Enhanced PCB Design Flow Saves Time and Effort

Sep 27, 2017 | Posted by: David Vye

Simulation offers the greatest opportunity to shorten design time, improve manufacturability and quality. RF designers increasingly rely on EM simulations to characterize board designs before the first component is placed and continue to use electromagnetic (EM) analysis right through manufacturing handoff. New capabilities in automation and EM analysis will be critical as board designs become denser and new manufacturing processes allow engineers to squeeze more performance out of their PCB designs. For example, combining EM simulation with yield analysis allows engineers to design for manufacturing. 

pcb flow

For PCBs with high-speed digital signals operating at microwave frequencies and RF front-end designs tightly integrated into mixed-signal PCBs, RF/microwave designers and signal integrity engineers need to perform EM analysis on board designs that originate with enterprise CAD board tools. The recently introduced PCB import wizard for IPC-2581 (A and B) and ODB++ (V7 and V8) file formats that's found within NI AWR Design Environment, specifically Microwave Office circuit design software, makes it easier for these engineers to import layouts produced by leading enterprise board tools into AXIEM 3D planar EM simulator for fast and accurate EM analysis.

pcb flow


Watch the PCB Design: Import Wizard for IPC2581 and EM Simulation/Validation  five-minute video on AWR.TV to learn more about the  import wizard capabilities.

Additionally, understanding and improving board designs for high-frequency applications is further enabled through NI AWR software's PCB design flow enhancements including general shape modifiers to de-feature PCB layout for faster, more robust EM simulation and automation to manage and simplify PCB analysis.  A recent customer success at Mitsubishi demonstrates the value of integrating EM analysis into the PCB design flow as it accelerated the PCB design process for Mitsubishi Electric Corporation designers developing the company’s DIATONE car audio system. “Hot spots” in the signal path between the system’s two-board configuration were quickly identified by AXIEM using its current path view; allowing designers to implement changes to components in Microwave Office, which in turn coupled back into AXIEM results. Through EM analysis, the cost of the PCB design was reduced by at least 60 percent and the BOM at least another 30 percent.

pcb flow

Given the importance of EM analysis in high frequency PCB design, NI AWR Design Environment also allows for multiple parasitic extraction technologies including third-party EM simulators such as ANSYS HFSS, Sonnet, and CST to operate within its EM Socket framework -- offering interoperability that is more robust and bi-directional. Customers have shown great enthusiasm for these latest PCB design solutions.

Readers are encouraged to learn more by exploring awrcorp.com/rf-pcb-design.