Hey folks,

        It seems that a majority of you are doing some very dense, high-speed 
layouts with 4-6 layers being quite a common occurrence. I'm just wondering 
how much you typically route by hand, and how much you let the auto-router 
whack away at.

        Being primarily self-taught in the ways of Protel, and with the help of a 
few 'older school' engineer friends here and there, I've done a number of 
successful design layouts thus far, but these have been relatively simple 2 
and 4 layer designs without many small-pitch/high pin-count devices. I'm 
moving more towards laying out more high-speed designs in the near future 
where a lot of stuff needs to be fit into a small place, and all connect 
together without traces and vias meandering all over.

        When I look at sample six layer boards (such as the 5407 EVM reference 
design Motorola has released) the bussing and interconnects are extremely 
elegant and efficient in appearance. For fun, I unrouted the 5407 board and 
then let the autorouter chew on it. It immediately made 'via swiss-cheese' 
out of the board and created little more than a large mess. I'm GUESSING 
quite a bit of these sort of designs are laid out by hand, or at least 
pre-routed to give the auto-router a sense of direction?

        Can anyone offer some basic pointers to getting started into planning and 
laying out PCBs for multi-layer, high-speed designs such as these? I have 
no idea where one would really even start with something like this. It 
seems most of the important knowledge gets passed directly from engineer to 
engineer; there are certainly no university classes (that I know of, 
anyway) that teach you how to lay out a dense, 6 layer board. :/ I 
appreciate the patience and wisdom of those who remember once being where I 
am now, who are willing to take the time to pass some of the tips and 
tricks down the engineering family tree.

        Thanks again for any pointers anyone can provide (either through the list, 
or privately.)

Best regards,
-- Matt

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