WILSONVILLE, OR -- Mentor Graphics today announced a redefined Pads suite priced as low as $5,000 a seat, including support.

The suite includes three levels of product capability, ranging from a basic tool featuring schematic and PCB layout to a "pro" version that includes constraint management, high-speed and sketch routing, thermal simulation and 3D layout.

With the move, Mentor is aggressively courting engineers that perform design as part of a larger body of responsibilities. The company has priced the tools at a level where individual users could find the price too attractive to ignore even if their corporate employer was settled on a different flow.

"We need to be able to address independent users," said Dave Wiens, Mentor business development manager, Systems Design, in explaining the newly designed tools. Such users, he said, are usually employees of small- to mid-sized companies, or designers within a large corporation, and responsible for everything from layout to analysis and data delivery.

Mentor sees the newly tailored products as filling the niche of designers who do everything from schematic capture to PDN integrity analysis and thermal analysis. 

The suite is made up of three tools: Pads Standard, Pads Standard Plus, and Pads Professional.

The entry tool, Pads Standard, performs schematic capture and PCB layout. It comes with a starter parts library, parts creation wizard, and archive management, and is priced at $5,000, including support. Standard Plus adds advanced constraint management, high-speed net constraints and routing, central library creation and management, HyperLynx-powered signal/thermal/analog simulation, and variants design. It is priced at $10,000 a seat including support.

Professional adds Xpedition-based sketch routing, simultaneous 2D/3D layout. hierarchical placement planning, component and net explorers, and other Valor-based manufacturing and design check tools for $18,000 a seat including support.

The tools reportedly scale to the Xpedition Enterprise platform, Mentor added.

"As the industry grows there is more need for higher productivity design capabilities for the independent engineer," said AJ Incorvaia, general manager of Mentor's Systems Design division. "With the Pads offerings we can better serve the independent engineer with scalable price-performance options from lower-priced options up to highly complex design and analsyis." 

One thing the suite is not is cloud-based. Mentor said it was not ready to discuss any product offerings for the cloud.


For a video preview, click here

Read Mike Buetow's commentary on the CAD software pricing wars here.

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