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Enterprise Data eXchange (EDX) Established to Ensure Safe, Secure Data Sharing Between PCB Design Teams and the Enterprise

Mar 27, 2013

The Enterprise Data eXchange (or EDX) Solutions Alliance was established today to provide an open industry forum for the broad adoption of its new standard, EDX. EDX is a new and robust data format created to capture PCB-related IP in a standard form for safe and secure data-sharing with enterprise systems and remote third parties. Managing and maintaining data integrity with today’s increasing PCB design complexity, and securing and avoiding file corruption, has become a paramount concern as data is shared with groups requiring access to this IP. The current interfaces to move or share this data are ad-hoc and often tied to specific EDA software versions, which creates cross-dependencies between applications of independent companies and often requires costly adaptations or customizations.

Thus, the EDX format was established to protect the integrity of all product data and the native design data, as well as their relationships, enabling secure exchange of the data at any point in time of the product life cycle. By representing the data in a consistent EDX format - independent of any of the tools used to create it or to read it—version-independent system interfaces can be easily established. As design tools continue to advance, the EDX structure remains consistent and intact; only content of the native files change but not the interfaces to share the data. This provides companies with the flexibility to upgrade their PCB design flow independently from existing interfaces to both third-party and enterprise tools.

This has been a consistent issue for PLM systems where each release of the PLM product typically has an interface tied to a specific version of the EDA tools. PTC has already evaluated EDX and recognizes this as an important benefit. “PTC is currently working on EDX-based integrations between PTC Windchill and the Mentor Graphics ECAD suite, including their Expedition Enterprise, Data Management System, and DxDesigner products. This will enable library and design data sharing via EDX, including process support for New Part Requests and Electronic Change Orders (ECOs),” stated Graham Birch, director of Windchill product management at PTC. “With EDX as a common data format, the ECAD interface will no longer be dependent on the design flow version, enabling our customers to maintain their design tools more independently from the Windchill tools and simplifying the integration maintenance for our customers.

EDX is an XML-in-ZIP format which uses a combination of Open Packaging Convention containers to hold the data files, manifest files to organize the content, and the latest digital signature technology for secure, reliable data exchange and archiving. All data types associated with the PCB design are supported (native design data, library data, related component data, BOMs, manufacturing files, ODB++ as the product model, and viewable files such as PDF and EDIF). EDX also provides the flexibility to incorporate any additional data object that the designers may want to include such as functional specs, test results, spec control drawings for library parts, etc.

Mentor Graphics also supports EDX from its Expedition® Enterprise EDA design flow. “EDX provides a single package, from native design and library data, to all of the derived outputs required for downstream processes,” stated Dan Boncella, director of marketing, Mentor Graphics System Design Division. “By placing all of the data required in a single package and signing it for security to mitigate the risk of incomplete or inconsistent instructions, EDX is the ideal solution for handing off data to design partners and contract manufacturers.”

The EDX Solutions Alliance is an industry consortium to drive the broad adoption of the EDX standard. Members currently include: Agilent Technologies, Autodesk, Class Technologies Co., Ltd., Mentor Graphics, Omnify Software, Perception Software, and PTC.  Membership to the EDX Solutions Alliance is free and is highly encouraged for those interested in creating stronger, consistent interfaces between their PCB design flow and their enterprise tools.

Additional information about EDX and the partners actively adopting the format can be found on the EDX Solutions Alliance website. The site provides more information on EDX, its typical use cases, the format specification itself, as well as some starter tools for developing EDX-based interfaces.

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