Altium Rolls Out Innovation Station for Electronics Design

Altium Limited, the leading developer of unified electronic product development solutions, has launched the Altium Innovation Station. The Altium Innovation Station combines the award-winning Altium Designer unified electronics design software with the newly-extended Altium NanoBoard range of reconfigurable hardware platforms. The result is a complete electronics design environment that puts device intelligence at the center of the design process. This enables designers to create real and sustainable differentiation through continuous design innovation. The Altium Innovation Station builds on Altium’s leadership in unified electronics design which provides designers with capabilities beyond the traditional collection of point design tools.

Using the Altium Innovation Station, designers can design in the soft domain, without having to pre-determine the hardware platform on which the product will be delivered. Its unified environment allows them to easily exploit today’s low-cost, high-performance programmable devices to create and deliver the intelligence they need to create sustainable differentiation. They can then quickly and easily test, analyze and debug the design using the Desktop NanoBoard reconfigurable hardware development platform which is integrated with Altium Designer. The reconfigurable Innovation Station allows designers to compare the performance benefits and trade-offs of different FPGAs without changing their design.

Designers then deploy to one of a new range of deployment NanoBoards – off-the-shelf hardware options that let designers deploy their designs as physical hardware without the need to manufacture any custom hardware. This allows them to consider any number of execution possibilities for their design, with or without design intelligence, with or without physical hardware.

Using the Altium Innovation Station means also provides additional advantages to the designer after the initial design and development is complete by allowing them to protect their intellectual property, retain their source documents, and in the future connect their devices to new ‘ecosystems’ in ways.

A number of significant benefits flow from this approach:

  • The design IP is programmed into the system, rather than manufactured on the board.
  • This IP is much easier to protect (the source code is not shipped with the product so is much harder to copy).
  • Soft design can happen before the hardware platform is designed.
  • Soft design can continue after the hardware is designed.
  • Soft design can continue after the hardware is manufactured.
  • Soft design can continue after the hardware is deployed to the end customer.
  • Aesthetics implemented in the soft design can be changed after the product is manufactured and deployed.
  • Soft design provides the basis for an ‘ecosystem’ which connects the customer to the vendor via the device.

“The forces driving the electronics industry and product development in general are changing,” said Nick Martin, CEO of Altium. “And this process of change is continuing to accelerate, rather than slow down. The globalization of manufacturing, particularly the commoditization of low-cost, high quality manufacturing, has all but removed any price or time-to-market advantage. Lowest cost and first to market are no longer any guarantee of sustained success.

“To create sustainable differentiation in the future will require products that are more intelligent and intuitive, and that create long-term relationships, through the product, between the manufacturer and the customer.

“Altium has spent more than 1,000 man-years, over the past seven years, creating a new approach to electronics design by building a system that allows for the development of the intelligence of an electronic product in addition to the design of the physical board. The design of intelligence is done within one design solution.

“Altium is committed to helping every organization put device intelligence at the center of the design process. Soft aesthetics and product interfaces can be developed as the key part of the product design and delivery process. The hard aesthetics are relegated to being important in establishing the overall brand experience, rather than providing the key differentiator. After all, anything physical is easy to copy!

“Although it has served us well in the past, the old approach to designing electronic products – that puts the development of the hardware platform first with soft aspects built to this platform – must now give way to the next generation’s approach.

“This new approach puts the design of the soft elements of an electronic system first and at the center of the whole design process.”

The Altium Innovation Station, including the latest release of Altium Designer, the desktop development NanoBoard, and a preview of the new deployment NanoBoards, is being launched worldwide this month.

Altium Innovation Station price and availability
The Altium Innovation Station, consisting of Altium Designer 6 and Altium’s Desktop NanoBoard, is available now for purchase. Altium’s range of deployment NanoBoards will be available later in 2008. Pricing is available from Altium’s sales team.

About Altium
Altium Limited (ASX:ALU) is the leading developer of electronic product development solutions dedicated to unifying the different design disciplines involved in electronics product development. Altium products ensure all electronic engineers, designers, developers, and their organizations, take maximum advantage of emerging design technologies to bring smarter products to market faster and easier. Founded in 1985, Altium has headquarters in Sydney, Australia, sales offices in the United States, Europe, Japan, China, and resellers in all other major markets.

About Altium Innovation Station
The concept of the Altium Innovation Station combines the Altium Designer electronics development tool with Altium’s NanoBoard range of reconfigurable hardware development and deployment platforms to provide the single design environment for sustainable differentiation in electronics design. Together, they allow electronics designers to create value and innovation in their products by focusing on designing device intelligence.

Altium Designer’s unified design environment means users can harness the potential of the latest electronics technologies, and move to a ‘soft’ design methodology without the need to acquire specialist programmable device expertise. It unifies the design of the hardware, software and programmable hardware by removing the disparate design flows of old design methods and thinking.

Altium’s NanoBoard range of reconfigurable hardware platforms allows for both the development and deployment of device intelligence based on programmable devices such as FPGAs. Altium’s NanoBoard architecture is unique in that it comes complete with a range of programmable devices housed on plug-in FPGA daughter boards, and interchangeable peripheral boards. The development NanoBoard provides a versatile reconfigurable development platform independent of the choice of FPGAs. In the future, deployment NanoBoards will allow rapid completion of the design process to final hardware – without the constraints of having to design hardware early in the design process.

Altium, Altium Designer, LiveDesign, and their respective logos are trademarks or registered trademarks of Altium Limited or its subsidiaries.