Comparison of EDA software

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This page is a comparison of electronic design automation (EDA) software which is used today to design the near totality of electronic devices. Modern electronic devices are too complex to be designed without the help of a computer. Electronic devices may consist of integrated circuits (ICs), printed circuit boards (PCBs), field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) or a combination of them. Integrated circuits may consist of a combination of digital and analog circuits. These circuits can contain a combination of transistors, resistors, capacitors or specialized components such as analog neural networks, antennas or fuses.

The design of each of these electronic devices generally proceeds from a high- to a low-level of abstraction. For FPGAs the low-level description consists of a binary file to be flashed into the gate array, while for an integrated circuit the low-level description consists of a layout file which describes the masks to be used for lithography inside a foundry.

Each design step requires specialized tools, and many of these tools can be used for designing multiple types of electronic circuits. For example, a program for high-level digital synthesis can usually be used both for IC digital design as well as for programming an FPGA. Similarly, a tool for schematic-capture and analog simulation can generally be used both for IC analog design and for PCB design.

In the case of integrated circuits (ICs) for example, a single chip may contain today more than 20 billion transistors (which is more than two transistors for every human on Earth) and, as a general rule, every single transistor in a chip must work as intended. Since a single VLSI mask set can cost up to 10-100 millions, trial and error approaches are not economically viable. To minimize the risk of any design mistakes, the design flow is heavily automatized. EDA software assists the designer in every step of the design process and every design step is accompanied by heavy test phases. Errors may be present in the high-level code already, such as for the Pentium FDIV floating-point unit bug, or it can be inserted all the way down to physical synthesis, such as a missing wire, or a timing violation.

Comparison of proprietary EDA software[edit]

Mainstream EDA software bundles for ICs design[edit]

The world of electronic design automation (EDA) software for integrated circuit (IC) design is dominated by the three vendors Synopsys, Cadence Design Systems and Siemens EDA (Formerly Mentor Graphics, acquired in 2017 by Siemens) which have a revenue respectively of 4,2 billion US$, 3 billion US$ and 1,3 billion US$.

These vendors offer software bundles which allow to cover the full spectrum of IC design, from HDL synthesis to physical synthesis and verification.

The development of EDA software is tightly connected with the development of technology nodes. The properties of a specific semiconductor foundry, such as the transistor models, the physical characteristics and the design rules, are usually encoded in file formats which are proprietary to one or more EDA vendors. This set of files constitutes the process design kit (PDK) and it is usually developed as a joint effort between the foundry and an EDA vendor. Foundries therefore usually release PDKs which are compatible only for one specific EDA bundle. The information contained inside PDKs is usually considered confidential. PDKs are therefore usually protected by non disclosure agreements (NDAs) and may be shipped in an incomplete or in an encrypted form to the designers.

Proprietary software for electrical simulation (analog/mixed-signal/electromagnetic)[edit]

Application and developer Platform Latest release Schematic? Simulation? PCB editing? User Interface Language(s) Imports Exports Scripting support
Version Date
Advanced Design System by Keysight EEsof EDA POSIX[1] 2019[2] 2018-11-15 Yes Yes, full-wave electromagnetic simulation and netlist simulation Yes en HSPICE, SPICE, Spectre netlists; Gerber, Excellon, ODB++, artwork; more HSPICE, SPICE, Spectre netlists; Gerber, Excellon, ODB++, artwork; more Python, Application Extension Language (proprietary; "AEL")
CircuitLogix by Logic Design Windows 10 2019-01 Yes Yes, netlist simulation (analog and digital) Yes en SPICE, Gerber, DXF SPICE, PDF, Gerber, DXF
LTspice by Analog Devices
Windows, macOS, Wine 17.1.15 2023-10-02 Yes Yes, netlist simulation (analog) No en netlist netlist
(free, end-of-life)
Windows 2021-06-17
Yes Yes, netlist simulation (analog and digital) No en, jp HSPICE, PSPICE, SPICE3, netlists, Images, IBIS, Touchstone SPICE text file, netlist, BOM, Protel, Accel, OrCad, PADS netlists, Schematic and Analysis Plots Images, Numeric Output Text, Excel

Comparison of proprietary software for PCB design[edit]

Application and developer Platform Latest release Schematic? Simulation? PCB editing? User Interface Language(s) Imports Exports Scripting support
Version Date
Altium Designer (former Protel) by Altium Windows 23.3[3] 2023-03-16 Yes Yes Yes Multilingual OrCAD, Allegro, PADS Logic, PADS PCB, Expedition, DxDesigner, EAGLE, P-CAD, Gerber, STEP, Solidworks, IDF, more 3D PDF, Gerber, Gerber X2, Excellon, ODB++, DXF, STEP, OrCAD, EAGLE, EDB, more Delphi, JS, VB
CADSTAR, Board Designer, and Visula by Zuken Windows 2022.0 2022-08-31 Yes Yes, SI & PI Yes en PADS, OrCAD, P-CAD, Protel, DXF, IDF PDF, Gerber, Excellon, ODB++, DXF, IDF more COM, macros
CircuitMaker by Altium Windows 2 2021-07 Yes No Yes en Importer Removed since Last Version (1.3) Gerber, Excellon, DXF, STEP, PDF None
CR-5000 by Zuken POSIX 13 2011-05-17 Yes Yes, SI & PI Yes en, jp EDIF, DXF, IGES, IDF, BSDL, STEP, ACIS, Gerber, Excellon, more PDF, Gerber, Excellon, ODB++ (must request[4]), DXF, STEP, IPC D-356, IPC-2581, EPS, ACIS
CR-8000 by Zuken POSIX 2020 2020-06-30 Yes Yes, SI & PI, IBIS-AMI/SERDES Yes en, jp EDIF, DXF, IGES, IDF, BSDL, STEP, ACIS, Gerber, Excellon, more PDF, Gerber, Excellon, ODB++ (must request[4]), DXF, STEP, IPC D-356, IPC-2581, EPS, ACIS
DesignSpark PCB by RS Components Windows 9.0.3 2020-07-08 Yes Yes, Spice Yes en EAGLE, DXF, EDIF Gerber, Excellon, ODB++, DXF, IDF, PDF, LPKF
DipTrace by Novarm POSIX 2023-01-18 Yes External
(Spice netlist export)
Yes 21 languages Altium, Eagle, KiCad, OrCAD, P-CAD, PADS, Gerber, N/C Drill, DXF, BSDL Pinlist, Netlists Gerber, Gerber X2, Excellon, ODB++, DXF, Eagle, P-CAD, PADS, OrCAD, IPC-D-356, STEP, VRML, Pick and Place, CSV, BOM
EAGLE by Autodesk/CadSoft Computer POSIX 9.6.2 2020-05-27 Yes Ngspice Yes de, en, zh, hu, ru EAGLE (XML), ACCEL (P-CAD, Altium, Protel), ULTIBOARD, Netlists, BMP, Custom EAGLE (XML), Protel, Netlists, Images, Gerber, Gerber X2, Excellon, Sieb & Meyer, HPGL, PostScript/EPS, PDF, Images, HyperLynx, IDF, Custom Proprietary User Language Programming (ULP)
EasyEDA POSIX 6.4.5 2020-08-19 Yes Ngspice Yes en, fr, de, pl, jp, ru, es, se, ua, zh ... Altium, EAGLE, KiCad libraries, LTspice .asc/.asy files, JSON, Spice PDF, PNG, SVG, JSON, Gerber, Excellon, Pick and Place CSV file, CSV-formatted drill chart, Bill of Materials CSV file, Altium netlist, FreePCB netlist, PADS Layout Netlist, Spice netlist. JSON
ChromeOS as a Web application
NI Ultiboard and Multisim by National Instruments Windows 14.2 [5] 2019-05-19 Yes Yes Yes en MS*, MP*, EWB, Spice, OrCAD, UltiCap, Protel, Gerber, DXF, Ultiboard 4&5, Calay BOM, Gerber, Excellon, IGES (3D), DXF (2D & 3D), SVG
Web application[6]
OrCAD Windows 17.4 - 22.1 2022-10-20 Yes Yes Yes en EAGLE, PADS, Altium, STEP, DXF, IDF, IDX, OrCAD SDT, OrCAD Layout,OrCAD PDF, Gerber, Gerber X2, Excellon drill/route, netlist, ODB++, DXF, IDF, IDX, STEP,3D PDF, IPC2581 Tcl/TK, SKILL (Lisp)
Proteus by Labcenter Electronics Ltd Windows 8.16 2023-04-24 Yes Yes Yes en Gerber, BMP, DXF PDF, Gerber, GerberX2, Excellon, ODB++, DXF, IDF, PKP, testpoint file, metafile, BMP. internal script
Pulsonix by WestDev Ltd Windows 12.0 2018-10-01 Yes Yes Yes en Allegro, Altium, CadStar, EAGLE, OrCAD, PADS, P-CAD, Protel, Gerber, STEP, DXF, IDF, more Gerber, Gerber X2, Excellon, ODB++, IPC-2581, PDF, DXF, STEP, IDF, BOM, more Proprietary language, ActiveX
TARGET 3001! Windows 2020-12-14 Yes Yes Yes en, de, fr EAGLE, DXF, Gerber, Gerber, Excellon, BMP, CXF, STEP 3D Gerber, Gerber X2, Excellon, EAGLE, HPGL, G-Code (Milling), CXF, STEP 3D, Excel BOMs, Pick&Place, GenCAD, FABmaster, IPC D-356, Test points, Netlists, OBJ, POV-Ray, PDF Package generator scripts, BOM scripts, printing and PDF generator scripts, 3D scripts
TINA Windows 12.0 2019-12 Yes Yes Yes 23 languages (en, de, fr, es and 19 other languages) VHDL, Verilog, Verilog-A, and Verilog-AMS VHDL, Verilog, Verilog-A, and Verilog-AMS
Upverter POSIX N/A 2019-05-10 Yes No Yes en Altium, OrCad, PDF, OpenJSON, EAGLE PDF, Gerber, Excellon, netlist, PADS Layout Netlist, Tempo Automation, Pick and Place CSV, High-Res PNG, STL, CSV-formatted drill chart, CSV-formatted list of all parts
Web application
123D Circuits by Autodesk POSIX N/A Yes, + breadboard Yes Yes en EAGLE Gerber
Web application
Application and developer Platform Latest release Schematic? Simulation? PCB editing? User Interface Language(s) Imports Exports Scripting support
Version Date

Comparison of free software EDA tools[edit]

Free software EDA bundles for IC design[edit]

Free and open-source EDA software bundles are currently under fast development mainly thanks to the DARPA and Google's openROAD project. The OpenROAD project offers a complete stack of tools from high-level synthesis down to layout generation[7] The flow includes Yosys for logic synthesis, OpenLane for physical synthesis and targets the SkyWater 130nm PDK. The flow is currently utilized to submit design for free fabrication at Google.[8][9][better source needed]

Free software for high-level synthesis[edit]

High-level synthesis software can generally be used for the design of both application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs) and field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs). Most high-level synthesis software is used to edit and verify code written in one of the mainstream hardware description languages (HDL) like VHDL or Verilog. Other tools instead operate at a higher level of abstraction and allow to synthesize HDL code starting from languages like Chisel or SpinalHDL. The higher abstraction of such languages enables formal verification of HDL code.[10][11][better source needed]

Name Architecture License Comment
Icarus Verilog *BSD, Linux, Mac GPL-2.0-or-later Verilog simulator
Verilator Posix LGPL-3.0-only or Artistic-2.0 Verilator is the fastest free Verilog HDL simulator. It compiles synthesizable Verilog into cycle accurate C++ or SystemC code following 2-state synthesis (zero delay) semantics. Benchmarks reported on its website suggest it is several times faster than commercial event driven simulators such as ModelSim, NC-Verilog and VCS, while not quite as fast as commercial cycle accurate modeling tools such as Carbon ModelStudio and ARC VTOC.

Free software for IC physical synthesis and layout[edit]

This list does not include schematic editors or simulators since these can generally be used both for Integrated Circuits (ICs) and for Printed Circuit Board (PCB) as long as device models are available.

Name Architecture License Autorouter Comment
Electric *BSD, Java GPL-3.0-or-later Yes VLSI circuit design tool with connectivity at all levels. Can also be used for schematic entry and PCB design.
Magic Linux BSD license No A very-large-scale integration layout tool

Free software for schematic editing and analog/mixed-signal simulation[edit]

Name Architecture License Comment
Gnucap any (C++11) GPL-3.0-or-later Mixed-signal circuit simulator
KTechLab Linux GPL KTechLab is a schematic capture and simulator. It is specifically geared toward mixed signal simulation of analog components and small digital processors.
Ngspice Linux, Solaris, Mac, NetBSD, FreeBSD, Windows BSD-3-Clause SPICE + XSPICE + Cider
Oregano GPL-2.0-or-later Schematic capture + spice simulation
Quite Universal Circuit Simulator (QUCS) Linux, Solaris, Mac, NetBSD, FreeBSD, Windows GPL-2.0-or-later Schematic capture + Verilog + VHDL + simulation. Qucs-S fork supports SPICE backends Ngspice, Xyce, & SpiceOpus.
XCircuit Unix GPL Used to produce netlists and publish high-quality drawings.

Free software for PCB design[edit]

Name Architecture License Autorouter Imports Exports Scripting support Comment
FreePCB Windows GPL Yes A printed circuit board design program for Microsoft Windows. FreePCB allows for up to 16 copper layers, both metric and US customary units, and export of designs in Gerber format. Boards can be partially or fully autorouted with the FreeRouting[12] autorouter by using the FpcROUTE Specctra DSN design file translator.
Fritzing Windows, Mac, Linux GPL-3.0-or-later Yes gEDA symbols, KiCad symbols, SVG Gerber, DIY etching, BOM, SVG, PDF, EPS Protoboard view, schematic view, PCB view, Code (firmware) view. Includes customizable design rule checker. Includes common shaped boards like Arduino and Raspberry Pi shields. Allows spline curve traces. Only two layers (top and bottom). Outputs gerbers.
gEDA *BSD, Linux, Mac GPL-2.0-or-later Yes gschem netlists, image as background Gerber, Excellon, SVG, PDF, EPS, PNG, GIF, JPEG, Specctra, XYRS Guile (Scheme) schematic, simulation, PCB editor, gerber view
KiCad Linux, Mac, Windows GPL-3.0-or-later FreeRouting Altium, CadStar, EAGLE (XML), P-CAD, Fabmaster, TinyCAD net lists, OrCAD EDIF PDF, Gerber, Gerber X2, Excellon, netlist, VRML2, STEP, IDFv3 Python Full package for schematic and board design, etc. Design rule checking. User-defined symbols and footprints. Gerber/ drill file creation. Graphic interface. Active user community.
pcb-rnd *BSD, Linux, Mac, Windows GPL-2.0-or-later Yes gschem netlists, Protel Autotrax, KiCad (legacy & s-expr layouts), EAGLE (XML & v3,4,5 binary layouts), eeschema netlists, mentor netlists, TinyCad netlists, Calay netlist, FreePCB/easyEDA netlist, LT-Spice, MUCS, Mentor Graphics Hyperlynx, image (BMP, JPG, GIF, PNG), HPGL, BXL, Specctra (DSN), PADS Gerber/drill,SVG, PDF, EPS, PNG, GIF, JPEG, Specctra (DSN), PADS, Protel Autotrax, KiCad (legacy & s-expr), DXF, FidocadJ, Mentor Graphics Hyperlynx, template configurable XYRS/BOM Python, lua, perl, tcl, AWK (multiple dialects), lisp & scheme (multiple dialects), javascript, ruby, pascal, BASIC Circuit layout program with extended file format support, DRC, parametric footprints, query language, and GUI and command line operation for batch processing and automation

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "ADS Supported Platforms". Archived from the original on 2017-10-15. Retrieved 2015-03-20.
  2. ^ "PathWave Advanced Design System (ADS) Software | Keysight".
  4. ^ a b "PCB tools supporting ODB++". Artwork Conversion Software Inc. Retrieved 2011-09-25.
  5. ^ "Upgrade Multisim™ - National Instruments".
  6. ^ "Multisim Web App". Archived from the original on 2017-04-19. Retrieved 2017-04-18.
  7. ^ "The OpenROAD Project, OpenROAD seeks to develop and foster an autonomous, 24-hour, open-source layout generation flow (RTL-to-GDS)". Retrieved 2022-09-08.
  8. ^ "Make Your Own Chips for Free. Design and fabricate your own open-source design for free with the Open MPW Program".
  9. ^ "Build Open Silicon with Google".
  10. ^ "Open-Source Formal Verification for Chisel" (PDF). Retrieved 2022-09-08.
  11. ^ "Formal verification". Retrieved 2022-09-08.
  12. ^ Wirtz, Alfons (2014-03-08) [2004]. "FreeRouting - Printed Circuit Board Routing Software from". Archived from the original on 2017-09-23. Retrieved 2017-09-24.