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Online tool leverages skill in analog design

Posted: 01 Mar 2005 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:analog design engineer? analog circuitry? national semiconductor? webench? online design tool?

If you provide analog design engineers with an easier way to create, develop and implement a typical analog circuitry, they will do whatever it takes to grab that opportunity. This was probably what National Semiconductor had in mind when they introduced the Webench online design tool to the market five years ago.

Starting from simple online power-management tools, the company regularly pushed the Webench's environment by adding more simulations in response to client's demands. Just recently, National Semiconductor has expanded the Webench facility by adding an active filter designer that aims to hasten the creation of sophisticated filters for DAQ and signal-conditioning applications. Designed from the ground up, the tool lets engineers develop customized filters for all standard types such as low pass, high pass, band pass and band stop.

By using Webench's facility, engineers can try virtually all extreme requirements for a typical design without investing anything other than time. It usually takes about 40 to 80 man-hours to get an operating prototype, and Webench aims to cut that time to about 90 percent.

"Analog design is not a trivial task," said Phil Gibson, VP for corporate marketing at National Semiconductor. "The 2005 release of Webench has added an active filter simulator that assists engineers in specifying the filter they want to create, allowing them to harvest the needed information out of a noisy signal in an easier and faster way."

Analog hunger

In Asia, analog design is still a new technology. "The entire Asia-Pacific market is hungry for analog design technology and knowledge," Gibson said. Over the last five years the Webench environment has grown to approximately 90,000 registered users. There are about 15,000 registered users in Asia; and the largest single-user base is in mainland China with 3,500, followed by Korea with 3,100. Other Webench registered users in the Asia-Pacific comes from Australia, India and Taiwan. "Though we have more users in mainland China, the largest number of designs we receive on a regular basis, however, comes mostly from Korea."

National Semiconductor's online distance learningAnalog Universityhas the largest client usage in the region. "The courses we offer online are used most aggressively in the Asia-Pacific; and the course that reaps the highest demand is amplifier design," Gibson said.

Not too hasty

However, it seems too good to be true when one looks at the capability that Webench offers. The orientation and environment may give engineers the needed support to concretize the design they have in mind. But still, Gibson warns that engineers should not be hasty in moving their design immediately to production without doing physical implementation.

"So far, none of our clients have come back and said things didn't work the way they should have," said Gibson. "But we must always remember that analog is still fairly a 'cosmic art' and you still need to do physical implementation first to validate the design you've created virtually."

- Rey Buan Jr.

Electronic Engineering Times-Asia

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