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Frequently Asked Questions: Getting to Know Electric

What is Electric?

Electric is a computer-aided design system for electrical circuits. It is primarily intended for integrated-circuit layout, but it also handles schematics and even textual hardware description languages.

Electric understands a number of different technologies (environments of design) including MOS (nMOS and many flavors of CMOS), bipolar, and hybrid layout. Besides these IC layout technologies, it is able to work with many other graphical forms, including schematics, artwork, FPGA architectures, and more. A built-in technology editor allows the modification and creation of new design environments.

Electric integrates many different tools for the analysis and synthesis of circuitry. The system comes with Design-rule checkers, simulators, routers, and much more. In addition, the system has an elegant model for integrating tools which makes it relatively easy to add new ones.

Besides being able to handle arbitrary technologies and tools, Electric has a powerful front-end that provides layout constraints and platform portability. The constraint system allows connected components to remain sensibly connected, even when the design is modified. The platform portability means that Electric is able to run on nearly any computer (the Java code runs anywhere and the C code compiles on UNIX/LINUX, Windows, and Macintosh).

Electric is free software, and is an official GNU package.

How did it get its name?

Electric was inspired by the Firesign Theatre's album "I Think We're All Bozos On This Bus". When asked about the future, one interviewee states "It's Electric".

There is no relation between this system and the Ed Ruscha painting of the same name (shown here: Electric, 1963, oil on canvas, 72 x 67 inches, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York).