Astra Microwave Products Limited

Astra Microwave Speeds Up MMIC Component Design With NI AWR Software

Company Profile

Astra Microwave Products Limited (AMPL), a company founded in 1991, is a leading Indian designer and manufacturer of high quality RF and microwave modules and sub-systems used in defense, space, telecommunication, and meteorology applications. In addition, AMPL offers services from concept to completion, including design, development, fabrication, and testing. Using state-of-the-art infrastructure and advanced testing facilities including environmental stress screening (ESS) equipment, AMPL offers a one-stop solution for customers.

The Design Challenge

AMPL was designing two critical components for transmit/receive modules used in active phased-array radars. In particular, AMPL needed to design a unique S-band gallium arsenide (GaAs) monolithic microwave integrated circuit (MMIC) digital phase shifter with a higher number of bits, as well as an S-band GaAs MMIC digital attenuator. 

For the phase shifter, it required very low RMS phase and amplitude error, with a phase resolution of 1.425 degrees and total phase states of 256 over 360 degrees. 

For the digital attenuator, AMPL designers sought to ensure the lowest RMS attenuation error and best attenuation accuracy possible. 

The Solution

AMPL designers chose NI AWR Design Environment™ for their S-band component designs because it provides the best user interface for RF/microwave-based MMIC circuit design. Microwave Office software gave the designers an incredible advantage by speeding up the layout process; any changes made in the layout were automatically updated in the schematic with updated simulation results, since the schematic and the layout use the same database. The AXIEM 3D planar EM simulator provided the ability to do EM simulation and optimization of the entire structure, enabling the designers to avoid coupling in the layout. In addition, the scripting capabilities and equation scripts of the APLAC harmonic balance simulator enables the designers to simulate and design nonlinear circuits like mixers and high-power amplifiers. It supports all the foundry models, delivery better simulation accuracy.

Why NI AWR Design Environment

AMPL chose NI AWR Design Environment because it is a powerful tool for MMIC design and at the same time reduces design cycle time. It has an intuitive user interface and is extremely user friendly when compared to other EDA software tools. Productivity, ease of use, simulation speed, availability of models, and innovative technologies are all key benefits of the software for AMPL. The most positive feature of NI AWR software cited by AMPL was an improved MMIC design flow that delivered a reduction in simulation time yet better accuracy with simulation results.