Evolving at the Speed of Software

Oct 27, 2014 | Posted by: Sherry Hess

At NIWeek 2014, Dr. Salvo took the keynote stage to comment on the Industrial Internet in the "systems age," which has superseded the information age. He shared that systems are critical in order to make decisions in real time, especially in the midst of trends like software disruption, data analytics and global distribution. What Dr. Salvo was really pointing out is that the physical world is evolving at the speed of software as the Industrial Internet—Internet of things (IoT), Machine 2 Machine—pushes the boundaries of minds and machines.

With a significant portion of my career spent in EDA software, Dr. Salvo’s statement resonates because I’ve personally witnessed that the evolution of software is to make customers/consumers more productive and efficient.

With the IoT, software is the connective tissue that makes it function or fizzle. This is a particularly exciting development that professionals in EDA have been hoping to see for a long time - software is taking center stage. But, how can we continue evolving technology at the speed of software? What does this mean? In the microwave and RF industry, EDA tools empower design engineers to get their products (circuits, systems and subsystems) to market faster and more reliably. How are these software providers evolving their tools to help the microwave and RF design community?

One way is with technology integration and automation. This typically goes beyond the walls of a single company as customers demand improved software efficiencies from their tools. It involves partnerships often amongst competitive tool vendors.

Closer to home, I can attest to our own initiatives within NI AWR Design Environment™ software. We are removing barriers that our software users/designers previously faced when moving from one disparate tool to another in order to construct their own design flows/environments to meet their evolving needs.

For example, we recently announced a partnership with ANSYS to integrate the ANSYS HFSS full-wave EM field simulation tool into Microwave Office high-frequency circuit design software. This was inspired by customer requests to eliminate duplication across the two tools when optimizing the design engineer’s time invested.

Additionally, our cooperation with Cadence for the past few years has led to bidirectional RF printed circuit board (PCB) design between the NI AWR Design Environment and Cadence Allegro PCB Editor.

Software design tools will continue to develop and evolve to support new processes, materials and design methodologies. As a result, there will be greater expectations for EDA tool vendors to integrate and cooperate to ensure that the design environment utilized by our microwave and RF engineers is as efficient as possible. From my vantage point, the future looks bright... EDA will be leading the way for the microwave and RF design community to evolve at the speed of software.