There's a reason for the difference in price between
the "shrinkwrap" tools and "high-end" such as Mentor,
Cadence & Zuken. At the end of the day, it boils down
to investment in R&D. Being generous, let's say a
profitable company can afford to invest 20% of revenue
in R&D.

A company like Protel can afford 20% of US $30m.
That's $6m! At $100k per head (very generous) that's
60 people.

A company with > $100m in PCB revenues is investing
closer to $20m. At $100k per head that's 200.

The cost per head is probably higher but the ratios
are probably OK.

Now on top of all this, look at how many products have
to be supported - Altium has a lot of products besides
PCB design, and within PCB design they have Protel &
PCAD). Apply the above to their PCB revenue only (I
don't know what that is but it's smaller than $30m).

Moral of the story - you get what you pay for, which
by the way, is not necessarily a bad thing. Most users
seem pretty happy on this list for the type of boards
they are doing. As things get more complex, more
high-speed constrained as you are finding, work it
out.

A little side comment, a weakness of the VeriBest
router is it's hispeed support. Check out:

http://www.specctra.com/Downloads/Pdf/SPECCTRABenchmark.pdf

--- Mike Reagan <[EMAIL PROTECTED]> wrote:
> Hello All,
> 
> I was invited to attend a workshop with Mentor
> Graphics Expedition series.
> This is  a PC based, schematic capture and pcb
> layout. Needless to say quite
> impressive and even more impressive was the price. 
> The full set of Sch and
> pcb tool with the features you need to make it work
> was around 36K.  A basic
> starter edition can be purchased for 12K.  I don't
> want to make a pitch for
> Mentor, but instead make some comparisons to 99SE. 
> The interface was
> actually quite similar to Protel.  It was intuitive.
> I probably could do 90
> percent of my design by pulling down menus and
> selecting  options.  That is
> what I didn't like about it, it was too mouse
> dependant.  I like protel and
> Orcad  with  combinations of keys and mouse clicks.
> I can move twice as fast
> considering that I have a handicap in my mouse hand.
> Mentors's claim to a common database is not as well
> supported as Protel's .
> Basically their schematic and pcb are two packages
> that are well linked.
> And gentlemen start your engines, because everything
> about this program was
> fast.  Their "synchronizer" was fast,  I mean real
> fast.    Their panning,
> refresh, post processing, drcs, everything must have
> been written in quick
> code.
> 
> I had seen a quick demo of this software when it was
> under the name
> VERIBEST.  Verybest had the best pcb software on the
> market several years
> ago.   Cadence in their infinite wisdom pulled the
> only available router
> from the competitors market several years ago. 
> Where was the FTC when this
> monopoly tried to kill the competition?  Struggling
> companies like PADS and
> Accel were eaten up,  Mentor ate up Verybest as a
> move to find an
> autorouter.    Veribest software was more superior
> than Mentor's own home
> grown so they adopted the Veribest software as their
> own product.   Good
> Move.
> 
> The key to this software is the router.    I have
> posted many times over the
> past several years how important the router is to
> pcb.  With Mentor,  you
> can pick up a part, drop in an area where a ton  of
> traces already exists,
> and watch the traces instantly move, clear, clean or
> connect.  Oh did I say
> super clean, no post cleanup?  The code was quick,
> the cpu never choked and
> it never  took short vacations to quala land .   It
> was instantaneous
> response, always.   As  far as I know Protel and
> Mentor are the only
> programs written for NT , and were not DOS
> carry-overs.  But Mentor is
> faster
> 
> A few of you went to PCB west last month,  Raves
> about flickering menus,
> raves about seat comfort, raves about the interface
> to the cd player and the
> coffee warmer.  Protel's next release will set a
> course for where this
> company is really headed.  I see the market headed
> into high speed design
> which I have difficulty supporting right mow.   I
> have useless rule sets for
> high speed design, which Mentor easily supports.   
> I have not seen the
> level of support for high speed design as was
> integrated into Mentor's
> Expedition product.   99SE is not a simple drawing
> package  or  a substitute
> for taping.   It is a serious engineering tool.   I
> want serious engineering
> features, rules and drcs.    I am ready to step up
> to the plate only because
> the designs I receive require high speed rules.   So
> 36 K for Mentor doesn't
> seam unreasonable for high speed design if it is
> well supported
> 
> To end my commentary:  I am still waiting with my
> checkbook in hand  for
> Protel,  but would consider writing more checks.  I
> have reached the next
> game level
> 
> 
> 
> Mike Reagan
> EDSI
> 
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