Technologies transforming next generation integrated circuits (ICs) and discrete components

Next-Gen Devices

Advances in RF semiconductor technologies will continue to transform communications systems and the devices that power them, from wide bandwidth gallium nitride (GaN) power amplifiers (PAs) supporting new basestation architectures and RF energy applications to high-volume silicon (Si) solutions that are making 5G deployment a reality. Adoption of the latest semiconductor process nodes requires close collaboration between monolithic microwave integrated circuit (MMIC)/RFIC manufacturers (foundries), electronic design automation (EDA) vendors, and designers. NI AWR software supports this collaboration with device models and process design kits (PDKs) developed in partnership with foundries and designers.


Electromagnetic (EM)-aware PDKs enable designers to develop complex MMICs/RFICs and optimize performance with novel architectures.


Powerful scripting, software automation, and application-programming interfaces (APIs) support a flexible platform that can be customized to address virtually any design flow configuration.


Reliable EM analysis for design verification and yield optimization avoids costly re-spins.

Industry Segments


Gallium arsenide (GaAs) was once the automatic choice of semiconductor material for high-frequency, solid-state devices, components, and ICs, from amplifiers to switches. Over the last decade, however, gallium nitride (GaN) has become the favorite high-frequency semiconductor compound, steadily replacing GaAs in many RF/microwave applications. This is especially true of higher-frequency, higher-RF applications, where low-noise figure is needed, such as receiver front ends. GaAs is still widely used in portable wireless products, such as smartphones, tablets, and Wi-Fi devices. The higher-voltage capabilities of GaN devices and MMICs makes them ideal for applications such as power amplifiers (PAs) in wireless base stations and military radar. NI AWR software supports both technologies with models that capture their electrical and thermal behavior, enabling the design of communication ICs based on these compound semiconductors.


Silicon germanium (SiGe) offers differentiating performance with a proven, economically-attractive silicon technology base supporting the integration of  digital and RF functions. SiGe heterojunction bipolar transistors (HBTs) offer excellent low-current/high-frequency performance and can operate at high-junction temperatures for power applications. The NI AWR Design Environment platform supports SiGe PDKs from leading foundries, providing designers with symbols and schematic, scalable models with RF accuracy, Monte Carlo analysis for statistical/mismatch simulation, advanced layout utilities, and accurate EM simulation.


As 5G New Radio (NR) pushes RFIC design into the millimeter-wave (mmWave) spectrum, designers need EM technology that is integrated into their circuit design environment to support in-situ parasitic extraction and design verification. NI has partnered with Cadence to address this need by integrating NI AWR software AXIEM 3D planar EM technology into the Cadence Virtuoso RF design platform. This integrated flow enables RF engineers to characterize on- and off-chip passive components and interconnects directly from within the Virtuoso platform to address the design, analysis, and verification of RF modules and RFICs. 

Case Studies

mmWave Performance

The Defence Science and Technology (DST) Group within Australia’s Department of Defence developed a broadband receiver based on SiGE semiconductor process technology that depended on modern computer-aided engineering (CAE) design and simulation software to help realize a complex circuit and layout. The DST Group used NI AWR Design Environment Analog Office RFIC design software. 

Base-Station Amplifiers

The Wolfspeed design team chose NI AWR software to develop its GaN PAs for communication infrastructure. The goal was to achieve high-output power (80-115 W) over a 0.5-3.0-GHz frequency range with greater than 48% drain efficiency. A high degree of correlation was achieved in the full design between the simulated and measured results, with the predicted drain efficiency typically within 2% of the measured data and the output power within 0.5 dB across the frequency range. 

Electro-Thermal Modeling

Identifying thermal “hot spots” is becoming an increasingly important task as the design of high-power devices such as MMICs, modules, and flip chips becomes more complex. The performance of the models in an electrical simulation is heavily influenced by operating temperature, and performing coupled electrical-thermal simulations throughout the design process helps to ensure that, once fabricated, the end product will operate as desired. NI AWR software provides an integrated solution for thermal analysis within Microwave Office circuit design software through the AWR Connected™ CapeSym SYMMIC™ thermal analysis software tool. The solution is a fast and easy way to co-simulate in order to reveal the impact of heat on the  phase, gain, efficiency, noise, and intermodulation distortion performance of the circuit in question.