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Key Takeaways

  • OrCAD X is the next generation of the OrCAD platform and gives new and experienced designers many features to improve layout workflows and manufacturability.

  • OrCAD X shortens the learning curve with a more intuitive user interface and tried-and-tested PCB design capabilities for a superior layout experience.

  • With a focus on the UI, designers using OrCAD X will spend less time navigating toolbars and panels, increasing efficiency.

Changes from OrCAD vs. OrCAD X include improvements to the 3D engine.

Changes from OrCAD vs. OrCAD X include improvements to the 3D engine.

Designers are a headstrong bunch – they know what works, including their CAD environments. Cadence believes that designers want to see giant leaps of progress that justify the adoption of a new PCB design software and all the workflow changes that come with it. In developing the OrCAD X rebranding, the focus has been on maximizing the value to the designer, simultaneously simplifying the adjustment period for current OrCAD users and people unfamiliar with any iteration of the software. Comparing OrCAD vs. OrCAD X, users will quickly see the overhaul implemented by Cadence to enhance efficiency and ease of use without sacrificing performance and customization capabilities.

The Advantages of OrCAD X

Users Without OrCAD Experience

Users Upgrading to OrCAD X

  • A significant overhaul of the UI, specifically OrCAD X Presto PCB Editor, offers a gentler learning curve to circuit layout confidence and success.

  • The powerful and sophisticated Constraint Manager lets users define design violations in a simple spreadsheet form.

  • PSpice for analog and mixed-signal simulation, including Monte Carlo methods for uncertainty, improves design consistency.

  • A new 3D engine improves the visualization of rigid/rigid-flex designs and includes MCAD-ECAD integration for better manufacturability.

  • DesignTrue DFM offers over 80 rules to constrain designs for manufacturing yield and quality.

  • Design Review and Markup allow teams to communicate and collaborate within projects, bundling comments with the task at hand.

OrCAD vs. OrCAD X: What’s New

  • The Live BOM feature assesses multiple angles of the BOM (procurement, compliance, lifecycle, etc.)

  • OrCAD X Presto PCB Editor – the new printed circuit board layout environment – is easy to learn and use for all levels of user experience.

  • Symphony allows real-time collaboration in the layout, supporting simultaneous updates for two users.

  • An expansion of the Constraint Manager ruleset affords greater design complexity.

  • 3D engine updates allow users to design actively rather than only view in 3D.

  • Live DOC lets users preview documents before output with standard templates, views, and objects.

  • Cloud-based data management and project management with Unified CIS and Workspaces (respectively) enhance organizational accessibility.

OrCAD X provides a familiar environment for designers with previous OrCAD experience while significantly reducing the learning curve for new users or those returning from extended absences. To quote Henry David Thoreau, the guiding principle of the latest version of OrCAD X: “Simplify, simplify.” The Cadence team has focused on minimizing command gating, window pop–ups, and function location redundancy. The result is lean software that prioritizes ease of use without sacrificing the robustness necessary for HDI designs featuring extensive DRC lists and component organization. 

It’s impossible to overstate the importance of the UI to an ECAD tool, but sometimes, it’s what users don’t see that improves the experience. The more the board design area is readily viewable without zooming in or adjusting panels, the fewer mouse moments and keyboard commands are needed to operate. Driving OrCAD X doesn’t involve searching through context-sensitive menus to find the desired command–functionality, as it is readily available with minimal clicks. Customization is still a critical philosophy, and users can rearrange their UI panels around the design area or output to a secondary monitor for an optimal viewing setup.

There’s much for experienced and new OrCAD users alike to see in OrCAD X:

  • New Constraint Manager rules - Additional physical and electrical options are available to meet the evolving needs of complex circuit board fabrication and assembly. Improvements to design rule checks facilitate error-free designs that minimize the probability and outcome of manufacturing defects while infusing high reliability throughout the service lifecycle.

  • Leading simulation capabilities - OrCAD X continues the legacy of standard PSpice integration with support for analog and mixed-signal boards. MATLAB Simulink integration gives design teams a powerful method of analyzing electromechanical system effects.

  • Live BOM - The BOM communicates critical component information and, together with the schematic, acts as the roadmap for standard board design. Managing BOMs can become a sole position on larger or more intricate assemblies, and procurement issues may necessitate quick revisions to adjust to market availability. Live BOM automates this approach by synthesizing a BOM using real-time updated component information from user-defined project libraries. 

View of high-pinout package routing.

The Live BOM dashboard reports component manufacturing status and compliance.

  • AI-powered design - These aren’t your father’s autorouters: AI layout tools utilize deep learning strategies to optimize component placement and routing to assist designers. Fully trained, these tools can handle more complex and unique board designs while requiring significantly less correction (if any) post-command. Designers are then free to focus on the broad strokes of the circuit form instead of rote layout tasks.

  • 3D engine updates - The continued prominence of flex and rigid-flex designs in modern devices allows for optimization of system assembly in tight enclosures. Fabrication and assembly of these circuits are more challenging than standard PCB manufacturing, and integrating between multiple sub-assemblies can introduce errors without careful observation of mechanical data. OrCAD X offers designers solutions to manipulate 3D assemblies according to material flexure and bend radii, radically reducing the chance of errors made before production.

OrCAD X Design Strengths Overview


High-speed design

  • Live routing, placement, and impedance analysis optimize the layout and minimize revision time.

  • High-level analysis of complex signal routing (differential pairs, pin-to-pin distance delay, backdrilling, coupling, etc.)

Design for manufacturing (DFM)

  • Incorporate DFM rules into DRC through the Constraint Manager.

  • Tweak design settings for fabrication, testing, and other parameters.

Interactive 3D

  • Bend circuit assemblies and measure in 3D for greater MCAD accuracy.

Data management

  • Real-time part libraries and BOM/revision control optimize workflows and prevent errors.

Cadence Solutions for Next-Generation PCB Design

When comparing OrCAD vs. OrCAD X, the choice is clear: designers familiar with the OrCAD experience and those new to it can look forward to a powerful CAD tool emphasizing user-first simplicity with a robust feature set. OrCAD X also features rich product integrations for signal/power integrity, manufacturability analysis, and data management necessary in modern board layouts. Cadence’s PCB Design and Analysis Software suite covers board DFM from every angle. Interested in learning more? Take OrCAD X for a test drive with the new OrCAD X platform.

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