Electronic engineers can not do without those circuit design tools - knoweasy

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Electronic engineers can not do without those circuit design tools

August 23, 2021

EDA technology is a computer software system developed on the basis of electronic CAD technology, which refers to the automatic design of electronic products using computers as the working platform and integrating the latest achievements in applied electronics, computer technology, information processing and intelligent technology. Using EDA tools, the whole process of electronic products from circuit design, performance analysis to the design of IC layout or PCB layout can be processed automatically on the computer.

EDA common software

EDA tools are proliferating, and the EDA software that has entered China and has a wide impact are: protel, MentorPADS, OrCAD, Mentor WG, Mentor EN, allegro, EWB, PSPICE, Synopsys and so on. According to the main function or the main application, can be broadly divided into circuit design and simulation tools, PCB design software, IC design software, PLD design tools and other EDA software.

Electronic circuit design and simulation tools include.

SPICE/PSPICE, EWB, Matlab, SystemView, Multisim, MMICAD and so on. The following is a brief introduction to the first three software.

(1) SPICE: the circuit analysis and simulation software launched by the University of California, now more used PSPICE6.2, in the same product is the most powerful analog and digital circuit simulation mixed EDA software, it can carry out a variety of circuit simulation, excitation, temperature and noise analysis, analog control, waveform output, data output, and in the same window to display both Simulation results of both analog and digital circuits are displayed in the same window. Regardless of which devices and circuits are simulated, accurate simulation results can be obtained, and the components and component libraries can be built up by themselves.

(2) EWB software: The circuit simulation software launched in the early 1990s. Compared to other EDA software, it is a relatively small software (only 16M). But it is very powerful simulation of analog and digital circuits, almost 100% of the results of the simulation of the real circuit, and it provides a multimeter, oscilloscope, signal generator, sweeper, logic analyzer, digital signal generator, logic converter and voltmeter, ammeter and other instruments on the desktop. Its interface is intuitive and easy to learn and use. Many of its functions imitate the design of SPICE, but the analysis function is slightly less than PSPICE.

(3) MATLAB: one of its major features is that it has many application-oriented toolboxes and simulation blocks, including a complete set of functions for analysis and design of image signal processing, control system design, neural networks and other special applications. It has functions such as data acquisition, report generation and MATLAB language programming to generate independent C/C++ code.

PCB Design Software

There are many types of PCB design software, such as Protel/AD, OrCAD, Viewlogic, Cadence PSD, Mentor EN from Mentor, Mentor WG, and Mentor PADS series. Commonly used PCB design software and Zuken CadStart, Winboard/Windraft/Ivex-SPICE, PCB Studio, TANGO and so on.

Let's start with a few common series of tools under Mentor!

Mentor has three series of PCB design tools, which are.

Mentor EN series, that is, Mentor Board Station.

Mentor WG series, that is, Mentor Expedition.

There is also the PADS series, namely PowerPCB.

The above-mentioned Mentor PADS, which is the former PowerPCB/PowerLogic series, is the best low-end PCB software, its friendly interface, easy to use, powerful and favored by small and medium-sized enterprises, in the small and medium-sized users have a large market share.

The other two series Mentor EN series and Mentor WG series with Cadence Allegro, are currently the highest-end PCB software, such as ZTE, Huawei and other large companies will use these high-end design software.

Among them, Mentor Expedition (WG series) is the smoothest software for pulling lines, known as the king of pulling lines, its automatic wiring function is very powerful, wiring rules are designed very professional.

Mentor EN series is ported from the early UNIX system to the Windows system, is also the most professional PCB tool software, but its learning difficulties, self-learning, then it will be more difficult.

PADS series is relatively easy to use and quick to get started, flexible design, user freedom is also very high, very suitable for beginners and keen to self-learning groups.

Let's talk about Altium's Protel and AD

Protel/AD also has many college users, it has a complete all-round potential design system, including electrical schematic drawing, analog circuit and digital circuit mixed signal simulation, multi-layer printed circuit board design (including automatic layout of printed circuit board wiring), programmable logic device design, diagram generation, circuit table generation, support for macro operations, and has Client/Server (client/server architecture, but also compatible with some other design software file formats, such as ORCAD, PSPICE, EXCEL, etc..

Finally, let's talk about Cadence Allegro.

Cadence has Orcad/SPB/PSD and many other series, all three are based on capture and alegro PCB design suite from Cadence, the difference lies only in the software configuration.

Orcad configuration is the low-end products, there is the advantage of low price, but in Orcad Allegro's functions are relatively weak, only the basic functions and no constrain manager, if you need SI or constrain manager it, you need another increase in configuration.

PSD and SPB is actually the same thing, PSD is the early version of the Allegro system interconnect design platform, and then the new version called SPB, because the design concept has been improved, so the name of the package was modified.

From this, you should understand that SPB is the most full-featured version of Allegro.

Cadence Allegro is now almost the de facto industry standard for high-speed board design, adopted by many large electronic communication companies, so mastering Cadence Allegro has substantial help in job hunting; in addition, its learning resources are also More abundant, more suitable for self-learning.

Now Cadence's series of products are: Cadence SPB16.2, Cadence SPB16.0, Cadence SPB 15.7, Cadence SPB15.5, Cadence SPB15.2, etc. Board-level circuit design systems.

Cadence Allegro has now almost become the de facto industry standard in high-speed board design, and its learning resources are relatively abundant and more suitable for self-learning.

Someone once said of Cadence.

"Cadence is the de facto industry standard for high speed board design. The Cadence PCB Layout tool is absolutely top-notch, and after a little familiarity, you won't want to use other tools, and the wiring is superb. Simulation is also very bull, have their own simulation tools, signal integrity simulation, power integrity simulation can do. In doing pcb high-speed board firmly dominate the position. You know that 60% of the world's computer motherboard 40% of the cell phone motherboard can be drawn with Allegro."

IC design software

IC design tools are many, which are ranked by market share for Cadence, Mentor Graphics and Synopsys.

(1) design input tools: like Cadence composer, viewlogic viewdraw, hardware description language VHDL, Verilog HDL is the main design language, many design input tools support HDL. and state machine input methods, most of the tools for designing FPGA/CPLD can be used as input means for IC design, such as the development tools provided by Xilinx, Altera, etc., Modelsim FPGA, etc.

2) Design simulation work: one of the biggest benefits of EDA tools is that you can verify whether the design is correct, almost every company's EDA products have simulation tools.

Verilog-XL, NC-verilog for Verilog simulation, Leapfrog for VHDL simulation, Analog Artist for analog circuit simulation. viewlogic's simulators are: viewsim gate level circuit simulator, speedwaveVHDL simulator, speedwaveVHDL simulator, speedwaveVHDL simulator, speedwaveVHDL simulator, speedwaveVHDL simulator. Mentor Graphics has a VHDL and Verilog dual simulator from its subsidiary Model Tech: Model Sim. Simulator). Now the trend is that major EDA companies are gradually using HDL simulator as a tool for circuit verification.

(3) synthesis tools: synthesis tools can turn the HDL into a gate-level netlist. Synopsys tools in this area has a greater advantage, its Design Compile is the industry standard for synthesis, it has another product called Behavior Compiler, which can provide a more advanced synthesis. In addition, the U.S. also has a software called Ambit, which is more efficient than Synopsys' software and can synthesize 500,000 gates of circuits faster. However, Ambit has been acquired by Cadence, for which Cadence abandoned its original synthesis software Synergy.

With the increasing scale of FPGA design, the EDA companies have developed a comprehensive software for FPGA design, the more famous ones are: Synopsys FPGA Express, Cadence Synplity, Mentor Leonardo, these three FPGA comprehensive software accounted for the majority of the market.

(4) layout and wiring: in the IC design layout wiring tools, Cadence software is relatively strong, it has many products for standard cells, gate arrays have been able to achieve interactive wiring. The most famous is Cadence spectra, it was originally used for PCB wiring, and then Cadence used it for IC wiring.

Its main tools are: Cell3, Silicon Ensemble - standard cell wiring device; Gate Ensemble - gate array wiring device; Design Planner - layout tools. Other EDA software development companies also provide their own layout and wiring tools.

(5) Physical verification tools: physical verification tools include layout design tools, layout verification tools, layout extraction tools and so on. This aspect Cadence is also very strong, its Dracula, Virtuso, Vampire and other physical tools have a lot of users.

6) Analog circuit simulator: The simulator mentioned earlier is mainly for digital circuits. For simulation tools of analog circuits, SPICE is commonly used, which is the only choice. HSPICE is now acquired by Avanti. Among the many SPICE, the best and most accurate is HSPICE, which has the most models and the highest accuracy of simulation for IC design.

PLD design tools

PLD (Programmable Logic Device) is a kind of digital integrated circuit that users can construct their own logic functions according to their needs. There are two main types: CPLD (Complex PLD) and FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array). Their basic design method is to generate the corresponding target files with the help of EDA software, using schematics, state machines, Boolean expressions, hardware description languages, etc., and finally to be implemented by the target device using a programmer or a download cable. There are many manufacturers producing PLDs, but the most representative PLD manufacturers are ALTERA, Xilinx, and Lattice.

PLD development tools are generally provided by the device manufacturer, but as the size of the device continues to increase, so does the complexity of the software, and powerful design software is now available from specialized software companies in cooperation with the device manufacturer.

PLD (Programmable Logic Device) is a new type of circuit that can completely replace 74 series and GAL, PLA, as long as you have the foundation of digital circuits and can use a computer, you can carry out the development of PLD. PLD's online programming capabilities and powerful development software, so that engineers can complete the work in a few days, or even a few minutes to complete the previous weeks, and can be integrated into a complex design of millions of gates. PLD technology has become a must-have for electronics engineers in developed countries.

PLD production and development tools.


(1) ALTERA - the 1990s after the rapid development of the 20th century, after the acquisition by Intel. The main products are: MAX3000/7000, FELX6K/10K, APEX20K, ACEX1K, Stratix, etc.. Its development tools-MAX+PLUS II is a more successful PLD development platform, and the latest launched Quartus II development software. Altera provides more forms of design input means, binding third-party VHDL synthesis tools, such as: synthesis software FPGA Express, Leonard Spectrum Altera provides more forms of design input means, bundled with third-party VHDL synthesis tools such as: synthesis software FPGA Express, Leonard Spectrum, simulation software ModelSim.

(2) XILINX-FPGA inventor. The product range is complete, mainly: XC9500/4000, Coolrunner (XPLA3), Spartan, Vertex and other series, and its largest Vertex-II Pro device has reached 8 million gates. Development software is Foundation and ISE. generally speaking, more people use Xilinx in Europe, more people use ALTERA in Asia Pacific, and it is evenly divided in the United States. More than 60% of the global PLD/FPGA products are provided by Altera and Xilinx. It can be said that Altera and Xilinx jointly determine the development direction of PLD technology.

3) Lattice-Vantis Lattice is the inventor of ISP (In-System Programmability) technology, which has greatly contributed to the development of PLD products, and compared to ALTERA and XILINX, its development tools are slightly inferior to those of Altera and Xilinx. Altera and Xilinx are slightly inferior. Small and medium scale PLDs are more distinctive, and large scale PLDs are not competitive enough (Lattice does not have large scale FPGAs based on lookup table technology). 1999 saw the introduction of programmable analog devices, and in 1999 acquired Vantis (formerly an AMD subsidiary), becoming the third largest supplier of programmable logic devices. December 2001 saw the acquisition of Agere (formerly Lucent Microelectronics Division)'s FPGA division in December 2001. Main products are ispLSI2000/5000/8000, MACH4/5.

(4) ACTEL-The leader of anti-fuse (one-time burn-in) PLD, which has greater advantages in military and aerospace grade because of anti-fuse PLD's radiation resistance, high and low temperature resistance, low power consumption and high speed. altera and XILINX are generally not involved in military and aerospace grade market.

(5) Quicklogic-Professional PLD/FPGA company, with one-time anti-fuse process, not much sales in China.

6) Lucent - The main feature is that there are a lot of dedicated IP cores for communication field, but PLD/FPGA is not Lucent's main business, and few people use it in China.

(7) ATMEL - has been acquired by Microchip, small and medium-sized PLD is doing well. ATMEL also made some pieces compatible with Altera and Xilinx in the early years, but there are still some gaps in quality with the original manufacturers, less used in high-reliability products, mostly used in low-end products.

8)Clear Logic-produces chips compatible with some famous PLD/FPGA majors, this chip can solidify the user's design at once, not programmable, and the cost is lower when mass production.

(9) WSI-produces PSD (microcontroller programmable peripheral chip) products. This is a special PLD, such as the latest PSD8xx, PSD9xx integrated PLD, EPROM, Flash, and support ISP (online programming), high integration, mainly used to work with microcontrollers.

Other EDA software

1) VHDL language Ultra High Speed IC Hardware Description Language (VHSIC Hardware DeseriptionLanguagt, VHDL for short), is a standard design language of IEEE. It originated from the U.S. Department of Defense proposed Very High Speed Integrated Circuit (VHSIC) program, is a major input tool for ASIC design and PLD design.

(2) Veriolg HDL is a hardware description language introduced by Verilog, which is equal to VHDL language in ASIC design.

3) Other EDA software such as tools dedicated to microwave circuit design and power carrier tools, PCB fabrication and process flow control, and other areas will not be introduced here.

Before the end of the article is coming to an end, then introduce Saber software!

Saber is a mixed-signal, hybrid technology design and verification tool, widely used in power electronics, digital-analog hybrid simulation, automotive electronics and mechatronics.Saber software maintains clear advantages in technology, theory and new product development, and its large number of device models, advanced simulation techniques and accurate modeling tools provide customers with a comprehensive system solution in and in technology Saber's modeling tools are used extensively.

Saber's modeling tools are widely available for power, electromechanical, magnetic, thermal, load, etc. Saber also has a unique approach to design and verification: Top-Down Design and Bottom-Up Design. "(Bottom-Up) simulation and verification methods. After a demonstration of the modeling approach, a demonstration of the hybrid technology design approach, and a demonstration of the cable design (from electrical design to cable production) flow, Johnson demonstrated single-failure mode simulation debugging; multi-failure mode simulation debugging of critical and non-critical parameters, showing the power of Saber's simulator Testify.

The typical case of Saber is the system design in the field of aircraft, whose whole design process includes the design and simulation of complex mixed technologies such as mechanical technology, electronic technology, hydraulic technology, fuel system, entertainment system, and radar wireless technology. From aircraft, ships, cars to consumer electronics, power supply design can be done by Saber.

In switching power supply design, if there is a transformer, saber simulation is the best, transformer model is more complete. saber simulation now the main problem is that there is no textbook. It is not convenient to learn.

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