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Perhaps the two most widely used RF/microwave CAE software design packages are Agilent’s ADS and Microwave Office™ from AWR. Both companies are tireless in their attention to upgrading the software packages, with Agilent recently announcing the latest version of the system-level simulation software, SystemVue 2013.08, for ADS. This new version is capable of performing distributed simulations on Linux server farms, and now offers a new digital modem library along with enhanced libraries for radar, satellite navigation, and wireless local area networks (WLANs) systems.

Also, Agilent’s Genesys software (developed by Eagleware) provides linear and nonlinear circuit simulators, complete with 3D planar EM simulation for antennas and PCB analysis.

In addition to offering a free trial version of Microwave Office on its website, AWR recently launched a television portal from within its main website to provide hundreds of educational demonstration videos and tutorial lessons on the use of its software tools. The television portal includes video lessons on EM simulation tools, designing a GaAs monolithic-microwave-integrated-circuit (MMIC) power amplifier (PA); designing an ETSI E-band circuit for millimeter-wave wireless links; performing an integrated electro-thermal analysis and design of a silicon-germanium PA; and simulating phased antenna arrays using the firm’s Visual System Simulator™ (VSS) system-level software.

AWR’s Analog Office collection of software tools includes routines for AC and noise analysis (the HSPICE program); studying interconnection interfaces; planar 3D EM analysis of on-chip interconnections (the Analyst™ program) and on-chip passive circuit elements (the AXIEM® program); and even harmonic-balance analysis (the APLAC program).

The Pantheon software from Intercept is a low-cost simulator aimed at PCB designers, with operating interfaces to aid engineers working with schematic-based designs as well as layout-driven designs, and to simplify links to third-party analysis programs. The software enables users to create complex shapes with its graphical editing features, and supports its layouts with links to a wide range of models from other supplier’s software tools, including Agilent’s ADS and AWR’s Microwave Office tools. 

Engineers willing to invest the time in exploring different software interfaces and capabilities will find an unprecedented number of free and trial versions of CAE packages on the market at the moment. Arden Technologies offers a free trial version of its SysCalc6 simulation software, complete with flexible mixer and filter models. This (normally) low-cost, simple-to-use software provides simulated data for all classical output parameters, including gain, noise figure, and output power, and they can all be related to other parameters within the same component.

Remcom offers a 30-day free trial of Release 7 of its XFdtd® EM simulation software. The 3D simulation software has been enhanced with CPU acceleration to speed calculations and with unlimited memory support for problems exceeding 60 GB. The trial version is available for free download for finite-difference, time-domain (FDTD) EM modeling and simulation.

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