Design Software Makes its Mark

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Engineers today can take advantage of design software to simulate everything from extremely simple to highly elaborate designs. This was demonstrated at this year’s IEEE International Microwave Symposium (IMS), as a number of software providers showcased their impressive capabilities. With software playing such a critical role, the companies that provide these tools continue to push the envelope by offering more efficient solutions than before.

For example, Sonnet recently enhanced its capabilities with the introduction of Release 16 (V16). A major benefit of V16 is integration with the Modelithics CLR Library for Sonnet. This library contains a large number of simulation models, allowing users to easily include more models in their Sonnet simulations. Modelithics integration is not the only new feature in V16. The maximum thread count for the high performance solver (HPS) has been increased from 32 to 48, enabling larger projects to be boosted in speed by as much as 50%.

One company that may not immediately come to mind when discussing high-frequency design software is MathWorks. Of course, many associate the company with MATLAB, which is used by companies and universities everywhere. But the company is also focusing specifically on RF design, demonstrated by the RF Toolbox software. The RF Toolbox allows users to specify filters, transmission lines, amplifiers, and mixers directly or by their physical properties. It can read and write touchstone file formats, meaning that S-parameter data obtained from a vector network analyzer (VNA) can be imported and plotted, for instance.

Furthermore, the RF Budget Analyzer was recently introduced in the RF Toolbox. The RF Budget Analyzer is a helpful tool that allows system designers to build and analyze a cascade of RF components. It can calculate cascaded gain, noise figure, and third-order intercept-point (IP3). This is a nice tool that is an improvement over using a spreadsheet, which has often been used in these situations. In addition, the RF Budget Analyzer works together with the company’s SimRF software.  

Of course, companies like Keysight, National Instruments, and ANSYS are well known providers of high-frequency design software. COMSOL—with its Multiphysics software—is another company that offers engineers an advanced modeling and simulation tool. And Computer Simulation Technology just announced a free student version of its electromagnetic (EM) simulation software. With all of these and other options, those who use RF/microwave design software have many tools at their disposal today.    

Looking for parts? Go to SourceESB.

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Chris DeMartino

Chris has worked in the RF/microwave industry since 2004. Throughout this time, he has helped to develop and test a variety of RF/microwave components and assemblies for both commercial and military...
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