Electronic – Designing a PCB layout without having a schematic diagram (or netlist)


Could you please let me know if it's possible to design a PCB layout without a schematic diagram?

I outsourced the development and manufacturing of the ARM board which has 512MB DDR3 RAM and 4GB eMMC. The outsourcing company promised to make it in 45 days, but they didn't give me the product even it's already more than 100 days from beginning of the project. When they said they were manufacturing its PCB last month, I asked them to send its schematic diagram. But the answer was that they didn't finalise the schematic diagram and need 2~3 days to make it. As far as I know, you can't make PCB without importing a netlist from a schematic diagram file, especially when you have two DDR3 RAMs. It has been 1 month from the time and still I don't have the product. I need to decide how to react and would like to know if the company lied.

I spent about $6,000 for the outsourcing and now I have no idea what to do.

Best Answer

It is technically possible to design a PCB layout without first completing a schematic, but extremely unlikely. It just makes it unnecessarily complicated. I think whoever you hired is not being fully honest with you.

I think a likely alternate explanation is that the company you hired turned around and outsourced the project to yet another company! But they may want you to believe they are doing the work in house, so they're keeping you in the dark and coming up with weird excuses.

It's also possible that they are doing the work in house, but underestimated the skill level necessary to complete a board of that complexity (it turns out that high-speed signals are hard to design for). So they're stringing you along until they figure it out.

Either way, your prospects don't look good. I would think very seriously about trying to get your money back and go with a company that can keep their promises.