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Is ActiveRoute any good?

gyuunyuu1989 , 05-25-2023, 05:51 PM
I found some videos on youtube that cover the topic of ActiveRoute. This is somewhat similar to auto routing but not exactly the same thing. For as long as I have been alive as an engineer, I have always heard that autorouter are poor or atleast severly low quality compared with manual routing. Technology changes overtime and this is age of AI. It is quite possible that these auto routing tools have actually improved but I cannot say.

I have seen these two videos but both are from the designers of Altium so is basically a marketing material:
Fast And High-Quality Routing in Altium Designer [Altium Designer] (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7i--6VquON8)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pvCD-axODWM [Altium] (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pvCD-axODWM)

I was quite shocked to see how quickly active route tool connected two BGAs containing several dozen nets, together within in few seconds. Is ActiveRoute good when used to route parts of the PCB or should be avoided like the plague?
WhoKnewKnows , 05-25-2023, 08:18 PM
My understanding is that in some circumstances autoroute is practical to use. With manual routing, rules are used to (help) prevent undesirables. If using autoroute, an additional set of rules must be managed in order to constrain the autorouter. I'm not that familiar, this is just what I've gleaned from other engineers.

Perhaps, if you get used to this process, there may be some common set of rules you can transport from one design to the next, perhaps if many of your designs are similar.🤷

@robertferanec please do videos about autorouter use? There must be a professional out there who swears by autorouter use. Let's hear what they have to say?

qdrives , 05-26-2023, 02:41 PM
@WhoKnewKnows The question is on ActiveRoute, not autoroute.

And no, @gyuunyuu1989 I am not able to tell you how good it is as I never used it.
It seems more for memory and other bus connections that I never needed.

But there is only one way to find out -- by using it!
robertferanec , 05-27-2023, 12:20 AM
some time ago I was working on an autoroute video where I wanted to try and compare different autorouters from different CAD softwares. The results were so bad, that I decided do not finish the video. For example, I deleted four tracks from a finished complex layout and none of the autorouters was able to route these four tracks back.

you may be able to use these tools if you have a lot of space on the board, but honestly, if you have a lot of space it means it will be easy to route it also for you. these tools suppose to help with large designs where you would need a lot of time to connect everything, but real complex designs are hard to route - it's not like shown in the marketing materials.

I don't think the conventional autorouters / active route are super successful - otherwise they would be already massively used. Simply, the old algorithms and approach is not good enough to be able to create a good aoutorouter.

But let's see what will happen when AI will be included in the process.
ajawamnet , 06-03-2023, 11:41 AM
I use autorouters quite a bit - both Specctra and Elektra. Both do autotuning as well as diff pairs; and they use widths from the Altium rules. Elektra will also use UseVia statements and process specctra .do files.
robertferanec , 06-05-2023, 04:32 AM
@ajawamnet that is interesting. what kind of boards do you design?
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