Better RF Boards
To support increasing functionality, printed-circuit boards (PCBs) employ more complex board structures designed for a range of specialized applications. Offering a layout-driven design methodology for complex RF PCBs, NI AWR software supports accurate modeling of PCB transmission media from the RF signal path to digital control and DC bias lines. Circuit/system and electromagnetic co-simulation provides first-pass design success with complete PCB analysis of surface-mount components, interconnecting transmission lines, embedded and distributed passive elements, as well as EM verification.
Design automation accelerates product development with smart workflows for PCB realization.
RF-aware PCB design with EM co-simulation provides enhanced accuracy and greater fast-pass success.
The integrated platform supports concurrent electrical/physical design and circuit/system/EM co-simulation to minimize reliance on disparate point tools.
RF-aware PCB designs include transmission-lines, distributed elements, and surface-mount device models from component vendors, analyzed by circuit/system/EM co-simulation to accurately capture the high-frequency response. Circuit-board electrical behavior is directly linked to the physical attributes of individual components, as well as to the overall layout. Design entry via schematic/layout capture manages the circuit details, while automation and powerful scripting allows PCB designers to reduce manual design entry/editing and excessive data import/export between tools, while enabling tool customization for every special design consideration.
Prior to manufacturing, board designs must be verified through computer-aided simulation and analysis. RF/microwave electronics rely on specialized measurements such as noise figure (NF) and small-signal transmission and reflection parameters (S-parameters), as well as their nonlinear power, gain compression, and efficiency response to large-signal stimuli. While transient and time-domain analysis are used for oscillator design and waveform engineering, respectively, most RF PCB analysis relies on frequency-domain HB analysis of nonlinear networks, including power amplifiers (PAs) and frequency converters (mixers).
With the advent of digital modulation for communications systems, designers may also need to analyze PCB-based RF front-ends using circuit envelop analysis to simulate metrics such as adjacent-channel power-ratio (ACPR) and error-vector magnitude (EVM). In addition, dedicated RF link analysis provides a system perspective on the overall performance of multi-component signal paths.
Apart from modeling signal traces and distributed components, RF board designs require accurate high-frequency vendor models that capture the parasitics which lead to self-resonance and other non-ideal characteristics. RF-aware design tools should provide component model libraries for commercially available discrete and packaged MMIC/RFIC devices in the form of equivalent (compact) circuit models, S-parameters and/or behavioral models.
PCB designers rely on circuit/EM co-simulation, along with RF-aware circuit simulation and frequency-dependent transmission-line models, to provide embedded parasitic extraction and design verification. Hierarchical EM/circuit/system co-simulation enables designers to perform in-situ EM analysis to capture and correct harmful parasitic couplings and resonances before tapeout. Simulation with pre-configured and/or customized system test benches provides design verification of communications performance metrics such as ACPR, bit-error rate (BER), and EVM for mobile device and base-station PCBs operating under wireless, standards-specific, modulated waveforms.