A System Approach to Superior Design

5G represents the next milestone in mobile communications, targeting more traffic, increased capacity, and reduced latency and energy consumption through various technologies such as MIMO and beam-forming antenna arrays, mmWave spectrum use, and carrier aggregation. NI AWR software helps engineers develop and integrate the technologies that will make these advances possible with features such as a proprietary phased-array generator, standard-specific 5G signal waveforms, and virtual RF modulated test benches for power amplifier analysis.
(Image courtesy of Alciom)


Rapidly implement end-to-end communication systems based on digital-signal processing (DSP)/RF behavioral models to optimize performance and cost tradeoffs.


Assign individual component performance requirements based on system partitioning and link budgets.


Insert simulated or measured component behavior into a system-level design to ensure overall performance.

Solution Highlights


Developers need a platform to rapidly explore various architectural options, tradeoffs between digital signaling methods, error-correction coding, multiple-access and spread-spectrum techniques, and bandwidth-efficient signaling. Design tools should offer pre-configured communication building blocks that allow baseband engineers to “drill down” into sources to verify and possibly modify physical-layer (PHY) 1 specifications. They should also offer high-level behavioral models that enable designers to initiate a new system design based on radio blocks with minimal performance details, which can be further defined as design information becomes available. 


Designers require various simulation technologies to capture time-domain and digitally-modulated frequency (circuit envelope) responses, link budget, and spurious analysis in order to capture the overall behavior of mixed signal (RF/DSP) end-to-end communications systems, inclusive of device nonlinearities and chain impairments.

Model Support

System designers require a comprehensive system model library that includes RF behavioral, file, and circuit-based models, DSP components for simulating different fixed-point formats, and channel and antenna models for over-the-air (OTA) fading and propagation simulations.

Test Benches

Support is needed for multiple wireless communication standards with test benches for transmitter conformance testing and receiver sensitivity analysis. Pre-configured test benches should allow systems engineers to simulate and optimize the performance of individual components based on peak-to-average ratio (PAR), adjacent channel-power ration (ACLR), error-vector magnitude (EVM), or any number of communication performance metrics. Designers should also be able to effectively evaluate the in-situ performance of other devices in the system for all current cellular standards and make EVM measurements on individual subcarriers and/or over the entire orthagonal frequency-division multiplexing (OFDM) symbol. Adjacent channel interference (ACI) analysis should also be easily performed. 

Associated Products

NI AWR Design Environment

The NI AWR Design Environment platform provides a single, complete design environment that seamlessly integrates simulation and design technology and manages the circuit/system/EM components within a project, supporting schematic design entry and fully-synchronized physical design and layout.

Visual System Simulator

Visual System Simulator™ (VSS) system design software virtual test benches support multiple wireless communication standards for communication performance metrics such as ACPR, EVM, bit-error rate (BER), and complementary contribution distribution function (CCDF), as well as transmitter conformance testing and receiver sensitivity analysis. VSS software supports modulation load-pull analysis for monolithic microwave integrated circuit (MMIC) power amplifier (PA) designs, as well as link-budget analysis for component specification and system verification.

Microwave Office

Microwave Office circuit design software features APLAC multi-rate, transient, and transient-assisted harmonic balance (HB) and time variant (circuit envelope) analysis for linear and nonlinear circuit simulation of PAs, low-noise amplifiers (LNAs), mixers/frequency converters, filters, switches, and multi-functional MMICs. Design aids include load-pull analysis, network synthesis (optional), design for manufacturing (optimization, yield and statistical analysis), device libraries, and process design kits (PDKs).


The AXIEM proprietary full-wave planar EM simulator based on method-of-moments (MoM) fast-solver technology simulates planar antenna arrays used in MIMO and beam-steering antenna systems. 


Analyst™ 3D finite-element method (FEM) EM analysis models 3D antennas and package and board interconnects, including wire bonds, air bridges and ball grids.


The 5G library supports 5G candidate signals implemented as parameterized blocks with source subcircuits and adjustable parameters such as carrier frequency, subcarrier spacing, number of subcarriers, filtering, and subcarrier mapping.

The RF Planner accelerates development of first-cut links for radio communications systems, cellular, or military radio, enabling designers to efficiently determine spurious-free dynamic range and bandwidths and providing spurious analysis from device nonlinearities, as well as cascaded measurements such as noise figure (NF), P1dB, signal-to-noise ratio (SNR), and IM3. 

The radar library within the phased-array generator wizard enables rapid configuration of phased-array antenna systems, supporting feed network development, gain tapering, and simulation of MIMO and beam-forming arrays.