerated Graphics Display and intuitive Thru-View ™ layer transparency.
    • Any angle component placement and pad-stacks.
    • more... Fully automatic ratsnest and force vector generation.
    • Drag and drop pinswap and gateswap.
    • more... Acclaimed manual routing system is ideal for complex, netlist based manual routing.
    • more... Gridless, polygonal power planes with full control of fill styles, thermals, nesting and islands.
    • more... Connectivity and (live) physical design rule checking verify design integrity.
    • more... Extensive and growing footprint libraries including the complete IPC-7351 land pattern standard.
    • more... ODB++, CADCAM, PDF and panelisation manufacturing output facilities.
    • more... Pick and Place file and testpoint information file for automatic insertion machines.
    • more... 3D Visualisation Engine provides 3-dimensional view of the current layout.

    Design Automation:

    • more... Automatic component placement.
    • more... Integrated Shape Based Autorouting.
    • Board level mitring to minimise track length or to avoid solder traps.

    "PCB Design is our business. We review PCB Layout software on an ongoing basis and Labcenter has topped the list for the last 10 years. Certainly the most productive and very,very affordable. We have licences for other very expensive products but they don't get much use.."

    Donald Kay: Don Alan Pty

    Purchasing Options

    All Proteus PCB Design solutions include both the ISIS Schematic Capture package and the ARES PCB layout package. Cost is dependant on both the required design capacity and the required feature set.

    An overview of available solutions can be found here, whilst the associated pricelist is here. Feel free to contact us should you wish more information or to further discuss requirements.

    Layout Database

    ARES features a state of the art layout database capable of representing the most complex of PCB designs. Placement resolution is 10 nanometers within a maximum board size of 20m. Components and other objects may be rotated in 0.1 degree increments whilst padstacks facilitate the achievement of maximum routing area on inner layers.

    Netlist & Ratsnest Handling

    During the placement phase, ARES displays both the ratsnest and force vectors. Both are updated in real time when you drag components. The ratsnest is also automatically updated during routing - add a track and a ratsnest line with disappear; delete a track and one will re-appear. You can also configure ratsnest colours and visibility on a per strategy basis for clarity - for example assigning power lines in blue and signal lines in green.

    The system fully supports design modifications - if you change the schematic and re-load the netslist, ARES will flag up exactly which components and/or tracks are affected. Equally, pin-swaps and gate-swaps made in ARES are automatically fed back to the schematic.

    Hardware Acceleration

    ARES harnesses the power of your computers graphics card to provide lightning fast performance. Together with unique transparance options this makes is easy and fast to navigate and understand even large, multi-layer boards. Traditional, Windows GDI graphics operation is also supported for those without the necessary hardware for accelerated display.

    Auto Placer

    Automatic component placement makes it possible to design an entire board with absolute minimum of effort on your part. Alternatively, since the placer can operate interactively, you can pre-place critical components first and then let ARES auto-place the rest.

    Shape Based Autorouting

    Proteus includes a world class integrated shape based autorouter as standard with all professional purchases. The router uses advanced cost-based conflict reduction algorithms proven to maximise completion rates on even the most densely packed boards.

    For total control of the routing process, users with the advanced feature set (PCB Design Level 2 and higher) can also drive the router either by writing custom routing scripts or by directly entering routing commands interactively. This provides many additional features such as the ability to route only particular areas or net classes and also additional flexibility such as the ability to specify the fanout direction or length.

    More information on the autorouter can be found here

    ARES Shape Based Autorouter

    The Proteus Shape Based Autorouter showing pre and post routing around an BGA footprint.

    Manual Route Placement & Editing

    Manual routing makes no requirement that you start from the ratsnest lines (rubberbanding). You can place tracking in any way you wish and ARES will remove ratsnest lines as the connections are actually completed.

    When editing routes you can re-route or delete any section of a track, irrespective of how it was originally placed. Commands are also provided to change the thickness and/or layer of any section of tracking.

    Track operations

    Track operations

    Track selection configuration

    Track selection configuration

    If thick tracks are laid between obstacles such as IC pads, ARES will automatically 'neck' in order to maintain the current design rules.

    Curved tracks can be laid down simply by pressing the CTRL key and marking the route with the mouse.

    Tracks can be easily edited and repositioned as required.

    Tracks can be easily edited and repositioned as required.

    Power Planes

    ARES features the ultimate in power plane support - user placeable polygonal regions within which inner boundaries are automatically created around existing pads and tracking. Change the pads and tracking and the boundaries are recomputed to maintain design rule clearances. Thermal reliefs are supported and you can choose whether to hatch or fill each polygon. Inner zones(nested zones) can be included and/or islands of unconnected copper suppressed. All computation is based on grid-less shape geometry and occurs in the background so that there is no interference in manual board placement for computationally intensive layouts.

    Close up of two ARES zones with the same board.

    Close up of two ARES zones with the same board. The top-left shows a hatched zone with thermally relieved connections whilst the lower-right shows a solid zone with solid, unrelieved, connections.

    Design Rule Checking

    Live DRC reporting on the status bar.

    Live DRC reporting on the status bar.

    During manual routing, ARES checks each track as you place it and warns you if any design rules (physical/electrical) are broken. You can fully customise the board constraints, setting rules by layer and/or by strategy or even creating rules governing behaviour between strategies on the board. You can also run global physical and electrical design rule checks at any time. The latter produces a report listing any missing or extra connections - double click on any entry in the list, and ARES will zoom in to show you exactly where the error is located on the PCB.

    Package Libraries

    The supplied libraries cover a large range of through hole components including all the most common IC, transistor, diode and connector packaging types. We also supply as standard the full IEC libraries and SMT footprints which include all the standard discrete and IC packaging styles. New packages can easily be created directly on the drawing whilst ARES also supports general 2D drafting features.

    Manufacturing Outputs

    Valor ODB++ Manufacturing Output

    Valor ODB++ Manufacturing Output.

    As well as supporting the basic ability to output your PCB to standard windows printers, ARES provides an optimized HPGL driver for pen plotters, and a full set of features for professional board manufacturing.

    ODB++ is the primary supported manufacturing output format. ODB++ is the most intelligent CAD/CAM data exchange format available today, capturing all CAD/EDA, assembly and PCB fabrication knowledge in one single, unified database. Valor (the creators of the ODB++ format) produce a free ODB++ Viewer, allowing you to inspect your output before sending to manufacture.

    Traditional Gerber output is supported in both the RS274D and the newer RS274X formats whilst a standard excellon format file is produced for drilling machines. In addition, an ASCII file listing component positions and orientations is produced for use with Pick and Place machinery.

    Labcenter provide an integrated gerber viewer is also provided, allowing you to check that Gerber files contain the expected data, and to panelise boards prior to issuing them for manufacture.

    3D Visualisation

    The 3D Visualisation Tool (3D Viewer) in ARES provides a way to extrude a layout and view the board as it would appear in real life. This is extremely useful as a design aid during board layout.

    3D Visualisation of the XGS Gamestation Board.

    3D Visualisation of the XGS Gamestation PCB Layout.

    Specifying 3D model parameters in the Make Package dialogue form inside the ARES Application.

    Specifying 3D model parameters in the Make Package dialogue form inside the ARES Application.

    Navigation, both orbital and 'fly by' is extremely intuitive and mouse controlled. The user can also specify a 'height plane' corresponding to the board chassis which will appear as a semi-transparent box around the board, allowing for a quick visual check for protrusions. ARES libraries come supplied with 3D footprints and comprehensive support for creating custom 3D footprints directly inside ARES or by importing models via the standard *.3ds file format. Files can be exported in this format from the majority of commercial MCAD packages as well as from several free software tools - notably Blender.