Thursday, January 31, 2013

Announcement: New!! Cypress PSoC, CapSense and Texas Instruments MSP430

The Altium Content Team is pleased to announce the release of new board-level components for Cypress and Texas Instruments - now available in the Altium Vault and Content Store.

We welcome Cypress to the Content Store, with a range of PSoC® and CapSense® Controllers making up this first release. PSoC (Programmable System-on-Chip) families include PSoC 1 with Cypress’ own 8-bit M8C core, PSoC 3 with 8-bit 8051 CPUs and the PSoC 5 featuring high-performance 32-bit ARM® Cortex™-M3. CapSense Controllers complete this group and includes CapSense Express and CapSense Plus. Please search across all these families for component models you may require as there is an amount of cross classification in these families and we have avoided any duplication of parts.

  1. Cypress PSoC 1
  2. Cypress PSoC 3
  3. Cypress PSoC 5
  4. Cypress CapSense Controllers

We have also updated our Texas Instruments board-level collection with the release of the complete MSP430 16-bit microcontroller family (1463 devices) including all lines and series. In Power Management we have now added Voltage References with another 1806 parts covered:

  1. Texas Instruments MSP430 16-bit Ultra-Low Power MCU
  2. Texas Instruments Shunt Voltage Reference
  3. Texas Instruments Series Voltage Reference
  4. Texas Instruments Current Reference

A total of 3727 components have been released across these 2 manufacturers. These components can be found in the Unified Components section of the Content Store. You can also use these components directly from within Altium Designer via the Vault Explorer - where you will also find up-to-date!!! supplier links with pricing and availability information. As always, for integrated libraries, look for the ‘Download Library’ button on the Content Store pages.


Monday, January 28, 2013

The importance of Keeping drivers up to Date - and Recent Radeon GCN Architecture

We recently had a period of time, where a particular graphics architecture was exhibiting specific problems within Altium Designer. The only solution to this particular issue was to wait for the card manufacturer to release a set of drivers which properly interacted with DirectX.

The updated drivers are available, so anyone who was having any trouble with items disappearing at different zoom levels, or other graphic artifacts, while using an AMD Radeon HD 7000 series card, should go ahead and download and install the updated drivers now.

I also want to take this opportunity to mention the importance of keeping your drivers up to date, or checking for updated drivers when you are having a technical issue, including software stability. I solve issues with Altium Designer and general system instability for Altium Users fairly regularly and the most common solution to many of these issues is simply a driver update.

In general, the first driver you will need to update, and a driver you may update frequently, is your Graphics driver.

Most commonly for an NVidia(GeForce and Quaddro) or an AMD(Radeon or FireGL)

for AMD Drivers, start here:

For NVidia drivers, start here:


The driver that is frequently overlooked is the Motherboard Chipset driver, and in the event you have a chipset driver which is not functioning well, or as good as it should, you can have general system instability, which can present itself in a variety of ways. If you aren't having issues, chances are your driver is working OK. However, if you are having stability issues, PLEASE check for an updated chipset driver for your motherboard, for the appropriate Operating System and install it.

If you have the option between using the default Chipset driver provided by Windows for your motherboard, or a more updated driver which was created by the chipset manufacturer, use the manufacturer driver. Updated drivers are typically provided to correct problems found in use.

Each motherboard has a different chipset, so first identify your chipset, then determine if there is an updated driver available for you.

Again, I just want to re-iterate the importance of drivers and to encourage you to check and update from time to time.

In some cases, you cannot get a driver direct from the card or motherboard manufacturer, sometimes you have to get it from the Computer Vendor, this is sometimes the case with certain brands and configurations of laptops which have to have special drivers created for them. In this case, you will want to check the Vendor website for your particular model(i.e. Dell, HP, IBM, etc)

Friday, January 25, 2013

AD2013 is in beta now

AD2013 is in beta now, IIRC Altium are going to release more details over
the next weeks.

As you know, Altium Designer updates deliver technologies and enhancements that
improve your design environment; this next update is no exception. In fact it's
a little bit beefier than your typical update and it underlines Altium's
commitment to our core tools and customer needs.

Altium Designer 2013 is a collection of updates that have been delivered over
the last 12 months plus, it includes new PCB features and updates to the core
PCB and Schematic tools.

Some of the highlights of this release include:

·         PCB object and Layer transparency settings

New PCB object and Layer
transparency settings have been added to the View Configurations dialog.

·         Outline vertices editor for PCB Polygon

New outline vertices editor for
Polygon Pour, Polygon Cutout and Solid Region objects.

·         Schematic Pin name/designator position,
font and color customization

The pin name and designator
position, font and color can now be customized individually.

·         Port height and font control

Port height, border width and
text font can now be individually controlled.

·         Smart PDF documents contain component

Clicking on a component in a
PDF file produced by SmartPDF will display the parameters of that

·         Microchip Touch Controls support

Support for Microchip Touch
Controls has been added.

·         Improved DXP platform

DXP platform has been upgraded
to provide a robust and open development environment

·         Plus more...

the coming weeks there will be blogs from our Product Managers and supporting
collateral to help you understand the features in more depth.

keeping your Altium Subscription current, you already have what you need to get
these new features and enhancements as they are released.

More to come so stay

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Design Secret video 54 - Copy Room Formats when you want multi-channel designs with channels

Design Secret video 54 has now been published. In this video, Applications Engineer Dirk Glaser from our European support team shows how to use Copy Room Formats when you want multi-channel designs with channels at different angles. Very cool!

Please take a couple of minutes to watch this at

Monday, January 14, 2013

Announcement: New Xilinx Series-7 & Linear Technology Board-Level Components

The Altium Content Team has released new updates to the Vault and Content Store.

We're happy to announce the addition of Xilinx Series-7 FPGA board-level libraries including Artix-7, Kintex-7 and Virtex-7 - all available now. Also released are board-level components for Zynq-7000 devices. To view the latest from Xilinx in the Content Store click here.

In Linear Technology, Comparators join Op Amps with 630 new library parts added to the collection - covering all high speed and micropower comparators from Linear. Linear Technology Comparators

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Changes to BugCrunch and Dashboard and the introduction of Ideas!

At Altium we have a refreshed energy and refocus on our core technologies and as such I want a robust platform and system that supports our product development strategies.

Over the years, since the inception of AltiumLive and the introduction of BugCrunch many users have indicated that the system was cumbersome and that it should be split (at a minimum) into Bugs and Features. So we took this feedback on board and the fruits of our labour are being delivered in this update.

They say that timing is of the essence...

Coupled with my desire to have a robust community Bug and Ideas management system, about a week ago there was again a post in the Forums which alluded to some changes that member(s) of our community would like to see. In particular, were comments about our BugCrunch system and just generally turning AltiumLive into an ideas based forum.

As I mentioned, timing is of the essence because at the time that post was made, we were already in development of an Ideas based system, and improvements to Bugcrunch which were along the same lines as the enhancements suggested in the post.

There is also another notable change worth mentioning - this is the introduction of License Usage Statistics to the Dashboard.

1. Changes to BugCrunch

BugCrunch continues to be that place in our community that is designed to help you bring bugs to our attention and influence which ones get crunched first!

Based on community feedback we wanted to simplify the process that we have today and take points out of the equation. We’ve also removed the dependency of nominating and introduced a simple “me too” voting system. The process of logging a bug and submitting a “me too” vote will not require any points.

2. Introduction of Ideas

Ideas is a new section which provides you with a platform to suggest new enhancements and features as well as vote and comment on your favorite ideas. Product managers and other customers will also take part in Ideas discussions.

BugCrunch & Ideas have a number of steps:

1.    New - this is where you can report a new Bug or Idea. In this section you can also tell us what you think by commenting and voting on the items you think are important or cool. Voting for an Idea will cost you 20 points.

2.    In Development - is where you'll find bugs and ideas that are currently being implemented and fixed for an upcoming update. Issues or Ideas here are actively going through the development process.

3.    Crunched and Released - once our development teams have delivered a fix or implemented an Idea you will see it listed in this section.

Before you create a new Bug or Idea, it is advised that you search the system to see if the item is already listed. Searching will bring up archived items that are not visible in the other lists.

Things you also need to know:

1.    Use concise and specific report titles for easier searching and browsing

2.    Reports with clear, detailed and reproducible steps will result in greater community engagement and support.

3.    Bugs and Ideas that don’t get votes within a month of being listed will expire.

4.    Altium reserves the right to reject items such as not valid or relevant, not enough information or flagged as duplicates.

5.    Searching goes across both the BugCrunch and Ideas sections. Bugs and Ideas are clearly marked with Bug # or Idea # in the item title.

6.    The Private setting you see when you are adding attachments to items allows you to make the attachment Private between the originator and Altium only. People outside of Altium will not be able to see the attachment.

We have made the decision to rollback points that users contributed through the nomination and voting stages. This will be done in the coming days - to all people whose bug is still open (i.e has not been developed and/or implemented).

All AltiumLive members are welcome to engage in the debates around Bugs & Ideas!

3. License Usage Statistic now available on the Dashboard

Most of you would have been users of our My Altium Account website - which managed users and licenses. We have just moved the last of the functionality from that site into the AltiumLive. You can now see your License Usage Statistics in the Dashboard. There is the ability to view the usage by any given time period - just change the date filters.

To see this information go to the Licenses tab in Dashboard and click to view the details of each of the licenses.