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I have been using EAGLE for some years. The boards I have designed had the following specs:

  • up to 4 layers
  • 6mil spacing
  • densest package: QFN, 0.4mm pitch
  • only "ordinary" vias
  • mainly (low frequency) digital domain (CAN, IO, ...)

The new project has this specs:

  • up to 10 (or even 12) layers
  • densest package: 337-ball BGA (ARM-Cortext-R5)
  • potentially blind and/or buried vias

My concern is: Is EAGLE sufficient for the new project? Or should I consider to switch to a more "advanced" PCB design tool, like Altium designer, Mentor Graphics Pads or Cadence Allegro?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm a newbie for Eagle, but Altium is main ECAD i'm dealing with. It's convenient for high frequency applications - there is a bunch of tools such as Signal Integrity, xSignal which allows you to simulate tricky places of the schema. Also i've found Altium's PCB Editor much more powerful and easier than PCAD, Eagle or Diptrace (just ImHO). \$\endgroup\$ – Looongcat Sep 11 '15 at 11:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ It is sufficient in terms of being able to draw it. But it will be extremely annoying. First thing that comes into mind is dynamic DRC. Well-behaved tool will not shove a via into traces on other layers if you do not want to. \$\endgroup\$ – venny Sep 11 '15 at 11:06
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I would switch, however I only know Eagle up to Version 6 and don't know how much V7 improved upon that.

I only know Altium from the other tools you mentioned, but I am far more confident with my designs, because I have far better control about what I want to achieve.

Some features that could be of use to you:

  • Define power planes and use impedance matching capabilities
  • Specify restrictions what signals to route on what layer
  • Review your Layout in 3D - what you see is what you get
  • Much better routing tools than Eagle

From what I can tell it is just a far superior tool (with superior pricing) in every way. However, it takes some time/practice to use it efficiently. In the beginning I was swearing a lot ;)

Doing a 10 layer design with 337-ball BGA and buried vias is a level where you probably will find Eagle very cumbersome to use.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for your answer. There isn't much improved in V7 that addresses 10 layers, BGA and buried vias. \$\endgroup\$ – sergej Sep 11 '15 at 11:40

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