•−•  ••−•    −•−•  •−  ••−•  •
RF Cafe Morse Code >Hear It<

Job Board

About RF Cafe™

Sitemap

Design package Beauty Contest? - RF Cafe Forums

Because of the high maintenance needed to monitor and filter spammers from the RF Cafe Forums, I decided that it would be best to just archive the pages to make all the good information posted in the past available for review. It is unfortunate that the scumbags of the world ruin an otherwise useful venue for people wanting to exchanged useful ideas and views. It seems that the more formal social media like Facebook pretty much dominate this kind of venue anymore anyway, so if you would like to post something on RF Cafe's Facebook page, please do.

Below are all of the forum threads, including all the responses to the original posts.


Graham
Post subject: Design package Beauty Contest? Posted: Tue Oct 11, 2005 7:40 pm

Colonel


Joined: Fri Sep 02, 2005 7:25 pm
Posts: 34
Location: Hampshire UK
Forgive me guys if this has been well thrashed out somehere already, but.. I couldn't find it. Before I invest again, and regret, I would like to have some kind of RF-Cafe beauty contest for EDA design apps.

Selfish that I am, I hope to duck spending any more of my life going up yet another lock-you-in learning curve with demos, I would like to tap in to what some of you have already know about suitability. So, here is some of what I find in my trawl. I confess some of my judgements here are inexperienced, and may not be fair, but you can tell me when I am wrong about a product

eg. Microwave Office - some kind comments about it, but is it primarily aimed at MMIC designers, or would it be just right for someone who wants to figure a EPHEMT design at 2.4GHz with feedback? Does one need to have Analog designer as well, to figure the bias, or can it be used in a more general sense. Should I try the demo without knowing the price?

APLAC, is very capable, but student version hits a memory restriction on a one transistor circuit with 2 resistors for a bias chain, one in the collector, a current measurer in the collector, and one swept AC input, plus a voltage source to run on. Sweep happens OK, but it won't play if you want the simple DC condition as well. They do something special about the maths. APLAC comes in lots of separated bits (er.. modules). Its very fast! Cost of ownership..? I am scared to ask. Its a bit geek to use, and the manual pdf is dripping with boardroom tech thesis newspeak that could have been honed at a university.

MultiSim, ex Electronics Workbench, which I have used for a project, is quite friendly. Nerds would feel patronised (the waveform display does not have to be on a scope graphic with front panel controls!) BUT.. its a SPICE simulator unable to do s-parameters. I think it is among the most popular, but I am not sure of its usefulness for RF.

SWCAD III is a SPICE simulator free from Linear Technology, with no memory or other restrictions. It is blindingly fast, and very geared to accurately modelling waveforms from switchmode power supply designs. Linear provide lots of them. BUT.. the things one has to do to get a external model into it, is kinda awkward. Still, it is relentlessly Berkley Spice, and so has possibilities, provided one can persuade the model parameters out of suppliers like Agilent.

Ahh.. Agilent. That means ADS I think. So how good is it? What does it cost? Ballpark will do - I don't want to tell my life story and describe what technology areas I might be designing in, just so I can "register" with my "area manager". From Agilent, it is unlikely a small outfit like me could afford it, but I will look at anything. I notice that the model for an Agilent PHEMT discrete comes as a ".zap" file. Renamed to ".zip", WinRar extracts it to reveal innards which include what looks like SPICE text FET parameters wrapped up in there. The GUI display files look a bit ORCAD, but I don't know.

Protel - taken over or become Altium. I knew it as Protel99SE , but I don't work for the firm that used it anymore. Maybe they fixed the strange way the schematic could only be navigated using scrollbars, while the PCB layout moved by mouse "grab 'n shove". It made some complicated PCBs for me, but the only way to get the autorouter to be useful was to spend more time setting up its rules than you might have spent using good old human sense. RF and autorouters are a subject by itself.

Ultiboard? er.. I don't know them

OrCAD, certainly famous. Are they Mentor graphics/ I didn't keep up with it all, and I couldn't afford it anyway.

So.. first we need a LIST. Then a formula for goodness factor. eg. we divide the rating by the price in dollars. We can multiply by a positive loading if it does RF goalseeking automatch, etc We can maybe come up with something the industry will come to respect and fear. The RF-Cafe rating! Hmm - maybe Kurt would not wish it to be too intimidating.


Top

Kirt Blattenberger
Post subject: Posted: Wed Oct 12, 2005 10:24 am

Site Admin


Joined: Sun Aug 03, 2003 2:02 pm
Posts: 308
Location: Erie, PA
Greetings Grahm:

If you would create a poll question and list of answers choices, I will be glad to use it for the next new poll.

It would be really useful to have a public forum for constructive criticism and/or praise for the very expensive design software available these days.

_________________
- Kirt Blattenberger
RF Cafe Progenitor & Webmaster


Top

Kirt Blattenberger
Post subject: Registered Users Can Now Create PollsPosted: Wed Oct 12, 2005 12:08 pm

Site Admin


Joined: Sun Aug 03, 2003 2:02 pm
Posts: 308
Location: Erie, PA
Greetings Grahm:

In response to your post, I have modified priviliges for REGISTERED users like yourself to allow creation of polls in all but the Company Ratings, Polls, and Webmaster forums.

Please try your hand at creating a poll for your CAE package topic and let's see how it works. Thanks.

_________________
- Kirt Blattenberger
RF Cafe Progenitor & Webmaster


Top

IR
Post subject: Posted: Wed Oct 12, 2005 4:08 pm

Site Admin


Joined: Mon Jun 27, 2005 2:02 pm
Posts: 373
Location: Germany
Hello Graham,

Each EDA tool has its own advantages and disadvantages. It all depdns on what your field of design is.

I have been using in many of the tools you mentioned. In the end-effect you will choose the right tool for your needs by how much money you can spend, what are your applications/ products etc. The trend nowadays, (And I am sure that many will agree with me), is that EDA vendors make their tools integrated so they can support in many applications as possible. This is exemplified with RF tools as MWO or Eagleware (now Agilent ) that can do: EM, linear, HB, layout and system simulation all together in one environment. This is a great advantage intended for users that can make a flexible choice tailored for their specific needs out of the full EDA suite.

In summary, you will need to do a serious market survey and define exactly what are your needs and how much you can afford to spend in order to find the best choice for your applications/products.

_________________
Best regards,

- IR


Top

Graham
Post subject: Posted: Thu Oct 13, 2005 6:12 am

Colonel


Joined: Fri Sep 02, 2005 7:25 pm
Posts: 34
Location: Hampshire UK
Hi Kurt & IR

It is now in thought. The point about each package having its strengths in different areas of application is taken. I should like to contrive a way this can be reflected so that folk perusing collected information can see what suits their need. A trite league tabel approach would produce misleading impressions. (eg the use of league tables in UK school exam results does not deal well with say a group of 2000 schools, all of which score beyond 95%. One of them is at the bottom, despite being excellent!)

I am alarmed at the way the semiconductor supply companies try to aquire, then vary the usefulness of a tool for any but their own product. I cite as example the original SPICE engine development. This was publicly funded, and hence was public domain. Understandably, many enterprises produced front ends and back ends and bells and whistles. Some re-wrote the code to include traps for convergence problems, and sparse matrix solution to make the thing faster. If ever there was a need to keep a dynamically developing, but agreed standard for device model descriptoin across the industry, it was here. Some offshoot formats became *so* popular that they became "industry standard" by default (eg. Touchstone). Looking at an APLAC file, it is clear those Finnish academics tried hard to make a format that maintained the compatibility with the large base of SPICE model files out there. They used the same rules, while introducing their own additional commands and analysis devices.

OK then, before we start "rating" them, I will start by collecting a list of the packages I think significant enough to include, and I will respond amicably to anyone making a good case to include any that I left out in ignorance.

Kurt - somehow I get the feeling I don't know where this is going to end up!
Graham


Top

Graham
Post subject: Posted: Sun Oct 16, 2005 8:04 am

Colonel


Joined: Fri Sep 02, 2005 7:25 pm
Posts: 34
Location: Hampshire UK
I have been trawling through the sites, and so far my impression is that more and more of the tools, already hard to afford, are being mopped up in "consolidations". The tools are either completely supplied by the device vendors, or gathered into EDA design house companies with a tight relationship to them.

The new relationships deriving from recent takeovers is confusing.

ADS is Agilent's product
EAGLEWARE-ELANIX are still there, now part of Agilents product. I now have to imagine them competing madly to sell to potential ADS customers!

ALPAC, now owned by AWR, who are surely going to let us have the chioce of MICROWAVE OFFICE, with both products steaming along at full strength - er..are they? Maybe "the new product combines the strengths of of ..blah ..SYNERGY..blah." OK - I got cynical just then. Onward..
These are just preamble obsevations as I try to collect the list together. We will not be comparing like with like, and I would like it that we end up with something more than a price list. So I put aside for the moment the big fellas, and take a look at a giveaway.

Linear Technology's SWCAD is a industrial strength SPICE simulator given away free. The thing has been tweaked to be an extremely fast product demonstrator, that comes with a whole heap of ready-made applications using Linear's switchmode PSU devices. The tool allows designers to alter and adapt the designs to their particular need, (though I suspect for some designers, the difference is tokenly marginal). Its more than a tad awkward to generate and apply models for other vendor's devices in SWCAD, so presumably its value as a design tool for the competition is limited. SWCAD can be used as a general purpose SPICE simulator, even for microwave, but handicapped by the model application limits. You have to be prepared to get dirty with model text files if you wand it useful.

Here is where we come to the industry leverage. SPICE as a network calculation method is great, but it has its pitfalls. It will have a transistor deliver megawatts without complaint if all we started with was a linear model derived from s-parameters. It will not calculate past a capacitor-isolated node in a matching network unless you give it a giga-ohm path to ground to avoid a divide-by-zero. Tools that have "nice" front-ends to get past these problems, come also with non-standard formats.

I am still gathering the list. If anyone can shorten the task of discovering the cost of ownership of these packages, do tell. When I ask, vendors want my life story + description of intended projects before the will even send me invites to "seminars"



Posted  11/12/2012
Custom Search
More than 10,000 searchable pages indexed.

Your RF Cafe
Progenitor & Webmaster

Click here to read about RF CafeKirt Blattenberger... single-handedly redefining what an engineering website should be.

View the YouTube RF Cafe Intro Video Carpe Diem!
(Seize the Day!)

5th MOB: My USAF radar shop

Airplanes and Rockets: My personal hobby website

Equine Kingdom: My daughter Sally's horse riding website