NI AWR Design Environment
Legrand develops integrated systems on printed circuit boards (PCBs) for the consumer electronics market. Demand for smaller gadgets with more features and capabilities presents daunting challenges for PCB designers, who must incorporate those features and capabilities within extremely strict size constraints, and at the same time ensure that all the elements within the system work properly alone and in conjunction with each other.
In response to critical need by customers such as Legrand for a fast, accurate 3D planar simulation tool, AWR recently introduced AXIEM®, the industry's first software to deliver EM analysis as a true upfront design technology. It overcomes the traditional stumbling block of existing EM simulators by using a unique meshing technology to deliver, without the need for trade-offs, the key capabilities of speed, capacity, and accuracy. With AXIEM, designers are now able to run simulations in a fraction of the time it has normally taken, and therefore to implement EM simulation where it can help the most-at the beginning of the design flow where it can diagnose issues early and significantly shorten the process to a successful design.
As a premier customer and early adopter of AWR's software and innovative technologies, Legrand was eager to put the new AXIEM simulator to the test. In order to get an idea of how the new tool would perform, Vincent Grigis, RF engineer at Legrand, created several test structures. All of the structures were fabricated on FR4, and were embedded in such a way as to very closely match the structures being simulated. According to Vincent, the three main advantages of AXIEM compared to existing EM simulators are 1) open boundary, which provides better accuracy, 2) conformal, hybrid mesh, which enables faster simulation, and 3) the ability to deliver accuracy and speed even when taking thick metal into account.
"The results of the AXIEM simulation proved to be highly accurate when compared to the measured results," said Vincent. "In addition, it was interesting to observe the additional accuracy benefit when the actual copper thickness was taken into account." For one such test structure, a microstrip circular spiral, AXIEM simulated in seconds when thickness was ignored and when thickness was added, the simulation time was a few minutes, significantly faster than Legrands' existing EM solution.
In a second test, the designer simulated a PCB with the inductor on both sides, leveraging AXIEM's unique meshing ability. Again, AXIEM returned very good results when the thickness of the copper was taken into account. In comparison to Legrand's regular EM tool, AXIEM was more than 10x faster when simulating the same structure and delivered significantly better accuracy as well.
"AXIEM gives good results when all factors are taken into account," commented Vincent. "Using machines with 4Gb of memory, we believe it will be possible to simulate very large structures in a short amount of time with great accuracy. We are very pleased with AXIEM's performance results in our preliminary evaluation, and we are already in the process of integrating the new tool into our overall design flow. We are excited about AXIEM's potential to cut our design time, streamline our flow, and positively impact our bottom line."