PCB designs commonly undergo multiple respins as a result of inconspicuous signal integrity (SI), power integrity (PI), and electromagnetic interference (EMI) violations. At an average cost of nearly $28,000 per respin, ensuring that a given design meets its performance, time to market, and cost goals is imperative. To help eliminate complicated and difficult-to-diagnose layout violations, some PCB tool suites offer unique electrical design rule checks (DRC).

A screenshot of Altium DRC check tool

When using DRC analysis as part of the PCB design process, engineers can ensure that their PCBs fall within the proper constraints for many different, advanced electrical design rules. The DRC tool contains fully-customizable SI, PI, EMI, and safety rule checks that enable designers to identify and correct violations before starting the manufacturing process quickly. By running DRC analysis, it is possible to eliminate error-prone manual inspection and reduce costly design respins that impact the product’s time to market and the company’s profitability.

To illustrate the power of utilizing a PCB design tool with tightly-integrated DRC analysis, we will use the BeagleBone Black as an example. The BeagleBone Black is a low-power, open-source, single-board computer produced by Texas Instruments and commonly used by developers and hobby enthusiasts alike. This development board consists of a TI Sitara processor, providing a combination of performance, power, and peripherals to help drive down system cost, simplify design, and expand connectivity within the overall BeagleBone Black design. In addition to the TI Sitara processor, the board consists of 512 MB DDR3 RAM and 2GB of flash, and several physical interfaces and other features.

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Because the layout and DRC tools are fully integrated, a PCB design can be loaded into DRC directly from the PCB layout window. The rules within DRC are sorted into specific categories—SI, PI, EMI, and safety. And each rule contains a descriptive overview page, making it easy for designers to select the most important tests to run on their PCB layout.

911EDA PCB designers always run DRC checks during the design process and before generating final files.