Cadence Design Systems Inc. and NI announced a broad-ranging collaboration to improve the overall semiconductor development and test process for next-generation wireless, automotive and mobile ICs and modules. To meet customers’ needs for a streamlined and comprehensive solution, Cadence and NI have pursued projects that integrate key design tool technologies into a common user environment to improve the design, analysis and testing of analog, RF and digital ICs and system-in-package (SiP) modules — spanning from pre-silicon design to volume production test.

To further enhance RF development, Cadence has also launched the new Virtuoso® RF Solution, which enables RF engineers to design, implement and analyze entire RF modules and RFICs from within the Virtuoso custom IC design platform. Virtuoso RF Solution with the integrated AXIEM 3D planar EM solver technology will be sold and supported exclusively by Cadence, to leverage years of development and customer deployment expertise.

Cadence Virtuoso RF Solution and AXIEM 3D Planar EM Software Integration

Traditionally, each stage in the IC development process has operated in isolation, supported by a unique and dedicated set of design tools, models, languages and data formats. This siloed approach can cause design failures due to the manual translation of data between numerous disjointed tools. To address this issue and streamline the RFIC and RF module design flow, Cadence developed the following capabilities within the new Virtuoso RF solution:

  • RFIC and RF module co-design provides a robust design environment, enabling simultaneous editing of multiple ICs on a complex RF module while streamlining design to manufacturing tasks.
  • Single “golden” schematic offers schematic-driven layout implementation, EM analysis and simulation and physical verification checks of RFIC and RF module designs through a single schematic source, reducing design failures.
  • Smart EM simulation interface includes integration between the Cadence® Sigrity™ PowerSI® 3D EM extraction option and the Virtuoso RF Solution, which automates hours of manual work required to run passive component and interconnect EM simulations, so users can run multiple in-design experiments.

As part of the collaboration between the two companies, the Cadence interface has been extended to include integration with the AXIEM 3D planar EM simulator within the Cadence Virtuoso RF Solution design environment.

The AXIEM software’s fast solver technology addresses passive structures, transmission lines, large planar antenna and patch array problems with more than 100,000 unknowns, providing the accuracy, capacity and speed engineers need to ensure design integrity with the first attempt. It also incorporates NI’s proprietary full-wave planar method of moments (MoM) technology, enabling discrete- and fast-frequency sweeps.

The integrated Cadence and NI EM solutions equip engineers with a variety of EM analysis methods for designing RFICs and RF modules.

Common Semiconductor Models

Compatible models are critical to ensuring correlated results across different simulation tools. Cadence and NI are jointly working to deliver common transistor models, ensuring consistent simulation behavior of GaAs, GaN and silicon transistor models between Microwave Office circuit design software and the Cadence Spectre® simulation platform.

Tom Beckley, senior vice president and general manager in the Custom IC & PCB group at Cadence, said, “With customers beginning to design the next generation of RF products for 5G, autonomous vehicles and other vertical markets, we saw a need to deliver a comprehensive RF solution that creates more efficiencies and drives innovation. Based on the trusted Virtuoso custom IC design platform, the new Cadence Virtuoso RF Solution streamlines design and analysis for RFIC and RF modules. The collaboration between Cadence and NI and the integration of our tools can enable customers to seamlessly analyze and simulate their chip and package, reducing design cycle time and improving quality of results.”

Kevin Ilcisin, vice president of strategy and corporate development at NI, said, “Our customers are continuously seeking new approaches to accelerate their product development cycles. The collaboration with Cadence allows us to embed our AXIEM 3D Planar EM software directly into the Virtuoso RF Solution, enabling customers to easily design analog, mixed-signal, RFIC and RF modules.”