The 2015 IEEE IMS is, of course, an important educational event for many, featuring an excellent collection of technical presentations and focused technical meetings like the Automatic RF Techniques Group (ARFTG). But a great deal of the education takes place right on the exhibition floor with every stop—at every booth. For those working company booths on the floor, there’s little more gratifying (save for a product order taken at the booth) than a visitor stopping at the booth and wanting to know more about the company and its products. It offers a chance to exchange business cards and make contacts for future business, and an avenue toward learning more about a company and those products on display.

A walk through IEEE IMS Exhibition can usually bring visitors up to speed on any of the different technologies driving this industry. However, over the last few decades, software developers have taken an increasingly prominent position on the show floor, likely because their simulation and analysis tools play an increasingly prominent role in the working lives of RF/microwave engineers. Modern computer-aided-engineering (CAE) simulation software impacts almost every device and circuit technology, and engineers across the industry use the close match between simulated and measured results as the reassurance that a circuit design is sound and reliable. Among other things, the 2015 IEEE IMS Exhibition offers an opportunity to try out the latest design software tools and perhaps grab one or two free copies of demonstration software to learn more about programs that may not be so familiar.

The exhibition area is open for slightly less than three days, and visitors can easily spend all of their time just scouring the sections of the show floor and the companies devoted to CAE software or to test equipment. This article presents a sampling of what to expect from some of the companies on the show floor, but hardly covers even a significant portion of what will be on hand in the exhibition area. As always, to learn more, contact a company of interest. For those fortunate enough to make the trip to Phoenix, Ariz. in May, value the time at each booth and spend it wisely. 

Simulation Permutations

Often, such product exhibitions open up possibilities to see how things work, such as simulation software and test equipment. The exhibition booths will particularly be well stocked with computer simulation software, including some of the most sophisticated electromagnetic (EM) simulation tools.

For instance, the event offers the opportunity to spend time with the likes of Dr. Jim Rautio, founder of Sonnet Software (Booth 2640) and developer of the firm’s famed Sonnet Suites of EM simulation software tools. These three-dimensional (3D) planar EM simulation programs analyze the fields around high-frequency circuits (e.g., microstrip and stripline) and predict the EM fields that will occur around different structures (e.g., filters and antennas) and different circuit junctions. They provide engineers with a means to predict the effects of using direct materials with different dielectric constants and loss characteristics at different frequencies before having to fabricate a number of prototype circuits.

Though considered standalone tools, the Sonnet Suites are also integrated with many other high-frequency CAE simulation programs, including the Advanced Design System (ADS) from Keysight Technologies (Booth 739), Cadence Virtuoso from Cadence Design Systems (Booth 2832), the CST Studio Suite (Fig. 1) from CST of America (Booth 3244), MATLAB from MathWorks (Booth 107), and the AWR Microwave Office design tools from Applied Wave Research and parent company National Instruments (Booth 2431). Each of these software tools will be available for demonstration at their respective booths, with the benefit of knowledgeable users on hand to answer questions.

For those who may be intimidated by the cost of electronic-design-automation (EDA) software, Sonnet Software also offers Sonnet Lite software for free download from the company’s website. This is a limited version of the Sonnet Suites, which is quite useful for taking a “first look” at certain designs and then deciding whether to make the investment in the full-scale version of the software. Across the show floor, numerous other vendors offer affordable software solutions with or without free trial versions. For example, Intercept Technology (Booth 948) provides design tools that helps create practical schematic diagrams as well as printed-circuit-board (PCB) layouts. In any case, for those exploring the 2015 IMS for high-frequency software tools, a visit to Sonnet Software makes a good first stop before delving into system-level EDA tools.

Not far from Sonnet, ANSYS (Booth 2036) will show examples of its different CAE tools, including its own 3D EM simulation software, the High-Frequency Structure Simulator (HFSS) software. This full-wave EM simulation tool has long been used to model not only RF/microwave circuits, but high-speed digital circuits as well. The software provides advanced solver approaches based on finite-element (FE) and integral-equation solutions, and includes a linear circuit simulator to help designers create circuit transitions such as input and output matching circuits in amplifiers and other active circuits.

On the other side of the exhibition hall, at Keysight’s (formerly Agilent Technologies) Booth 739, visitors can learn about the latest trend in EDA software tools— products such as Keysight’s Advanced Design System (ADS) and SystemVue system-level software tools. These work seamlessly with EM simulators and component-level circuit simulators to provide integrated modeling tools for high-frequency analog and high-speed digital circuit and system designers.

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