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Jitx wants to change the way engineers design circuit boards using code • Technology Flow

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Electrical engineers have been designing custom circuit boards in computers for years, but the process has moved from the paper-and-pencil method to digital. It didn’t advance the craft or make it easier for engineers to reuse design elements in designs. Although they can apply the learnings they have gathered along the way, they always have to start from scratch.

Jitx, a startup from three Berkeley alumni, recognized that the digital approach to board design hadn’t changed much, and they saw an opening. They created a new way of designing boards using code to describe what the board would look like. Today the company announced the general availability of that product and a previously unannounced $12 million Series A.

“Today’s engineers use a lot of graphical tools to create schematics and circuit boards manually, and that’s no longer productive enough. There is a lot of design work. Systems are too complex to design them without errors. So Jitx is changing that by allowing engineers to write code to build their designs, and bringing the benefits of software to hardware design,” co-founder and CEO Duncan Haldane told Technology Flow.

This has many benefits, he says, including reusability, increased productivity, a simple and automated review process, and the ability to share and collaborate on designs in meaningful ways.

The company came up with a coding language, which Haldane says is about electrical engineers and how they work.

“We made a programming language and compiler for electrical engineers. So basically an electrical engineer thinks about problems in a certain way – I have to design this IoT device. I must have this radio. I wish it would last five years with this type of battery. And I need this microcontroller — and we’ve provided a language to express them, so you can start at a really high level, and then the compiler starts filling in the details for you,” he said.

Now, he says, Python scripts are written to test board designs, a language that engineers need to understand.

A Jitx coding screen where engineers describe what a circuit board looks like in code.

A Jitx coding screen where engineers describe what a circuit board looks like with code. Image Credits: Jitx

The other important thing Jitx does is make it easy to test a design to make sure it’s correct. Today it’s all about blindfolding and getting a few people together to critique it to make sure it works. Jitx wants to bring automation to the design review process to automatically test the design and move it to production more quickly.

The roots of the idea go back to work Haldane was doing as a grad student in 2013. As the idea of ​​code-based circuit design grew, he connected with his co-founders and launched the company in 2017.

A circuit board made of Jitx.

Jitx built this silicon validation board with 2,0500 pins on a complex 300um grid. Image Credits: Jitx

The startup began as a design consultancy helping companies create circuit boards, but they found this way to bring more automation to the design process and began building the solution they have today for themselves before turning it into a product.

The company currently has 18 employees. Growing a diverse workforce is challenging, especially in a field that requires highly specialized skills, but the company is working on it and looking at ways to find candidates from historically underrepresented groups, he said. “The way we address inclusion is that you have to work really hard at sourcing people. You’re not hiring someone because they’re different, but you have to work harder to find them because they’re underrepresented,” he said.

The $12 million investment closed last year. It was led by Sequoia Capital in partnership with Y Combinator, Funders Club and Liquid2. Company Y is a member of the Combinator Summer 2018 cohort and is one of 10 startups covering Demo Day for Technology Flow reporters.

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