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Open Source Hardware and EDA tools

Did you know there is an active open source CAD community? Not freeware or shareware CAD programs, which have been available for some time, but Open Source CAD community! Very cool site, with lots of applications for electronics design that include: schematic capture, bill of materials generation, netlisting, analog and digital simulation and PCB layout. The apps are released under the terms of the GNU General Public License.

[Interesting note: I started using GNU software back in 1995 with a lovely little program called “Ghostscript.? Anyone remember Ghostscript?]

BTW: Don’t get excited when you visit the Open Source CAD website and see the term gEDA. It doesn’t mean chip level design tools, as in Cadence-Mentor-Synopsys equivalent – just board-level tools. Which shouldn’t be surprising, since a quick surf over to Wiki reminds us of the true meaning of EDA:

Electronic design automation (EDA) is the category of tools for designing and producing electronic systems ranging from printed circuit boards (PCBs) to integrated circuits. This is sometimes referred to as ECAD (electronic computer-aided design) or just CAD.

Why am I mentioning this bit of trivia? To call everyone’s attention – especially local Portland Tech’ers – to the following presentation at next week’s Open Source Conference (OSCON):

Creating Open Source Electronic Hardware with Open Source Software?
Tom Anderson (Agilent Technologies)
11:35am – 12:20pm Friday, 07/25/2008
Tom Anderson works as a design automation scientist for Agilent Technologies. His current work project is to invent new circuit simulation capabilities for Agilent engineers. On his own time he builds electronics projects and is an author for MAKE magazine, and creates Open Source Hardware for Quaketronics.
See you there!

2 Responses to “Open Source Hardware and EDA tools”

  1. Mike Says:

    You forgot to mention which includes the old Magic layout editor, and actually supports a full digital flow. I can’t vouch for how good it is, and it’s definitely not user-friendly to set up, but it could be a game-changer. The cost to entry for chip design is now insanely high, how do start-up companies do it? The cost of tools is way more then what I’ve been quoted from a couple of fabs for a small chip run, and the cost of tools alone is our barrier to entry.

    Tanner makes some cheap layout tools, but even they will admit that it’s not suitable for any kind of large digital design.

  2. Mentor Graphics Says:

    Its great to see open (community) EDA projects. I think OVM is licensed under Apache2.

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