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case study

Adcom Computers uses Xpedition for collaboration, reliability, and shorter time-to-market

Adcom Computers uses Xpedition for collaboration and reliability

Adcom Computers and Communication

Adcom Computers and Commuication is an Electronic Design Center. Its operations are split equally between military/defense and civilian companies. Adcom participated in many design projects including digital, analog, and FPGA designs, as well as SW embedded tailored solutions.
Kfar-Saba, Israel
Xpedition Enterprise


Adcom Computers uses Xpedition for collaboration and reliability

In the early 1980s, Israel-based Adcom was a pioneer in telephone exchange centers, auto dialers, and call cataloging. By the late 1980s, they were developing test equipment for electronic design companies and large defense customers such as Elbit and Rafael. A few years later, Adcom began customizing product designs, migrating to the Siemens EDA Xpedition® platform in 2000 to keep up with customer demand for new and unique products.

Adcom Computers and Communication isn’t afraid of a challenge. Keying off their desire to try new things, Adcom works with the latest PCB design technologies to ensure that customers get high-quality, reliable products, delivered on time.

Reducing time-to-market is a big challenge. To avoid the scheduling dependencies of outside contractors, Adcom uses in-house experts as much as possible, making communication and co-design critical to their success. The Xpedition platform supports this design flow by allowing the Adcom team to collaborate efficiently.

"With Xpedition, we are able to reduce cycle time by 15-20%", said Moshe Frid, a team leader at Adcom Computers and Communication.
Adcom's Neptune FPGA-based hardware acceleration card

Using flow-based concurrency during the schematic design phase, team members can work with the same database in real time without any need to partition and re-assemble. This enables them to work in parallel, without suffering consistency issues.

“We collaborate across the entire design flow,” said Moshe Frid, a team leader at Adcom. “In the schematic design phase, for example, we usually have four to five team members contributing simultaneously and concurrently. We also make sure we add instructions during the electrical design phase, so everything is organized when it’s time to start the layout. It helps that by using Xpedition, anyone can grab what they need so they can continue working without bottlenecks.”

In addition to design concurrency, Adcom uses component placement groups to save time during the layout phase. They also find sketch routing to be helpful, and expect to start using reused blocks in the near future.

Adcom is extremely diligent with regard to details, constantly checking each other’s work to achieve first-time success. For instance, during component selection, team members consult constantly, going back and forth to ensure accurate selection of components and to avoid issues during the design process. By focusing on possible issues between hardware and software, they come up with scenarios that avoid dead ends.

“The key to managing the constantly changing industry and achieving success is the combination of best-in-class engineers and a best-in-class product design tool — using Xpedition is a perfect fit for Adcom,” said Ruth Kastner, COO at Adcom.

Being able to have several people working on the same product at the same time helps reduce time to market, and nothing does that better than Xpedition.
Moshe Frid, team leader
Adcom Computers and Communication

Reducing Iterations and Ensuring Product Quality

Another challenge for Adcom is the complexity of their designs, spanning technologies from multi-board and rigid-flex, to analog and digital design and advanced packaging, their products can include boards with two to 20 layers, ranging in size from a pill capsule to 120 x 60cm. Transceivers can include both gigabit and analog signals sensitive to a few millivolts.

“When two signals are sitting next to each other on the same board while the board consumes over 100A voltage, balancing between them is a challenge,” said Frid.

Adcom noted that the Xpedition simulation tools make a big difference in Adcom’s ability to meet project goals.

To achieve first-time-success and ensure product quality, Adcom uses signal integrity (SI) and power integrity (PI) analysis regularly, including pre- and post-layout simulation and verification. Adcom also has an in-house thermal expert, with whom they collaborate closely. By performing thermal simulation frequently throughout the design phase, they are constantly aware of what’s going on with the PCB.

Although Adcom does not run design for manufacturing (DFM) analysis in-house, they make up for it by working closely with a dedicated manufacturer. Their fabricator reviews every new component that Adcom selects and discusses possible issues and necessary preparations with them, whether it’s using a special footprint, setting distances and impedance calculations, choosing the materials to use on the board, or determining the relationships between those materials.

Leveraging the Xpedition tool flow, Adcom uses the industry’s best practices of concurrent collaboration and “left-shift” analysis and verification to meet the challenges of today’s most complex PCB designs, while meeting time-to-market goals and providing reliable products to their customers.

What makes the difference at Adcom? Having a single, integrated, concurrent tool flow with all of the tools needed, from cross-probing between schematic and layout, and group placement and sketch routing to save time during the layout phase, to simulation throughout the design process.

Adcom received the Siemens 2017 Technology Leadership Award for best computer design award for the Neptune FPGA-based hardware acceleration card.

We are never afraid of challenges or something that has never been done before. But the one thing that we do not compromise on is design quality and reliability, so we use all the analysis tools we have on hand to ensure them.
Eli Moshe, an R&D Manager
Owner at Adcom

Award-Winning Technology

The panel of judges remarked that the product provides clean and high-routing density, excellent HDI design, and innovative heatsinks, making it an outstanding design in its category.

The card is an advanced, high pin count design that has to manage power efficiently under tight design constraints. With lots of copper to deliver currents throughout the card and data rates of 480 GB per second, the 18-layer design required thorough signal and power integrity analysis as well as 3D electromagnetics analysis.

Comprised of two entirely new Xilinx® UltraScale FPGAs as the main compute components, served by two 4Gb hybrid memory cubes connected by 15Gbps lines (total 480Gbps), there were no finished specs or reference boards to study. As a result, the project required tight collaboration with the Xilinx design team to iron out the kinks on the FPGA core code for the memory cube controller.


Adcom faced major challenges when designing the Neptune card.

  • Tight constraints of just 28mV noise margin on supply rails at 0.95V and a target impedance on the power distribution network of just 0.28m Ohms: To ensure product reliability, a lot of 3D electromagnetic (EM) analysis was needed. Using the Siemens HyperLynx® tool, the team devised a unique strategy for the placement of the capacitor. The team also optimized the stack-up with four embedded capacitance cores.

  • Meeting PCIe Gen3 requirements: a single 16-wide bus was bifurcated across the two FPGAs.

  • PCIe board thickness constraint with 18 layers.

  • To carry the current, a lot of copper was required so Adcom used thin cores with low dielectric constants (3.00 DK, 2.5mil thick). This allowed them to achieve 50 and 100 ohm impedances on critical lines.

  • HDI was used on the top three layers to run the majority of differential pairs without via stubs.

  • Tight collaboration with the manufacturer to ensure manufacturability.

  • ECAD/MCAD collaboration was crucial for thermal requirements.

  • Server chassis had to house eight identical PCIe cards pulling 300W each.

  • There was a daily iteration with MCAD for over two weeks to refine the placement in 3D using feedback from thermal analysis.