HDL Works

HDL Works


April 2022, HDL Works announces the release and immediate availability of BoardTrace 3.0,
the PCB / FPGA / Processor connectivity visualization and verification tool.

About BoardTrace

BoardTrace is the successor of ConnTrace, the only tool in the world to visualize and verify how components (including FPGAs and now microprocessors) connect to each other on 1 or multiple PCBs. It can handle (rotated) connectors as well as shrouds on (through) a backplane. The PCB connection view shows traces for all signals that can be reached through the connectors. Filters and sorting allow you to concentrate on the potential problems.

What is new in BoardTrace 3.0


Modern microprocessors/microcontrollers have many user configurable IO pins to define the pin functionality. The processor configuration tools can usually generate a CSV file based report file describing the selected configuration. In BoardTrace can you can add a CSV report file as a virtual board and see how the configured processor pins are connected to the board.

This release supports microprocessors from NXP, TI and ST.

Microprocessor dialog
Microprocessor dialog

Netlist reduction

Simple resistors and capacitors in transmission lines make it difficult to view the actual connectivity between main components. With the netlist reduction option you can remove them from the netlist to view/verify the actual connectivity. You can also reduce all parallel capacitors or serial resistors to just 1 to increase performance.

BoardTrace Netlist reduction
Netlist reduction example

Without netlist reduction you would see that pins 1 and 2 of connector P1 connect to the signals 1N18763 and 1N18765 as shown in the connection trace. This makes verification difficult. After netlist reduction you would see them connected to DQS[1]_p and DQS[1]_N and they are easy to verify.

The removal of simple resistors and capacitors allows you improve verification in transmission lines from one board to another when such components are used. Netlist reduction is set for each board separately in the board properties dialog. The number of components removed is shown in the board tooltip. Using the context menu of a board in the PCB view you can open both the original and reduced netlist in the netlist viewer.

Intermediate boards

An intermediate board is a board present in your system to connect sub parts, but which doesn’t have functional names related to your other boards. An example of such a board could be wiring interconnect or a flat cable. When a board is declared to be an intermediate board the signal names on the nets are not used in the verification. This implies that names on intermediate boards are ignored during name matching and cannot be specified in the rules dialog.

Intermediate board
Intermediate board definition

PCB netlists

The ODB++ netlist reader now support compressed components files.

Added fabrication format IPC-D-356. Although quite old it is often present in the Gerber data.

CSV export

Each of the 3 views has a button to export the current view to a RFC-4180 compliant CSV file. The complete view with the visible rows and columns is exported. Cells that contain an icon are translated into the functional name of the icon.

Module verification

Modules are no longer shown in the trace/netlist view. In cases where many modules were used things got too complex (too many schemas needed to be taken into account when creating/processing rules). Modules are shown in the connection details and it is possible to add rules specifically for the connection between the module and its schema.


BoardTrace 3.0 is available now and can be downloaded and evaluated from the company website.

About HDL Works

HDL Works develops and markets high-performance, intuitive tools for complex HDL design across a wide spectrum of applications. Its software products are available on Windows and Linux operating systems. HDL Works currently holds BoardTrace, EASE, HDL Companion and IO Checker in its product portfolio. Headquartered in Ede, The Netherlands, HDL Works is privately held.

HDL Works BV
Keplerlaan 12
6716 BS Ede
The Netherlands

BoardTrace, EASE, HDL Companion, IO Checker and Scriptum are trademarks of HDL Works.

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