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The Application of AI in Electronic Scheme Design

2024-04-08

By the end of 2022, ChatGPT suddenly gained worldwide popularity, bringing artificial intelligence, which had been dormant for many years, back into the public eye. This time, unlike previous waves of technological advancements in the field of artificial intelligence, it completely ushered AI from the 1.0 era into the 2.0 era, ushering in a new era of generative artificial intelligence globally. In addition to fields naturally penetrated by AI technologies such as text, speech, images, and videos, AI has also begun to emerge in many specialized fields. For example, in the field of electronic hardware engineering, where engineers excel in electronic design solutions, many teams have begun to use AI to accelerate the development process of electronic products. The author has collected and studied startup companies that are attempting to provide AI-assisted design tools in electronic design solutions. They come from different countries, including startup companies and teams incubated within traditional EDA (Electronic Design Automation) giants.

Overall, although AI is still in the early exploration stage in the field of electronic design solutions, the development of these teams or projects is still in its early stages. However, from their current development status, one can vaguely see the possibility of shortening the process from product ideation to product launch to within a day in the future. Below is a brief introduction to the AI tools or technologies of these companies. If you need more details about a specific tool or technology, each introduction is followed by the corresponding official website, where you can click to access more information.

1.Celus (Germany): https://www.celus.io

Concept: Celus' website prominently promotes "transforming ideas into PCBs in minutes."

Workflow: Engineers first convert requirements into system diagrams in Celus' IDE, and then use AI to convert system diagrams into schematics, PCBs, and BOMs.

Highlights: Celus is based on a cloud architecture, and all generated schematics, PCBs, and BOM components are promptly updated iteratively, effectively preventing component discontinuation or price fluctuations that would no longer meet system requirements. Celus provides the CUBOs component library, which has a powerful and rich set of components that enable engineers to quickly build their prototypes and reuse designs, components, and BOMs, making the hardware design process more efficient.

Business Model: Currently collaborating with traditional manufacturers on pilot projects, SAAS model.

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2.Flux (USA): https://www.flux.ai/

Concept: Transforming ideas into PCB designs at 10x speed.

Workflow: Engineers draw schematics in Flux similarly to using traditional EDA tools, outputting schematics, PCBs, and BOMs.

Highlights: Embedded with the AI electronics engineer assistant Copilot, Flux can recommend components and help engineers quickly read datasheets and answer questions based on datasheets. It can also connect components on schematics according to requirements, simplifying repetitive work and collaboration issues in the electronic design process using traditional EDA tools.

Business Model: SAAS model, Basic free, Pro $3/month, Ultra $29/month.

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3.CircuitTree (India): https://circuit-tree.com

Concept: Using AI to quickly complete hardware design work.

Workflow: Engineers configure technical requirements (non-product requirements) in the IDE, such as processor type, official feet, and the number of GPIOs. AI searches for corresponding components and generates system diagrams, and then generates schematics, PCB layouts, and wiring based on the system diagrams, outputting schematics, PCBs, and BOMs.

Highlights: A typical AI EDA tool that automatically generates schematics based on engineers' configured technical requirements and automatically generates PCBs based on schematics.

Business Model: SAAS model, Basic free, Design Service $300/Design, Advanced Service $500 + 10 BOMs.

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4.CircuitMind (UK): https://www.circuitmind.io/mission

Concept: Generate schematics from architecture to schematics within 60 seconds.

Workflow: The workflow is similar to CircuitTree, outputting schematics, PCBs, and BOMs.

Highlights: There is limited information available about CircuitMind.

Business Model: SAAS.

5.AFH (China): https://sz-index.com

Concept: Advocate for "AI-generated hardware", promoting the use of AI for end-to-end automatic generation of PCBA production materials from product requirements.

Workflow: Users communicate product requirements with the AFH Engine in natural language, then click to generate, automatically producing electronic design PCB drawings and corresponding embedded code that meet the requirements.

Highlights: Capable of fully end-to-end generating PCBA required for electronic products, including accompanying embedded functional code. The downside is that currently, it can only complete AI model training industry by industry. The industries currently supported are LED lighting and home electronics. According to its official website, AFH can compress the development cycle of electronically developed products from traditional modes from up to 2 months to 2 days.

Business Model: One-stop service model from R&D to production supply of PCBA.

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6.JITX (USA): https://www.jitx.com

Concept: Software-defined hardware.

Workflow: Enter system diagrams and functional descriptions, then describe the connections between hardware components through scripting, and then compile to generate hardware drawings.

Highlights: Using code programming to complete hardware drawing design work.

Business Model: Custom PCB, $1000/month.

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7.DeepPCB (London): https://deeppcb.ai

Concept: Cloud-native AI PCB routing tool.

Workflow: Upload completed PCB layout drawings, and DeepPCB will complete automatic routing within 24 hours.

Highlights: Specializes in PCB routing, without involvement in layout.

Business Model: 1) Free routing for up to 4 boards with fewer than 150 lines, maximum of 4 layers; beyond 4 boards, $9.99 per board. 2) For boards with 151-300 lines, $29.99 per board, maximum of 4 layers. 3) Custom quotes for boards with more than 300 lines or more than 4 layers.

8.CADY (USA): https://cadysolutions.com/

Concept: AI schematic checking tool.

Workflow: Upload schematics, netlists, and BOM files to CADY's cloud, and CADY will output an html format check report.

Highlights: CADY currently provides schematic checking, different from DRC (Design Rule Check), CADY checks schematic issues based on AI's understanding of datasheets rather than rule-based checks.

Business Model: SAAS model, fee unknown.

9.Zuken (Japan): https://www.zuken.com/en/about-zuken/

Concept: AI automatic layout and routing.

Workflow: There is currently no product video on the official website, only some predictions about AI layout and routing by Zuken's product managers.

Highlights: Zuken is a relatively old-fashioned EDA company in Japan, specializing in electrical and electronic design, providing services such as circuit design tools, logic simulation, system post-simulation, production processing, process design, and testing. It is the only EDA company that successfully integrates design and manufacturing.

Business Model: Provides EDA tools and production manufacturing services.

Due to the complexity of electronic circuits, which involve the integration of multiple disciplines, artificial intelligence still has a long way to go in the development of electronic products. The companies mentioned above are actively exploring the application of artificial intelligence technology in electronic design solutions. Although they come from different countries, advocate different technological paths, and have different business models, their goals are the same: to optimize electronic design solutions using artificial intelligence and accelerate the efficiency and quality of design solutions. With the continuous development of artificial intelligence technology, we believe that we will soon usher in the large-scale application of artificial intelligence technology in the field of electronic design and manufacturing.

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