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Industry News

An Advanced Integrated Layout Editor

A new layout capability that complements the recently upgraded Microwave Office circuit simulation and electromagnetic analysis tools by expanding the range of functionality into the physical layout of MMIC, RFIC and RF PCBs

July 1, 1999
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An Advanced Integrated Layout Editor

Applied Wave Research Inc. (AWR)
El Segundo, CA

An advanced integrated layout editor is featured in the latest upgrade to Microwave Office™ version 3.0 CAD software. The new Apollo layout capability complements Microwave Office's existing circuit simulation and electromagnetic (EM) analysis tools by expanding the range of functionality into the physical layout of MMIC, RFIC and RF printed circuit boards. Apollo is different from other microwave layout tools in that it is built upon a single object-oriented database. Users of the layout solution can rapidly create complex layouts and reduce the overall time and cost involved in getting products to market.

Microwave Office is the only RF and microwave software that was developed as a native Microsoft Windows application using an object-oriented database from the ground up. Microsoft's Component Object Model (COM), a software architecture that allows applications to be built from interoperable binary software components, provides key functionality that allows the pieces of Microwave Office to work together seamlessly. COM is the underlying architecture that forms the foundation for higher level software integration. The revolutionary new layout editor leverages this COM technology.

What's Different about the Layout Editor?

For much of electronic design, such as digital or analog circuit design, the layout process is accomplished separately from the design, simulation and modeling effort. However, for RF and microwave design the layout process is so critical to the performance that it is integral to the simulation process. The RF and microwave design process mandates that simulation be very closely tied to the layout tool. In Microwave Office, this approach was taken a step further. Instead of linking a layout tool to a simulator, the software package was designed with a single object-oriented database that is used concurrently by the simulator, schematic capture and layout tool. This capability completely eliminates the need for back annotation, forward annotation or any design synchronization and produces a design solution that is more powerful, better integrated and easier to use than conventional tools.

Real-time Tuning from Layout

Microwave Office has always been popular because of its unique real-time tuning capability, which mimics the laboratory environment. The introduction of the layout editor takes this feature to a higher level so that users can select components and literally stretch them while the simulation output changes in real time. Schematic, simulation and layout data are always consistent because of the implicit advantages in the common database approach. The seamless integration of layout into the Microwave Office simulation environment provides users with a real-time tuning capability that is unprecedented in high frequency electronic design tools.

Three-dimensional Photo Realistic Views

Layout problems can arise in microwave circuits that might not have occurred if the engineer could visualize what the final product would look like ahead of time. Although this picture could potentially be worth a lot more than a thousand words, microwave engineers have typically been forced to use their imagination to picture what their final design was going to look like. Microwave Office 3.0, in addition to displaying flat two-dimensional layouts, can also generate near photo realistic three-dimensional (3-D) views, as shown in Figure 1 . These images allow design engineers to inspect the final circuit layout from any angle for proper connections and clearances. To accomplish this 3-D capability, OpenGL, an advanced graphics technology commonly used in 3-D imaging applications, was incorporated. Figure 2 shows a screen shot of the technology in use. The 3-D views also update in real time during tuning and optimization.

New Productivity Heights with Intelligent Cells™

Conventional design/simulation tools require users to specify parameters for the interconnect and discontinuity models such as microstrip tees, crosses, steps and bends. This step places a burden on the user while allowing an opportunity for inadvertent mistakes. With Microwave Office 3.0, the user can use Intelligent Cells (iCells™) that are parameterless, as shown in Figure 3 . These models will literally adapt based upon what they are connected to, eliminating errors and increasing productivity. As an example, an iCell for a microstrip tee will automatically and seamlessly set the widths of the three connections to match the widths of the lines that it is connected to. If the user tunes or optimizes any of the three line widths, the tee will automatically update itself instantly.

Foundry Library Support

The Microwave Office layout editor enables users to create and modify custom cell libraries. The library development tools for creating cell libraries are included with the standard Microwave Office design suites. AWR is also working closely with commercial MMIC foundries to provide validated cell libraries. iCells can be used to create custom MMIC elements that generate "correct by construction" cells built upon the foundries' specific process rules. Foundry libraries will be available for TRW's HBT and 0.15 mm pHEMT processes and TriQuint's HPA process. Other libraries are in development.

Advances in Circuit Simulation Technology

Microwave Office 3.0 also includes a number of advances in the field of circuit simulation. The linear circuit simulator is over 1000-times faster than previous versions due to the addition of a new sparse matrix reduction technique and a revolutionary incremental solving algorithm that dramatically reduces the number of calculations during tuning and optimization. For nonlinear simulation, enhancements have been made to the harmonic balance engine to improve convergence of strongly nonlinear circuits. The improvements are specifically well suited to the analysis of high power bipolar junction transistor amplifiers. Other enhancements include over 50 new linear and nonlinear models.

Internet-based Device Library Support

The Internet has significantly improved engineers' access to component information. However, up until now, users have not had access to this information from within their electronic design tools. Engineers are often limited to using obsolete device data in their simulations. With Microwave Office 3.0, users can link directly through the World Wide Web to select the latest measured or modeled data from their suppliers' sites.

Migration from HP EEsof Series IV and ADS

A new data migration utility is available to assist HP EEsof Series IV™ and Advanced Design System (ADS) users in migrating to Microwave Office. The SIV2MWO and ADS2MWO products, which leverage core technology developed by SmartLynx Inc., provide an interactive design transport solution for Series IV and ADS to the Microwave Office design environment. This solution maintains the integrity of the high frequency design, allowing a seamless transport path. Users of ADS, Series IV and the EEsof Libra nonlinear circuit simulator have a compelling new option when considering their upgrade paths.

Conclusion

Microwave Office is available for immediate delivery on Windows NT and Windows 95/98. Version 3.0 is expected to begin shipping in September and existing customers under maintenance will receive version 3.0 as an upgrade. Licensing options include floating network and node-locked software licenses. Microwave Office is offered as a stand-alone product or as an upgrade to the company's EMSight,™ VoltaireLS™ or VoltaireXL™ products. Pricing ranges from $8500 to $29,500, depending on the specific configuration. A fully functioning 30-day evaluation version can be found on the Web at www.appwave.com. Minimum system requirements are a Pentium-class computer with SVGA graphics, CD ROM drive and 32 MB of RAM.

Applied Wave Research Inc (AWR),
El Segundo, CA (310) 726-3000.

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