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  • Proteus Professional Platinum Edition

    (The complete Proteus VSM and PCB suite)

    Proteus Platinum provides the complete Electronic Design Solution for the modern engineer. This product comes complete with everything in the Proteus suite of product including:

    • Professional Schematic Capture module
    • Unlimited Professional PCB Layout module
    • ProSPICE professional simulation engine
    • All Proteus VSM microcotroller families (over 750 processor models).
    • Advanced Simulation Features and Proteus USB Transaction Analyser
    • Shape based Autorouter
    • Over 50,000 library components and footprints

    Proteus 8.6 is the latest interim release of the Proteus Design Suite CAD Software. It includes:

    • Official support for Windows® 10.
    • System wide update to support high dpi monitors.
    • Addition of design rule aware curved tracking in the PCB Layout module.
    • Improved power plane clearance from curved and mitered tracking.
    • Enhanced BOM Reporting and Pick and Place output formats.
    • Various compatibility improvements to DXF output.
    • Completion of the MSP430G2x variants.

    Proteus PCB Design Packages

    Proteus PCB design combines the schematic capture and ARES PCB layout programs to provide a powerful, integrated and easy to use suite of tools for professional PCB Design..

    The products are offered at a number of levels which offer increasing levels of functionality and design capacity:
    All Proteus PCB design products include an integrated shape based autorouter and a basic SPICE simulation capability as standard. More advanced routing modes are included in Proteus PCB Design Level 2 and higher whilst simulation capabilities can be enhanced by purchasing the Advanced Simulation option and/or micro-controller simulationcapabilities.

    "PCB design is our business. We review PCB layout software on an ongoing basis and Labcenter has topped the list for the last 10 years. Certainly the most productive and very, very affordable. We have licences for other very expensive products but they don't get much use."

    Customer Testimonial - Don Alan Pty Ltd

    Product Summary

    Feature Starter Kit Level 1 / 1+ Level 2 / 2+ Level 3
    Professional Schematic Capture module Yes Yes Yes Yes
    Professional PCB Layout module Yes Yes Yes Yes
    Hardware Accelerated Display Technology Yes Yes Yes Yes
    Basic Simulation Yes Yes Yes Yes
    Max. Number of Pins1 In Netlist 500 1000 / 2000 1000 / 2000 Unlimited
    Shape-based Power Planes2 1 Per Layer 1 Per Layer Unlimited Unlimited
    Global Shape Based Autorouting Yes Yes Yes Yes
    External Autorouter Interface3 Yes Yes Yes Yes
    Custom Scripted Autorouting Yes Yes
    Command Driven Interactive Autorouting Yes Yes
    Dynamic Teardrops Yes Yes
    3D Board Visualisation Yes Yes
    ODB++ Manufacturing Output Yes Yes
    Gate-Swap Optimizer Yes Yes
    Board Autoplacement Yes Yes
    1 Pins refers to a physical pin in the netlist. Terminals and vias do not count towards your limit!
    2 In the Starter and Level 1/1+ power planes must cover and entire layer (board edge to edge) and cut-outs are not allowed.
    3 Provides a standard 'design file out / session file in' interface for most common external autorouters.

    Proteus Schematic Capture

    The Proteus schematic capture module lies at the heart of the system, and is far more than just another schematics package. It combines a powerful design environment with the ability to define most aspects of the drawing appearance. Whether your requirement is the rapid entry of complex designs for simulation and PCB layout, or the creation of attractive schematics for publication, Proteus Capture is the tool for the job.

    Use the left hand navigation menu for more information on various features of the capture software.

    Schematic CaptureThe Schematic Capture module in Proteus.

    "We use the Proteus Suite regularly and we really appreciate both the simple user interface and the number of features. When we have faced a limit or a problem, the support response has always been fast and focused. Proteus is a good solution for reasonably complex design."

    - Gael Sallas: ST MicroElectronics

    Purchasing Options

    Proteus schematic capture is a core product and is included with purchase of any and all Proteus VSM and Proteus PCB Design products. Please refer to either the product pricelist or the interactive quotation wizard for pricing and online purchase options.

    Making Connection and Wiring Up

    Placing a wire can be as simple as clicking on the two pins you want to connect - the Wire Auto-Router does the rest. But if you want a wire in a particular place, you can simply click at the intermediate corners. The Wire Auto-Router also operates when components are moved, automatically fixing up the affected wiring.

    Follow-me Routing

    Completing a simple connection with the wire autorouter - visual indicators show when mouse is over the pin end.


    Proteus supports bus wires, terminals, module ports and device pins. This makes it ideal for handling complex microprocessor designs in which some devices may have over 400 physical pins. Tedious editing is avoided by drawing each of the address and data buses as a single pin. Bus terminals and module ports allow bus interconnections between sheets and hierarchy levels to be quickly specified.

    Tapping a bus

    Tapping off a bus onto component pins. An alternative would be to create the component with a single bus pin.

    Hierarchical Design

    As well as supporting normal multi-sheet designs (equivalent to a circuit spread over several pieces of paper), Proteus capture fully supports hierarchy within a design. In other words, a particular component can be defined as a module which is then represented by a further circuit diagram. The hierarchy can be nested to an arbitrary number of levels and modules can be drawn either as standard components or a special sub-circuit blocks on which the interface ports can be placed and removed on the fly.

    Navigate Sheets

    Top Level sub-circuits in a schematic hierarchical design.

    Once you have placed a sub-circuit module and attached port pins to it you can navigate down into the new sheet and place additional circuitry. Connectivity between the child sheet and the parent takes place via the naming of terminals on the child sheet. Any terminal with the same name as a port pin on the parent sub-circuit is deemed to be connected. You can continue in this manner to create a logical hierarchy of arbitrary depth and complexity.

    Navigate Sheets

    Goto Sheet command on a hierarchical schematic design.

    To avoid wiring clutter an option is provided to designate power nets to be global, meaning that you do not need to explicitly define connections up and down the hierarchy for your power lines. You can also manually designate any other net as global if you choose.

    You can easily navigate up and down sub-circuits via the context menu (or keyboard shortcuts) or navigate the entire hierarchy via the goto sheet command. Finally, the design explorer tool provides you with a instant oversight of the schematic, including both a connectivity and a physical view of the current state of play

    Naming and initial annotation options are available on each sheet for clarity and help split larger projects into logical blocks.

    Device Libraries

    Proteus capture comes with pre-supplied libraries for TTL, CMOS, ECL, Microprocessor, Memory and Analogue ICs plus libraries with hundreds of named Bipolar, FET and Diode discrete semiconductors. Also included are manufacturer specific libraries from National Semiconductor, Philips, Motorols, Teccor, Texas Instruments, Dallas and Zetex amongst others - an expanding total, currently over 10,000 parts.

    Importing Components from BSDL

    Direct import of BSDL (Boundary Scan Description Library) files provides a semi-automatic way to quickly create and package larger components.

    Libraries provided with Proteus also contain default properties for PCB packaging and/or simulator models. Both homogenous and heterogeneous multi-element devices are supported so you can place a relay's coil and contacts on separate parts of the drawing. Connector pins can also be distributed. Device editing is performed directly on the drawing using the general editing tools. Devices may be constructed from lines, boxes, circles, arcs, text and special pin objects. Non-electrical symbols may also be created for use in small mechanical or block diagrams.

    A summary listing of included embedded peripheral libraries can be found here.

    Pick Devices dialogue form.

    Pick Devices dialogue form with category and sub-category filtered to Schottky diodes.

    Packaging Tool

    Matching schematic and PCB library parts is greatly simplified by the packaging tool. This tool provides a graphical environment in which to assign one or more PCB footprints to a schematic part. For each PCB package, a table mapping pin numbers to pin names is created such that different packagings can have different pin numbers for the same schematic pin.The packaging tool also facilitates the entry of different pin numbers for each element in a multi-element part, and each bit of a bus pin.

    Schematic Capture

    Assigning footprint pads to schematic pins via the Visual Packaging Tool.

    Project Clips / Design Snippets

    Project Clips / Design Snippets

    Project clips (or snippets) provide a formal way to reuse parts of an existing project in future work. The basic idea is simple; select an area of schematic and/or an area of layout and then export them to disk for import into future project.

    You can create schematic only project clips or, more commonly, the project clip will contain both the schematic design and the corresponding pcb layout. When you bring the project clip into a different project and place the schematic the associated pcb clip will be ready for placement as a single unit with the correct annotation. Over time, you can build your own library of useful pieces that can then be re-used in future work.

    Project Clips in Proteus.

    Project Clips in Proteus.

    Bill of Materials

    BOM Tutorial Movie

    The Bill of Materials in Proteus 8 operates in its own application window with a WYSIWYG view of the report. Changes to the schematic and/or formatting are reflected immediately and an integrated header/footer editor is also provided.

    Further more, component properties can be added/removed or edited from within the BOM window. Any changes are automatically back-annotated onto the schematic. This is, of course, the most natural place to add stock/order codes, component costs and so forth.

    The final output can be to print, Excel or PDF as you wish.

    Bill of Materials

    Bill of Materials in a separate window.

    Design Explorer

    The Design Explorer is a unique tool in Proteus which provides a windows style user interface to allow you to both navigate and inspect your schematic at any stage in the design process. It includes the ability not only to interrogate the current state of the schematic to verify connectivity, packagings etc. but also to navigate to items of interest on both the schematic and the PCB (cross-probing to a PCB footprint or a net in the layout package).

    The Design Explorer can show you information about the schematic in two ways:

    Partslist View

    This view provides a physical representation of the schematic, showing you sheets, hierarchies, components and component pins. You can navigate both across a design (if, for example you have a multi-sheet design with more than one root sheet) and down a design (moving through a design hierarchy or drilling down from a component to look at a listing of the component pins).

    Partlist View of the Design Explorer

    Partlist View of the Design Explorer showing the various root sheets of the design on the left and the components on the currently selected sheet on the right.

    Netlist View

    This view provides a representation of the connectivity of the schematic, showing you a listing of all the nets on the schematic and all the pins connected to the selected net.

    Netlist View of the Design Explorer

    Netlist View of the Design Explorer showing the various nets of the design on the left and the components on the currently selected net (GND) on the right.

    You can also use the design explorer to navigate directly to items of interest on either the schematic or the corresponding ARES layout (cross probing). This is as simple as right clicking on the item in the design explorer and selecting the appropriate navigation option from the resulting context menu.

    Schematic Net Navigation

    Schematic Net Navigation

    PCB Net Navigation

    PCB Net Navigation

    Schematic Part Navigation

    Schematic Part Navigation

    ARES PCB Layout Software

    Our high performance netlist based PCB design package perfectly complements our powerful schematic capturesoftware and features both automatic component placement and a truly world class shape based auto-router.

    Use the left hand navigation menu for more information on various features of the ARES PCB software or click on the movie on the right for a quick end-to-end overview.

    ARES PCB Layout

    The ARES PCB Layout module in Proteus.

    Purchasing Options

    All Proteus PCB Design solutions include both the Schematic Capture package and the PCB layout package. Cost is dependant on both the required design capacity and the required feature set.

    An overview of available solutions can be found here, whilst the associated pricelist is here. Feel free tocontact us should you wish more information or to further discuss requirements.

    "PCB Design is our business. We review PCB Layout software on an ongoing basis and Labcenter has topped the list for the last 10 years. Certainly the most productive and very,very affordable. We have licences for other very expensive products but they don't get much use.."

    Donald Kay: Don Alan Pty

    Footprint Libraries

    Importing PADS ASCII Footprints

    The supplied libraries cover a large range of through hole components including all the most common IC, transistor, diode and connector packaging types. We also supply as standard the full IEC libraries and SMT footprints which include all the standard discrete and IC packaging styles.

    Both the IPC-782 and the IPC-7351 standard surface mount standard libraries are included. If required, new packages can easily be created directly on the drawing whilst ARES also supports general 2D drafting features. A direct import tool for PADS ASCII Layout format allows footprints to be brought in from popular tools such as PCB Library Expert.

    Padstack dialog form in ARES

    The Padstack form allows you to set pads sizes on individal layers.

    In a typical project the schematic components will already be packaged with one or more footprints and these parts will automatically then be selected into the parts bin for placement on the board.

    Templates and Technology Data

    ARES Menu for configuring technology data.

    ARES Technology Menu.

    ARES includes a comprehensive scheme for design re-use in the form of board templates and technology data. A user can create several templates representing common projects and then initialise new layouts from template to preload all of the configured information. A default set of common eurocard boards are provided as standard.

    A template file is essentially a basic layout (board edge, mounting holes, etc.) together with a technology data set. This data includes design rules, net classes, layer usage, grids, units and board properties and can be applied to other layouts directly as well as when a new project is initialised from the template.

    New Project Wizard Template Selection.

    PCB template selection when creating a new Proteus project.

    Manual Routing & Editing

    Follow Me Manual Routing

    Manual routing makes no requirement that you start from the ratsnest lines (rubberbanding). You can place tracking in any way you wish and ARES will remove ratsnest lines as the connections are actually completed.

    During track placement the route will follow the mouse wherever possible and will intelligently move around obstacles while obeying the design rules for the project.

    When editing routes you can re-route or delete any section of a track, irrespective of how it was originally placed. Commands are also provided to change the thickness and/or layer of any section of tracking.

    Track operations

    Track operations

    Track selection configuration

    Track selection configuration

    If thick tracks are laid between obstacles such as IC pads, ARES will automatically 'neck' in order to maintain the current design rules.

    Curved tracks can be laid down simply by pressing the CTRL key and marking the route with the mouse.

    Tracks can be easily edited and repositioned as required.

    Tracks can be easily edited and repositioned as required.

    Shape Based Autorouting

    Shape Based Auto-routing

    Proteus includes a world class integrated shape based autorouter as standard with all professional purchases. The router uses advanced cost-based conflict reduction algorithms proven to maximise completion rates on even the most densely packed boards.

    For total control of the routing process, users with the advanced feature set (PCB Design Level 2 and higher) can also drive the router either by writing custom routing scripts or by directly entering routing commands interactively. This provides many additional features such as the ability to route only particular areas or net classes and also additional flexibility such as the ability to specify the fanout direction or length.

    More information on the autorouter can be found here

    ARES Shape Based Autorouter

    The Proteus Shape Based Autorouter showing pre and post routing around an BGA footprint.

    Power Planes

    ARES features the ultimate in power plane support - user placeable polygonal regions within which inner boundaries are automatically created around existing pads and tracking. Change the pads and tracking and the boundaries are recomputed to maintain design rule clearances. Thermal reliefs are supported and you can choose whether to hatch or fill each polygon. Inner zones(nested zones) can be included and/or islands of unconnected copper suppressed. All computation is based on grid-less shape geometry and occurs in the background so that there is no interference in manual board placement for computationally intensive layouts.

    Close up of two ARES zones with the same board.

    Close up of two ARES zones with the same board. The top-left shows a hatched zone with thermally relieved connections whilst the lower-right shows a solid zone with solid, unrelieved, connections.

    Dynamic Teardrops

    Teardrops are often used at the connection point between track and pad to prevent drill breakout during board manufacture. Proteus PCB Design includes comprehensive support for teardrops. When enabled, teardrops connections will be made to all qualifying routes. They are then automatically generated, updated and removed as you place, edit and delete routes during board layout.


    Teardrop configuration.

    Setting up teardrops.

    A global configuration dialogue turns teardrops on or off and also allows the addition of teardrops to undrilled pads. The two main configuration parameters are then:

    Annular Ring Size

    This gates the use of teardrops based on annular ring size, allowing the user to decide at which point they feel that the annular ring (copper from drill hole to pad edge) is small enough to warrant the added protection of the teardrop.

    Teardrop Length

    This determines the length of the teardrop back into the connecting track. Teardrop copper is fully integrated into the design rules and teardrops are suppressed automatically where their creation would violate a board constraint.

    You can also edit any pin on the layout and manually override the global settings. This allows you to indivually enable/disable teardrops only where required.

    Teardrops on via connections.

    Teardrops on via connections.

    Design / Connectivity Rule Checking

    During manual routing, ARES checks each track as you place it and warns you if any design rules (physical/electrical) are broken. You can fully customise the board constraints, setting rules by layer and/or by strategy or even creating rules governing behaviour between strategies on the board.

    A live indication of both the connectivity and the design rule status of the board is provided on the status bar at the bottom of ARES. Clicking on either produces a report listing any missing or extra connections - double click on any entry in the list, and ARES will zoom in to show you exactly where the error is located on the PCB.

    Design Rule Manager

    Configuration of board constraints for the Signal net class in the Design Rule Manager.

    Finally, the Pre-production check runs prior to manufacturing output and is designed to be an automated quality assurance check. In addition to testing connectivity and design rules it tests zone placement and integrity through a completely seperate code path and runs seperate tests for common design mistakes.

    Project Notes

    Project Notes Tutorial Movie

    Project Notes is an application module in Proteus for adding documentation or written content to the project. It is a free-form editor so you can add whatever you like in whatever style you want. This may be as simple as scribbling a TBD list at the end of the working day or as formal as an approved revision history for the project. Project Notes are stored inside the main Proteus file (*.PDSPRJ) but can be printed separately or exported to PDF. They can also be appended to the end of the BOM PDF report or included inside the CADCAM ZIP file.

    The template system in Project Notes allows you to create, save and re-use formatted content and we have included some example templates for things like Engineering Change Orders, PCB Specifications and Lab Exercises that might prove useful.

    In keeping with the other modules in Proteus, you can use Project Notes to interact with the rest of the system. For example, you can link text to real parts on the schematic or layout so that clicking on the link will navigate to the part in your design or PCB. You can also use fieldcodes to bring in design information such as Author or Revision Number and the internal clipboard makes it easy to copy and paste pictures from other Proteus modules into Project Notes.

    Project Notes is the generic documentation center for your projects and we expect it will find many useful roles for different users.

    Project Notes in Proteus.

    Project Notes in Proteus.

    3D Visualisation

    3D Visualization Movie

    The 3D Visualisation Tool (3D Viewer) in ARES provides a way to extrude a layout and view the board as it would appear in real life. This is extremely useful as a design aid during board layout. Navigation, both orbital and 'fly by' is extremely intuitive and mouse controlled. The user can also specify a 'height plane' corresponding to the board chassis which will appear as a semi-transparent box around the board, allowing for a quick visual check for protrusions.

    3D Visualisation of the XGS Gamestation Board.

    3D Visualisation of the XGS Gamestation PCB Layout.

    ARES libraries come supplied with 3D footprints and comprehensive support for creating custom 3D footprints directly inside ARES or by importing models via the standard *.3ds file format. Files can be exported in this format from the majority of commercial MCAD packages as well as from several free software tools - notably Blender.

    Direct output from the 3D Viewer includes the open source 3ds standard, 3D DXF and STL. IDF output is available from the output menu in the layout editor.

    MCAD Output

    STEP/IGES Movie

    ISO 10303 is an ISO standard for the computer-interpretable representation and exchange of product manufacturing information. It is known informally as STEP, which stands for Standard for the Exchange of Product model data. ISO 10303 can represent 3D objects in Computer-aided design (CAD) and related information.

    Proteus uses this format to import 3D models for footprints and also to export 3D representations of PCB boards to Mechanical CAD products. Both relevant Application Protocols (AP-203 and AP-214) are supported.

    3D Visualisation of the XGS Gamestation Board.

    MCAD export from Proteus and imported in to SolidWorks.

    The popularity of STEP as a data exchange format means that STEP models for footprints are widely available on the internet. Many manufacturers provide STEP models for their parts and there are several dedicated sites with many thousands of freely available models.

    In addition, the popular PCB Library Expert tool will not only allow you to quickly create library parts but can also create STEP files for your library parts. Both the 2D footprint and the 3D STEP file can then be imported into Proteus.

    Proteus also allows you to create your own model if you do not have a STEP/IGES mode or a 3DS model. Simply give it a body type, a colour and some dimensions and you can have a 3D model that resembles the physical device. Nearly every device can be replicated as a geometric model. The Geometric models will be exported in the MCAD file in STEP/IGES format.

    3D Visualisation of the XGS Gamestation Board.

    Geometric model in Proteus.

    When the 2D PCB Layout is complete, Proteus can export a single STEP assembly comprising the board edge, holes on the board, the PCB parts on the board and optionally the silkscreen definitions as well. This assembly is typically then loaded into an MCAD tool for case design and fitting.

    STEP models for parts can either be imported or created using the simple Proteus 3D modelling language along with it's live preview.

    STEP Files exported from Proteus will import into almost any professional MCAD software package. Indeed, such is the popularity of STEP that most tools will import from a single command on the file menu.

    Proteus includes component data as standard in the STEP file output so you will find object browsing and identification straightforward in the receiving software package.

    Export/Output Formats

    Valor ODB++ Manufacturing Output

    Valor ODB++ Manufacturing Output.

    As well as supporting the basic ability to output your PCB to standard windows printers, ARES provides an optimized HPGL driver for pen plotters, and a full set of features for professional board manufacturing.

    ODB++ is the primary supported manufacturing output format. ODB++ is the most intelligent CAD/CAM data exchange format available today, capturing all CAD/EDA, assembly and PCB fabrication knowledge in one single, unified database. Valor (the creators of the ODB++ format) produce a free ODB++ Viewer, allowing you to inspect your output before sending to manufacture.

    Traditional Gerber output is supported in the RS274X formats whilst a standard excellon format file is produced for drilling machines. In addition, an ASCII file listing component positions and orientations is produced for use with Pick and Place machinery.

    Panelization Movie

    Labcenter provide an integrated gerber viewer is also provided, allowing you to check that Gerber files contain the expected data, and to panelise boards prior to issuing them for manufacture.

    Finally, you can output via STEP or IGES and load into MCAD software such as Solidworks.

    The VSM Advantage

    The Proteus Design Suite is wholly unique in offering the ability to co-simulate both high and low-level micro-controller code in the context of a mixed-mode SPICE circuit simulation. With this Virtual System Modelling facility, you can transform your product design cycle, reaping huge rewards in terms of reduced time to market and lower costs of development.

    If one person designs both the hardware and the software then that person benefits as the hardware design may be changed just as easily as the software design. In larger organisations where the two roles are separated, the software designers can begin work as soon as the schematic is completed; there is no need for them to wait until a physical prototype exists.

    In short, Proteus VSM improves efficiency, quality and flexibility throughout the design process..

    The VSM Advantage

    What is Proteus VSM?

    Proteus Virtual System Modelling (VSM) combines mixed mode SPICE circuit simulation, animated components and microprocessor models to facilitate co-simulation of complete microcontroller based designs. For the first time ever, it is possible to develop and test such designs before a physical prototype is constructed.

    This is possible because you can interact with the design using on screen indicators such as LED and LCD displays and actuators such as switches and buttons. The simulation takes place in real time (or near enough to it): a 1GMHz Pentium III can simulate a basic 8051 system clocking at over 12MHz. Proteus VSM also provides extensive debugging facilities including breakpoints, single stepping and variable display for both assembly code and high level language source.

    Screen shot of the schematic editor

    Screen shot of the schematic editor showing a fully functional virtual representation of the Microchip™ PICDEM2+ Evaluation Board, containing PIC18F452,Alpha LCD, TC74 temp sensor, 24LC256 I2C EEPROM, RS232 terminal and various buttons, pots, LED's etc.

    Schematic Entry

    Proteus VSM uses our proven Schematic Capture software to provide the environment for design entry and development. Proteus capture is a long established product and combines ease of use with powerful editing tools. It is capable of supporting schematic capture for both simulation and PCB design. Designs entered in to Proteus VSM for testing can be netlisted for PCB layout either with our own PCB Design products or with third party PCB layout tools. The Proteus schematic capture module also provides a very high degree of control over the drawing appearance, in terms of line widths, fill styles, fonts, etc. These capabilities are used to the full in providing the graphics necessary for circuit animation.

    Circuit Simulation

    At the heart of Proteus VSM is ProSPICE. This is an established product that combines uses a SPICE3f5 analogue simulator kernel with a fast event-driven digital simulator to provide seamless mixed-mode simulation. The use of a SPICE kernel lets you utilise any of the numerous manufacturer-supplied SPICE models now available and around 6000 of these are included with the package.

    I2C Protocol Analyzer in Master Mode

    Proteus VSM includes a number of virtual instruments including an OscilloscopeLogic AnalyserFunction GeneratorPattern GeneratorCounter Timer and Virtual Terminal as well as simple voltmeters and ammeters. In addition, we provide dedicated Master/Slave/Monitor mode protocol analysers for SPI and I2C - simply wire them onto the serial lines and monitor or interact with the data live during simulation. A truly invaluable (and inexpensive!) way to get your communication software right prior to hardware prototyping.

    Should you wish to take detailed measurements on graphs, or perform other analysis types such as frequency, distortion, noise or sweep analyses of analogue circuits, you can purchase the Advanced Simulation Option. This option also includes Conformance Analysis - a unique and powerful tool for Software Quality Assurance.

    Co-Simulation of Microcontroller Software

    Proteus VSM - Getting Started

    The most exciting and important feature of Proteus VSM is its ability to simulate the interaction between software running on a microcontroller and any analog or digital electronics connected to it.

    The micro-controller model sits on the schematic along with the other elements of your product design. It simulates the execution of your object code (machine code), just like a real chip. If the program code writes to a port, the logic levels in circuit change accordingly, and if the circuit changes the state of the processor's pins, this will be seen by your program code, just as in real life.

    The VSM CPU models fully simulate I/O ports, interrupts, timers, USARTs and all other peripherals present on each supported processor. It is anything but a simple software simulator since the interaction of all these peripherals with the external circuit is fully modelled down to waveform level and the entire system is therefore simulated.

    VSM can even simulate designs containing multiple CPUs, since it is a simple enough matter to place two or more processors on a schematic and wire them together.

    Source Level Debugging

    Breakpoints & Single Stepping

    Whilst Proteus VSM is already unique in its capabililty to run near real time simulations of complete micro-controller systems, its real power comes from its ability to perform these simulations in single step mode. This works just like your favourite software debugger, except that as you single step the code, you can observe the effect on the entire design - including all the electronics external to the microcontroller.

    VSM achieves this in a number of ways, dependent on the processor family and the compiler/toolchain that you prefer to use. For detailed information on the third party compilers supported by Proteus VSM please see theThird Party Compilers page.

    Hardware Breakpoints

    In addition to traditional debugging where you set one or breakpoints in your source and then step the code when they are triggered, Proteus allows you to set breakpoints on the schematic so that a hardware condition can trigger a breakpoint. Whenever it is the case that a problem is identifiable on the hardware using hardware breakpoints is ideal to track down the issue. For example, if malformed characters were appearing on the LCD display setting a hardware breakpoint on the busy line would be a good place to start investigating.

    The Watch Window

    The other major tool at your disposal for single step debugging is the watch window. This allows register and/or address monitoring and also allows you to add variables from the variables window for inspection. You can set breakpoints on a logical condition of any item added to the watchwindow making it easy for example to trap a timer overflow.

    Diagnostic Messaging

    Proteus is equipped with comprehensive diagnostic or trace messaging. This allows you to specify which components or processor peripherals that are of interest at any given time and receive detailed textual reporting of all activity and system interaction. This is invaluable as a debugging aid, allowing you to locate and fix problems in both software and hardware much faster than you could when working on a physical prototype.

    Diagnostic Setup and Simulation Advisor

    Diagnostic Setup and Simulation Advisor showing trace messages from the Alphanumeric LCD Display model

    Peripheral Model Libraries

    In addition to the microprocessor models for each supported family, and literally thousands of 'standard' models for passives, TTL/CMOS, memories, etc. Proteus VSM is equipped with a comprehensive library of embedded peripheral models, from alphanumeric and graphical LCD displays, through DC, BLCD and servo motors to ethernet controller chips. A summary listing of the peripheral models included with Proteus can be found here.

    Whilst we believe Proteus VSM is functionally so far ahead of any other product that it really has no competition, you may also want to look at our competitive analysis to compare features against other offerings on the market or read some existing customer comments.

    Why Use Proteus VSM ?

    Proteus VSM was the first product to bridge the gap between schematic and PCB for embedded design, offering system level simulation of microcontroller based designs inside the schematic package itself.

    Over ten years later, Proteus VSM is still leading the field with more microcontroller variants and peripherals than any competing product, better debugging tools and instruments and a consistent focus on innovation.

    This page outlines some of the benefits to using Proteus VSM as an embedded prototyping tool in your workflow.


    Key Points

    • » An Experimental Canvas for Design
    • » Write Firmware for Virtual Hardware
    • » Change Either Quickly and Easily
    • » Freedom to Create, Test and Perfect

    Proteus VSM provides a unique development platform for the embedded engineer. It allows you to specify a program (HEX file, COF File, ELF/DWARF2 File, UBROF File etc) as a property of the microcontroller part on the schematic and during simulation will show you the effects of the program on the schematic you have created.

    You can change your 'hardware' by rewiring the schematic, changing component values for resistors, capacitors etc. and deleting or adding new components to the design. You can change your firmware in the IDE of your choice and, once compiled, test the new code on the new system at the press of a button.

    This gives you total freedom to experiment with different ideas and to find the optimal design solution for his project. The schematic serves as a 'virtual prototpye' for the firmware and it's quick and easy to make changes to either.


    Key Points

    • » Faster Bug Fixes
    • » Fewer Design Iterations
    • » Enables Parallel Development
    • » Shorter Time to Market

    Typically, engineers spend as much time finding and fixing problems and testing projects as they do in creating them in the first place. This is an area where Proteus VSM excels.

    When you set a breakpoint in your code the entire system stops when that line of code is reached. When you then single step the entire system will advance, showing you the effects of the execution of that line of code on your schematic (virtual prototype). This makes it easier to work out where a particular problem lies and whether the software design or hardware design is at fault.

    Since the schematic is serving as the hardware it is perfectly possible to divide tasks and for one person to develop the PCB layout whilst another uses the schematic as the basis for writing, testing and debugging the firmware. This means that when the physical prototype finally arrives from the manufacturer the firmware has already been completed and tested.

    Since the system has been debugged and tested in software it will require fewer physical design iterations and the product will therefore be market ready sooner.


    Key Points

    • » Reduced Development Time
    • » Reduced Debugging/Testing Time
    • » Reduced Manufacturing Delays
    • » Reduced Equipment Costs
    • » Reasonable Cost of Ownership

    As discussed above, Proteus VSM will save time and effort during the design phase and in the testing/debugging phase. Both of these translate into cost savings for a project and these savings multiply with each additional project undertaken.

    The ability to use the schematic in Proteus as a virtual prototype for firmware design and debugging improves the quality of the physical prototype. Less design iterations mean less delays at manufacturing and indeed lower manufacturing costs.

    Proteus comes equipped with a rich suite of instrumentation and analysis tools, from DSO to Logic Analyser to I2C and SPI Protocol Analysers. This makes it a mobile electronic workbench and reduces the need for expensive physical equipment.

    The purchase cost of Proteus VSM is itself extremely competitive and Labcenter are committed to maintaining the highest levels of price/performance.

    More Information:

    The Proteus VSM Concept

    Proteus Virtual System Modelling (VSM) combines mixed mode SPICE circuit simulation, animated components and microprocessor models to facilitate co-simulation of complete microcontroller based designs. For the first time ever, it is possible to develop and test such designs before a physical prototype is constructed. A full exposition of the Proteus VSM technology and features can be found here.

    Whilst we believe Proteus VSM is functionally so far ahead of any other product that it really has no competition, you may also want to look at our competitive analysis to compare features against other offerings on the market or read some existing customer comments.

    Proteus VSM Screenshot Proteus VSM Screenshot Proteus VSM Screenshot Proteus VSM Screenshot Proteus VSM Screenshot Proteus VSM Screenshot Proteus VSM Screenshot Proteus VSM Screenshot

    This screenshot shows Proteus VSM simulating a floating point calculator. Hover the mouse over the various components and windows to see more information.

    How Is This Useful Educationally?

    In addition to providing high quality Schematic Capture and PCB Layout for traditional computer aided design Proteus VSM is uniquely suited to teaching students about the design and operation of embedded systems solutions. For the first time a full virtual debugging interface is available in software, obviating the need for expensive hardware and allowing your students the freedom and flexibility to design and develop microcontroller solutions without the need for a physical prototype.

    The following is a comparison of Proteus VSM against a typical microprocessor hardware lab equipped with evaluation boards and In Circuit Emulators..

    Hardware Lab Proteus VSM Lab

    Installation of hardware equipment typically requires a dedicated lab.

    Proteus VSM can be installed in general purpose computer rooms anywhere on campus.

    Equipping a hardware lab with In Circuit Emulators is expensive.

    Site Licences of Proteus VSM are significantly discounted for educational use.

    Test instruments such as oscilloscopes, logic analysers and pattern generators add further expense.

    Proteus VSM includes 11 virtual instruments as standard.

    The number of users is limited to the amount of physical hardware purchased.

    Unlimited site licences of Proteus VSM have no upper limit on the number of users.

    Reworking or modifying hardware circuitry can be tedious and prone to errors.

    Circuit design in Proteus VSM is both simple and flexible, allowing students to experiment easily and quickly.

    Student error can result in blown hardware components and additional expense.

    Proteus VSM is totally safe and virtual components are indestructible!

    Students are limited to working on the equipment within the lab.

    All site licences include a version for distribution to students.

    Students must wire up hardware in the lab before attempting software tasks.

    Circuits for lab exercises can be prepared in advance.

    Evaluation and Pricing

    If you have any queries about the features mentioned above or wish to discuss the suitability of Proteus VSM for your course please feel free to contact us. Our support staff all develop on the Proteus software suite and we'll be happy to answer any questions you may have, discuss requirements with you or provide a quotation for the software.

    "The whole Proteus suite has been invaluable to us in delivering our advanced BTEC Electronic Courses. The processor simulation is excellent and very easy to implement."

    - Alan Duffy - Sutton Coldfield College

    "Thanks for your support and a great product. This years new advanced students have just finished their first project design using Proteus. They enjoyed it and I appreciated the easy interface which allowed my students to learn the techniques and processes far faster with reliable results."

    - Customer Testimonial

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