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Is your via impedance calculator accurate?
Blog
Why Most Via Impedance Calculators Are Inaccurate

The problem with every via impedance calculator that I have seen is simple: they are incomplete or totally wrong. The “incomplete” part refers to a lack of context; these calculators can roughly reproduce a well-known estimate from a legend like Howard Johnson in his Digital Design textbooks. However, these calculators never provide insight into what they are actually calculating, or where the calculated via impedance is accurate. Keep reading to see why these calculators get it so wrong, as well as the context surrounding via impedance.

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How-To's
How to Create an Interactive PDF of a Schematic Diagram

This video shows how to create an interactive PDF using the Smart PDF Wizard.

Embedded thumbnail for What is the Draftsman Document?
How to Work with Draftsman
What is the Draftsman Document?

Once your PCB layout is finished it’s time for review. This is where the Draftsman Document and Altium Designer’s Draftsman Editor comes in.

Blog
Buck Converter Simulation in Altium Designer

When designing high power circuits (usually very high voltage and/or current), you’ll need to create a regulator from scratch and place it in your PCB layout. It's also the case that you may want to model a real component using discretes in a simulation in order to qualify the system's expected operating regime. As part of buck converter design, you can easily run a buck converter simulation directly in Altium Designer’s schematic editor. Here’s how you can access these features in the newest version of Altium Designer. 

Embedded thumbnail for Adding Project Modules to a Multi-board Schematic
How to work with Multiboard
Adding Project Modules to a Multi-board Schematic

If you’re using multiple PCBs in your Multi-board design, Altium Designer allows you to add existing projects directly to your schematic with modules. We’ll show you how to quickly and efficiently add these projects to your Multi-board design.

PCIe 6.0 Overview
Blog
Overview of the PCIe 6.0 Standard

Just as you get used to PCIe 5.0, they decide to release another standard! The newest iteration of PCIe is Gen6, or PCIe 6.0. PCIe 6.0 brings a doubling of channel bandwidth through introduction of PAM-4 as the signaling method in high-speed differential channels. This signaling method is a first for PCIe, and it’s an important enabler of the doubled data rate we see in the current standard. In this article, I’ll run over the important points in the standard and what PCB designers can expect when designing these channels.

Embedded thumbnail for Checking for Creepage in High Voltage Designs
How-To's
Checking for Creepage in High Voltage Designs

High voltage devices have leakage currents that propage over the surface of the board. In such devices, it's important to consider not only the standard gap between the two topological elements, but also the shortest possible path between them, taking into account cut-outs and holes. With Altium Designer 20, you can check for creepage using the new creepage distance rule.

Embedded thumbnail for Creating BGA Footprints with the Footprint Wizard
How to create a PCB Footprint
Creating BGA Footprints with the Footprint Wizard

Altium Designer makes it easy to create a BGA footprint using our IPC compliant footprint wizard. We'll show you how easily you can create and modify a BGA footprint using the footprint wizard.

SPI vs. I2C For Memory Access
Blog
SPI vs. I2C: How to Choose the Best Protocol for Your Memory Chips

One of the common implementations of SPI and I2C in a PCB layout is as a protocol for reading and writing to an external Flash memory. Flash chips are a very common component in embedded systems and can offer high capacities of non-volatile memory up to Gb values. When choosing a memory chip, you'll want to match the application requirements and functionality with the bus speed you need for read and write operations in your memory chip. There is also the matter of the type of Flash memory you'll need to access (NOR vs. NAND).

On-Demand Webinar
Tips & Tricks: Board Shape Creation

Being able to design a board in your ECAD environment doesn’t mean that it is manufacturable in real life. You have to make sure your CAD representation won’t have any problems in the real world by taking some precautions. For example, there are certain areas that need to be free of components and have specified clearances like your board edge. This webinar will help you get acquainted with the creation and modification of your board shape so that you can ensure manufacturability.

Blog
Is There an SPI Trace Impedance Requirement?

There is no SPI trace impedance requirement? The reality is that SPI lines only start to need impedance control when the length of the interconnect becomes very long. And because there is no specific impedance requirement in the bus, you have some freedom in channel design and termination. So what exactly qualifies as “very long” and when is some termination method needed? We’ll break it down in this article.

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How-To's
How to Remove Unused Pad Shapes

Unused pad shapes can cause distortion among other problems so it is best to exclude them from your designs. This video shows how to remove unused pad shapes.

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How to work with Layer Stack Manager
Stackup Presets and Templates

In this video, we will learn how to apply predefined layer stacks to the board, as well as how to save the layer stack file as a template.

The Skin Effect and EM Fields
Blog
The Skin Effect, Current Density, and the Electromagnetic Field

During this year's AltiumLive CONNECT event, I recall receiving an interesting question about the skin effect and the distribution of current due to the presence of ground in coplanar transmission lines. In this article, we'll look at the electric field around a transmission line carrying a signal, and how this might be impacted by the skin effect.

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How to create a PCB Footprint
Creating a PCB Footprint Assembly Drawing

If you need to create an assembly drawing of your PCB Footprint for your outjob files we can show you how in Altium Designer. We’ll walk through all the different options for your assembly drawing in your Draftsman document, how to create your assembly drawing and assign it designators.

Packaging for your PCBAs
Blog
What You Need for PCB Packaging and Shipping

When you get your PCBA back from an assembler, you’ll notice the packaging materials used to pack and ship the PCBA. Those materials are specific to electronics, and if you build products on behalf of clients, it’s important to know the packaging materials used for packing and shipping electronics. In this article I’ll show the main set of materials and equipment used to package electronics assemblies.

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How-To's
Using the ActiveBOM

Using the ActiveBOM: The Bill of Materials (BOM) contains a list of all the components with their designators, part numbers, values, and other parameters. An ActiveBOM manages the mapping from the design component (part) to the part that is purchased. This video describes how to use the ActiveBOM document to create an up-to-date list of components needed for your project.

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How to work with Layer Stack Manager
Using Back Drills in your Stackup

In this video, we will learn about Back Drilling technology, how to set up back drilling using the layer stack manager, and how to set up the Stub Length sizes for back drilling by specifying applicable nets using the Design Rules Editor.

PCB Output files
Blog
How to Make PCB Gerber Files in Altium Designer Step-by-Step

Once you've got your PCB layout finished and you're ready to start preparing for manufacturing, one of the critical steps is to create PCB Gerber files. When you're ready to create your Gerber files, you need the right set of CAM processor tools that can take data from your PCB layout. In this article, we'll guide you through this process of how to make PCB Gerber files and show some example tasks you might need to perform to generate them.

Component composition
On-Demand Webinar
Help Ensure The Best Designs With Component Management

There are many aspects to designing a PCB. One of the larger aspects has to do with managing your components. We all need components for our designs, but are those components in our library and designs up-to-date or even purchasable? These questions need to be answered before we can safely use them. Altium Designer® has several tools to help you manage the components in your libraries and designs.

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PCB Output files
Blog
How to Make PCB Gerber Files in Altium Designer Step-by-Step

Once you've got your PCB layout finished and you're ready to start preparing for manufacturing, one of the critical steps is to create PCB Gerber files. When you're ready to create your Gerber files, you need the right set of CAM processor tools that can take data from your PCB layout. In this article, we'll guide you through this process of how to make PCB Gerber files and show some example tasks you might need to perform to generate them.

Teardrops on Differential Pairs?
Blog
Should You Place Teardrops on Differential Pairs?

One of the major factors impacting reliability of a PCBA is the use of teardrops on traces in the PCB. Like many aspects of reliability, the considerations also span into the signal integrity domain, particularly as more high-reliability products require greater data handling capabilities and run at higher speeds. In this article, I’ll break down the issues present in teardrop usage on differential pairs and how these may affect impedance.

Broken PCB
Blog
The High-Reliability PCBA Design and Test Challenge

High-reliability electronics must go through multiple rounds of testing and qualification to ensure they can withstand their intended operating environment. Designing to performance standards, whether the baseline IPC standards or more stringent industry standards, is the first step in ensuring a reliable circuit board. In this e-book, readers will gain a thorough look into PCB testing and analysis, starting from basic tests performed on bare boards and completed assemblies.

Where to place AC Caps on PCIe Lanes
Blog
AC Coupling Capacitors in PCIe Routing

Coupling capacitors find plenty of uses in analog applications and on differential protocols, acting essentially as high pass filters that remove DC bias carried seen on a signal. In the case of PCIe, there are a few reasons to place AC coupling capacitors on differential pairs beyond the fact that AC coupling capacitors are listed in the standard. In this article, we’ll look briefly at where to place coupling capacitors on PCIe links, as well as the reasons these are placed on PCIe links.

Tuning dialog
Blog
Altium Designer 22.7 Update

We are happy to announce that the Altium Designer 22.7 update is now available. Altium Designer 22.7 continues to focus on improving the user experience, as well as performance and stability of the software, based on feedback from our users. Check out the key new features in the What's New section on the left side of this window!

The Positive Impact of Supply Chain Visibility on Design to Cost
Blog
The Positive Impact of Supply Chain Visibility on Design to Cost

Design to cost is a lofty idea that is only perfectly executed when supply and demand for components are in perfect harmony. Unfortunately, the current landscape for component sourcing makes design to cost more of a balancing act rather than an exercise in price reduction. To help designers in their efforts to balance cost, capabilities, and procurement, we created this ebook to help users understand how modern supply chain tools can help in these complex design problems.

Evaluating Stubs on PCIe Lanes
Blog
A Brief Study of Stubs on a PCIe Connector

Stubs are an important topic in high-speed PCB design, and there is a longstanding guideline that stubs should always be removed from all vias on high-speed digital interconnects. While stubs are bad for high-speed lines, they do not always need to be removed. What is more important is to predict the loss profile and frequencies, and to floorplan appropriately to try and prevent such losses.

Surface Layer DFM and Cleanup
Blog
PCB Layout Cleanup Before Manufacturing

Once you finish your placement and routing in your PCB layout, it can be tempting to wrap up the layout and send everything in directly to manufacturing. The reality is that the board may still need some work before it is considered finished. The cleanup you perform at the final stage of PCB layout will help you catch any outstanding errors that can't be programmed into your DRC engine, and it gives you a chance to add any outstanding details to the surface layers.

Low Cost and Professionally Built LED Panel
Blog
Insulated Metal Substrates: Building an LED Panel

In this project we’ll be building a moderate sized LED panel on insulated metal substrate (IMS). This light panel has three different white balance High CRI LED types on it, warm, neutral and cool. By changing the brightness of the different white balances, the light from the panel can be adjusted to match other lighting, making it perfect for film use - but also creating perfect lighting for electronics work. As with all my projects, this LED panel is open source, you can find the Altium project files over on my GitHub released under the permissive MIT License.

DFM For Your Materials
Blog
DFM in PCB Material Selection

Every design should begin with selecting the materials that will appear in the PCB stackup, as well as arranging layers in the stackup to support layout and routing. This section of our PCB manufacturing andc DFM crash course focuses on selecting the right materials for your PCB design. Materials should be selected given the particular design requirements outlined in your specifications.

PCB Layout for an BGA
Blog
How to Start an FPGA PCB Layout For Your Embedded System

FPGAs come in quad or BGA packages that can be difficult to floorplan, especially with the high number of I/Os often implemented in these components. FPGAs offer a lot of advantages in terms of their reconfigurability, but they can require a lot of effort to layout and route without headaches. If you’ve never worked with an FPGA in your PCB layout, we have some guidelines that can help you get started.

2-port VNA on a 3-port Network
Blog
How to Get 3-port S-parameters From a 2-port VNA Measurement

S-parameters are fundamental quantities in signal integrity, and an ability to understand them from measurement or analysis is very important. If you have a 3-port network, like a power divider or circulator, it may appear that you must use a 3-port VNA to measure these S-parameters. It is always acceptable to measure between two ports, but you need to know what exactly it is you are measuring. In this article, we’ll look at the relationship between the true 3-port S-parameters with a 2-port measurement.

Fab and Assembly Crash Course
Blog
A Day in the Life of the PCB Manufacturing Process

Before implementing design for manufacturing, it is important to understand the underlying process behind producing a physical PCB. Regardless of the various technologies present in each facility, a large majority of industry-leading manufacturers follow a specific set of steps to turn your design from a drawing in a CAD application into a physical board. In this article, we'll cover the basics that designers need to know as part of our crash course series on PCB manufacturing.

What Are the Main Skew Sources in a PCB?
Blog
Addressing Skew Sources in High Speed PCBs

If you compile a list of skew sources, you'll see that fiber weave-induced skew is only one entry on a long list of skew sources. We'll look at this list of possible skew sources below, and we'll see how they affect the operation of your PCB. From the list below, we'll see that some of these issues with skew are not simply solved by paying attention to the fiber weave construction in a PCB substrate.

Ground Below SMPS Inductors
Blog
Should Ground Be Placed Below Inductors in Switching Regulators?

We love answering questions from our readers and YouTube viewers, and one of the recent questions we received relates to EMI from switching elements in a switching regulator is "Should a cutout be placed below the inductor in a switching regulator circuit?". Despite the variations in inductors and their magnetic behavior, there are some general principles that can be used to judge the effects of placing ground near inductors in switching regulator circuits. We’ll look at some of these principles in this article

Alternative Pins
Blog
Altium Designer 22.6 Update

We are happy to announce that the Altium Designer 22.6 update is now available. Altium Designer 22.6 continues to focus on improving the user experience, as well as performance and stability of the software, based on feedback from our users. Check out the key new features in the What's New section on the left side of this window!

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Further Enhancements to Sheet Cross-referencing
What's New in
Schematic Capture Improvement

Adding cross-references to the project allows you to easily follow the connective flow of nets between the schematic sheets in a project. 

Embedded thumbnail for A365 Getting Started: Schematic Compare
Getting Started with A365
A365 Getting Started: Schematic Compare

The schematic sheets in a project are subject to change over time, and sometimes it may be necessary to compare several different versions and detect differences between them. In Altium Designer you can easily perform an automatic comparison of any revisions of schematic documents. 

NEW
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How to Work with Draftsman
Draftsman Document Board Assembly View

The Draftsman Document can include a Board Assembly View. We’ll show you how to add it and the properties you can change to create the exact view or views you need.

Embedded thumbnail for A365 Getting Started: Migrate to Altium 365 from other VCS
Getting Started with A365
A365 Getting Started: Migrate to Altium 365 from other VCS

The development of electronic devices always involves the release of many different types of files. And these files are not static - they change as the project progresses. Traditionally, one way to manage data is to use a version control system such as Git or SVN. Unlike other VCSs, Altium 365 is the system designed specifically for managing project data.

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How to Work with Classes
How to work with Component Classes?

Modern printed circuit boards can contain a large number of components, which makes them difficult to work with. In this video we will show what component classes can be on a PCB, how to create custom component classes and how they can be useful for us. 

Embedded thumbnail for Placing Connections Between Boards
How to work with Multiboard
Placing Connections Between Boards

A multi-board design requires relationships between several board designs referred to as interboard connections. We’ll show you the different types of connections and how to connect your boards using the proper connection type.

Embedded thumbnail for Show the Net Connections Between Select Components
How-To's
Show the Net Connections Between Select Components

This video demonstrates how to show net-specific component connections. This is helpful when routing as you’re able to reduce clutter and focus on the connections on which you are working.

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How to Work with Draftsman
Draftsman Editor Settings

In this video we’ll go over the Draftsman editor settings and properties so you know how to set up the editor to be exactly what you need.

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How-To's
Assuring Your Board Is Large Enough to House All Components

This video covers how to make sure your board is big enough to house all your components.

Embedded thumbnail for How to Create an Interactive PDF of a Schematic Diagram
How-To's
How to Create an Interactive PDF of a Schematic Diagram

This video shows how to create an interactive PDF using the Smart PDF Wizard.

Embedded thumbnail for What is the Draftsman Document?
How to Work with Draftsman
What is the Draftsman Document?

Once your PCB layout is finished it’s time for review. This is where the Draftsman Document and Altium Designer’s Draftsman Editor comes in.

Embedded thumbnail for Adding Project Modules to a Multi-board Schematic
How to work with Multiboard
Adding Project Modules to a Multi-board Schematic

If you’re using multiple PCBs in your Multi-board design, Altium Designer allows you to add existing projects directly to your schematic with modules. We’ll show you how to quickly and efficiently add these projects to your Multi-board design.

Embedded thumbnail for Checking for Creepage in High Voltage Designs
How-To's
Checking for Creepage in High Voltage Designs

High voltage devices have leakage currents that propage over the surface of the board. In such devices, it's important to consider not only the standard gap between the two topological elements, but also the shortest possible path between them, taking into account cut-outs and holes. With Altium Designer 20, you can check for creepage using the new creepage distance rule.

Embedded thumbnail for Creating BGA Footprints with the Footprint Wizard
How to create a PCB Footprint
Creating BGA Footprints with the Footprint Wizard

Altium Designer makes it easy to create a BGA footprint using our IPC compliant footprint wizard. We'll show you how easily you can create and modify a BGA footprint using the footprint wizard.

Embedded thumbnail for How to Remove Unused Pad Shapes
How-To's
How to Remove Unused Pad Shapes

Unused pad shapes can cause distortion among other problems so it is best to exclude them from your designs. This video shows how to remove unused pad shapes.

Embedded thumbnail for Stackup Presets and Templates
How to work with Layer Stack Manager
Stackup Presets and Templates

In this video, we will learn how to apply predefined layer stacks to the board, as well as how to save the layer stack file as a template.

Tag
Part Search in Altium Designer
On-Demand Webinar
How to Overcome PCB Component Availability Problems

Supply shortages have become and continue to be a common problem, especially when it comes to the world of electronics. It's hard to get all the different components for our boards. Heck! It's even tough to get the board themselves too! When electronic components become obsolete or out of stock, design and production can suffer lengthy delays. With current supply chain delays and with an average of 15 end-of-life notices issued every day, obtaining the parts you need is a challenge.

Preparing your files for Fabrication Release
On-Demand Webinar
Preparing your files for Fabrication Release

When you’re done creating a new board, it’s time to send your design data to the manufacturer. Before releasing your designs, you’ll want to make sure that everything is ready and works as intended. In this informative video, we’ll review some of the must-have checks before sending your output data for fabrication.

Article preview
On-Demand Webinar
Efficient PCB Routing Using Gloss and Retrace Tools

The primary goal of your traces is to carry signals throughout your board without losses. To do this properly, you must familiarize yourself with the requirements for signals on the printed circuit board and how to optimize the topology of the board in terms of signal integrity. We will analyze the most popular routing cases applicable for using the Gloss and Retrace tools in Altium Designer to optimize your signal integrity.

Article preview
On-Demand Webinar
Length Matching in High Speed Buses

With ever increasing speeds in high-speed data systems comes a couple of PCB layout challenges. High-speed busses like DDR, VME, PCIe just to mention a few can all reach data transfer speeds that require strict timing with very tight tolerances, thereby leaving very little slack in the PCB layout. Watch this on-demand webinar to learn why it's imperative to match track lengths in high-speed data systems and differential signals. You’ll see how to properly define PCB length matching and time delay constraints, and how to effectively route high-speed signals in Altium Designer®.

Simple Simulation in Altium Designer
On-Demand Webinar
SPICE Simulation Made Simple

SPICE simulation saves you critical time in the prototyping phase. Understanding your simulation interface makes it simple to analyze how your circuits work in different scenarios. Altium Designer provides an intuitive, dedicated interface to support your simulation verification, setup, and analysis directly in your schematic environment. You also benefit from growing support for popular model formats, as well as generic models, simplifying circuit definition and simulation.

Altium Designer Signal Integrity
On-Demand Webinar
What is High-Speed Design?

The primary source of high-speed problems is not due to high clock frequency but rather the fast rise and fall times of component signals. With fast edge rates, reflections may occur at the receiver side, and when the board routing is dense, crosstalk may become a problem. During this webinar, you'll sharpen your knowledge and develop new skills that you can use to design High-Speed PCB's more efficiently and effectively.

Altium Designer Interface
On-Demand Webinar
What is High-Speed Design?

The primary source of high-speed problems is not due to high clock frequency but rather the fast rise and fall times of component signals. With fast edge rates, reflections may occur at the receiver side, and when the board routing is dense, crosstalk may become a problem. During this webinar, you'll sharpen your knowledge and develop new skills that you can use to design High-Speed PCB's more efficiently and effectively. 

Webinar slides
On-Demand Webinar
Designing PCBs 5x Faster Despite the Pandemic | Customer Success | Kinetic Vision

Kinetic Vision, a Cincinnati-based design, engineering, and development firm, is an innovator’s one-stop shop for transforming even the wildest ideas into real products. The company’s design approach keeps everything in-house, including industrial design, mechanical, and electrical design, as well as, engineering, hardware/software development, machine learning, and sometimes even short-run production. Watch this webinar to learn how Kinetic Vision uses the Altium 365 platform to enable a connected and frictionless PCB design experience, increasing their productivity 5 times even in the mid

Altium Designer interface
On-Demand Webinar
One-Stop Design Team Configuration

A heavy focus is usually put on managing your design data, but what about managing your design team? A mismanaged design team can lead to a disorganized and inaccurate design library and data. Watch this webinar to see how Altium 365 can help you to organize users into access restricted groups, manage design and designer access rights, avoid design conflicts when multiple members are working on the same design, and standardize your entire project using templates

SolidWorks interface
On-Demand Webinar
ECAD MCAD Capabilities For Today’s Most Demanding Designs

Working between the Electronic and Mechanical design domains brings unique challenges. ECAD and MCAD tools have different design objectives and have evolved down different paths, and so have the way they store and manage their design and project data. To successfully design these products, the designers must fluidly pass design changes back and forth between the ECAD and MCAD domains beyond outdated file exchanges.

Altium Designer Constraints Editor
On-Demand Webinar
Getting Started with Design Rules and Constraints

Getting started with design rules can sometimes be a difficult task, but it doesn’t have to be. Altium Designer has added a new design rules user interface along with a new way to define rules, while not compromising past methods. Now, rules and constraints have a design-centric view rather than a rules-centric view which allows for easier visualization and is less prone to error. Watch this video to learn how you can best utilize the improved Rules 2.0 design rule interface.

Altium Designer interface
On-Demand Webinar
ECAD-MCAD Collaboration for Improved Product Development

Working between the Electronic and Mechanical design domains brings unique challenges. ECAD and MCAD tools have different design objectives and have evolved down different paths, and so has the way they store and manage their design and project data. Watch this video to learn about seamless ECAD/MCAD Collaboration on the project, how to comments for other design teams and how to review, Approve or Reject design changes from your mechanical engineer.

Article preview
On-Demand Webinar
8 Reasons to Store Your Components in Altium 365

Working with local libraries seems like a simple solution, but we often don’t take into account the added time spent maintaining libraries and sharing them between team members. There is no good way to avoid duplicate efforts with component creation and no standardization to ensure consistent naming. Worst of all, there is no way to identify the latest component revision, and library files can be easily corrupted or misplaced. This webinar showcases the advantages of component storage in Аltium 365 to resolve the issues of local libraries and component management.

Webinar Preview
On-Demand Webinar
Group Editing Tools and Methods in Altium Designer Webinar

Do you ever have to edit a large group of objects on your design? Whether you are dealing with your schematic or PCB, this webinar will help you get acquainted with the main tools for group editing of objects in Altium Designer. You will also learn how to effectively apply group editing methods with filters and selection tools in different design scopes.

Share Designs and track changes easily
On-Demand Webinar
Using Version Control in Your PCB Project Webinar

Version control has been a staple of software development for decades, but hardware development can benefit just as much from a version control system (VCS). Traditionally, VCS has been managed locally tying you down to a workplace, but advances in cloud technology have removed that limitation. Learn how Altium 365 cloud technology enables working concurrently on designs with built-in version control and evaluate its advantages.

Complex Design Made Easy Preview
On-Demand Webinar
Altium Designer® 21: A Better Way To Design

The design process often requires repetitive work with tedious tasks. Altium Designer 21 represents a better way to design by revitalizing long-standing functionality and improving the user experience, as well as performance and stability, based on the feedback from our users. These improvements streamline existing design tasks and empower you to complete sophisticated rigid and rigid-flex designs with realistic 3D modeling.