Protel PCB Design Software has Rebranded to Altium Designer

Zachariah Peterson
|  Created: November 18, 2020

Protel PCB isn’t gone, it has been rebranded and enhanced as Altium Designer.


The most powerful, modern, and easy-to-use PCB design tool for professional use.

You don’t have to look very hard to find software such as Protel PCB design software or Diptrace still in use. Since the mid-1980s, Protel has been used for PCB design in companies all over the world as well as in universities for teaching circuit design and in homes for the hobbyist. The question that often comes up though is whatever happened to Protel?

The answer is that Protel is still right here and better than ever, although it is now known as Altium Designer 365. As Protel, it made history as one of the first PCB design tools created for the personal computer. As Altium Designer it carries on that advanced legacy by continually pioneering new and innovative tools that specialize in all aspects of the PCB design process. Starting with Protel, Altium has over 30 years of experience in creating cutting-edge design software. Today that PCB file experience has culminated in the best PCB design tools available on the market today, Altium Designer. Now you can sign up for Altium Designer.

A Powerful PCB Design Platform

To give you the power that you need as a PCB designer for today’s challenging designs, Altium Designer has been rebuilt from the ground up. Now structured on a 64-bit multithreading system’s architecture, Altium Designer is ready to put its power to work for you. Altium Designer also features a unified design environment providing commonality between its tools.

With the same data format used throughout the entire design, going in and out of the different tools is simple and straightforward without the need for complicated interfaces and translators. This is very apparent when you work with the advanced schematic editor to create complex hierarchical and multi-channel designs for simulation and layout. From the schematic editor through the PCB editor, Altium Designer has the power you will need.

Altium Designer is Equipped with the System Resources You Need

There’s no need to worry that yesterday’s tools will fall short on today’s designs, Altium Designer has all the strength you need for any of your design challenges.

Unified design environment in Protel PCB

Altium Designer’s unified design environment allows you to easily work between tools

Advanced Place and Route Tools

From the beginning with Protel, Altium has featured strong place and route tools as the core of its PCB design software. Now in Altium Designer, these tools are more advanced than ever before. With smart placement algorithms, you will be able to quickly organize and position your components for the most optimum placement. Interactive PCB routing has never been better with Altium Designer’s intelligent routing tools to help you finish your PCB routing in record time. And with Altium Designer’s native 3D environment, you will be able to quickly verify your component placement to imported mechanical design data to check for clearance to enclosures or other mechanical features. If there is a conflict, you can easily adjust the position of your component placement all while working in 3D. Altium Designer 365 has enhanced and updated its core layout functionality to give you the state-of-the-art tools that you need.

Intelligent Place and Route Tools Complimented by a 3D Environment

This isn’t your father’s Protel anymore, Altium Designer’s layout tools will make your place and route tasks quick and error free.

Active BOM in Protel PCB

Active BOM is just one of the many advanced tools you will find in Altium Designer

Design Utilities Above and Beyond Place and Route

As you know, in today’s world there’s a lot more to PCB design than just schematic capture and circuit board layout. To stay competitive, you need to up-to-date component information, advanced auto routing tools, and automated PCB file creation utilities to name a few of today’s requirements. Altium knows this and has been enhancing its software for years in order to add the tools and functionality that you need into Altium Designer.

Altium Designer comes with Active BOM, a bill of materials management tool that gives you another data portal into your design. With Active BOM you will be able to access component data directly and cross-select those components into the schematic or PCB layout. Active BOM also features a cloud connection with your preferred vendors to give you up-to-date information on pricing, availability, and data on your components.

With Active Route you will be able to create precise manual routing results with the speed of an auto router. Active Route enables you to guide the routing where you want it to go, and then complete the routing for you. Once your routing is finished, Altium Designer is ready to help you again with Draftsman, an automatic manufacturing drawing generator. From component selection to final CAD files, Altium Designer has the tools you need to get the job done.

Altium Designer is Ready to Help You with Advanced Utilities and Functionality

To stay competitive you need more than place and route functionality in your PCB design software, and Altium Designer has what you need.

Protel set the bar high when it became one of the first advanced PCB design tools available for the personal computer. Now Altium Designer continues to move that bar up with each new advancement and enhancement. Come take a look at the design software that has been the bright spot of the industry for the past 30 years; Altium Designer.

About Author

About Author

Zachariah Peterson has an extensive technical background in academia and industry. He currently provides research, design, and marketing services to companies in the electronics industry. Prior to working in the PCB industry, he taught at Portland State University and conducted research on random laser theory, materials, and stability. His background in scientific research spans topics in nanoparticle lasers, electronic and optoelectronic semiconductor devices, environmental sensors, and stochastics. His work has been published in over a dozen peer-reviewed journals and conference proceedings, and he has written 1000+ technical blogs on PCB design for a number of companies. He is a member of IEEE Photonics Society, IEEE Electronics Packaging Society, and the American Physical Society, and he currently serves on the INCITS Quantum Computing Technical Advisory Committee.

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