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Ansoft carves another niche for HFSS tool

Posted: 01 Sep 2003 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:high frequency structure simulator? hfss version 9? hspice? spectre rf? pspice?

Ansoft Corp. has updated its flagship High Frequency Structure Simulator (HFSS) to model the radiation patterns of 3D metal structures. While HFSS version 9 carves out new territory as an entire design flow built around electromagnetics, it retains its links to the Cadence Virtuoso and Mentor Graphics BoardStation design environments.

With rising interest in wireless and HF system design, HFSS increasingly models RF and microwave components like antennas and arrays as well as IC packages and lead frames.

The latest version, first demonstrated at the recent Design Automation Conference, helps to simplify model generation and analysis and offers advanced data management and design features, said Brad Brim, HFSS product marketing manager at Ansoft.

3D structures

All HFSS capabilities are integrated within the HFSS Desktop, a new design environment for 3D structure and electromagnetics-based design. Looking and feeling like Microsoft Windows, HFSS Desktop uses a graphical interface and familiar project tree to offer access to all parts of the HFSS design flow.

The graphics interface - for modeling magnetic field radiators like antennas as well as connector and IC pins - offers the ability to partition and blow up a 3D structure on-screen. While mesh analysis has always been an Ansoft forte, the new interface lets users highlight sections of the mesh with translucency and animation. Such graphics are meant to aid in visualizing electromagnetic radiation paths and patterns from the structure.

The graphical design management tree lets users input parameters like dimensions, shapes and electrical characteristics and do analysis operations. It also provides access to multiple designs concurrently.

Engineers can tailor the HFSS design flow to their needs with customized Windows, dialog boxes, toolbars and menu items, Ansoft said. Users can access commands through the main menu, toolbars, project tree and context-sensitive menus. In addition, the customization and control may be used to define parameterized geometries, implement custom analysis flow or control design flow.

With Ansoft's Optimetrics module, for example, optimization and parametric sweeps are automated and accessed from the same project tree within the desktop. These design techniques are augmented by sensitivity and statistical analyses, which have historically depended on powerful machinery and lengthy simulation runs. Here, the same simulation data automates design for manufacturing by applying the implicit parameterization to HFSS objects.

A major issue for RF design - which ordinarily depends on the wavelengths of transmission frequencies - has been the translation between electrical engineering and mechanical databases. With AnsoftLinks, users can integrate HFSS into existing EDA and mechanical CAD design flows, with links to tools from Cadence, Mentor Graphics, Synopsys and Zuken.

To ship data back into electrical engineering design flows, broadband circuit models support HSPICE, Spectre RF and PSPICE as well as Ansoft's Maxwell SPICE. Fully parametric circuit models are also available to support efficient HF circuit design in Ansoft Designer and other circuit and system design tools.

Ansoft said it is also working on a relationship with National Instruments Corp. that would close the loop between design and test. In principle, data collected by NI's test setups could increase the accuracy of Ansoft's parameterization and modeling. Simulations would similarly be improved by using NI "virtual instrument" in the simulation effort for Ansoft Designer.

- Stephan Ohr

EE Times

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