Wireless Systems Design

Offering Merges Design And Test

This connected solution breathes new life into the design, development, and test of wireless systems.

Many design-automation vendors have sought to ease wireless-product development through a streamlined design and verification process. Luckily for wireless engineers, Agilent Technologies has succeeded. This month, the Agilent EEsof EDA division comes to market with the latest version of its popular Advanced Design System (ADS) platform—ADS 2002C. The new version flaunts some pretty impressive capabilities. But what really makes this announcement stand out is the innovative design and verification approach that it touts. Known as Connected Solutions, this approach has its basis in the ADS and Ptolemy components, as well as Agilent's instrumentation expertise (FIG. 1).

What exactly is Connected Solutions? It is the integration of Agilent's EDA software (ADS) and specific Agilent instrumentation (signal generators and signal analyzers) into a solution that enables new design and verification capabilities. Connected Solutions merges the physical and virtual worlds. It blurs the line between simulation and measurement, and allows the sharing of signals, measurements, algorithms, and data seamlessly between the two domains. Connected Solutions can be applied up and down the product development chain to customize, optimize, and verify designs more quickly and cost effectively.

This is good news for the engineer working with wireless networks, like IEEE 802.11a/g. With Connected Solutions, the engineer can, for example, guarantee the quality of the ACPR or EVM, and even test for packet error rate. These tests can all be done with various test projects available in the ADS 2002C wireless design and verification libraries. If the tests come back okay, the user has the confidence that he or she needs to go to fabrication. The results also may help the engineer make certain decisions, such as the choice of a particular off-the-shelf power amplifier to be mated to an RF/baseband design under test. Designers can even experiment with future standards, like 4G.

ADS 2002C is tailored to the engineers designing communications products like mobile phones, wireless local-area networks (WLANs), point-to-point radios, radar, and SATCOM products. The platform boasts a host of new features that help streamline the design process, improve time-to-market, and mitigate overall design risk. For starters, it's been optimized for a top-down/bottom-up system and circuit design process. This allows engineers to utilize a common design environment and easily transport IP on both Unix and PC platforms. Also, features for system verification and integrated electromagnetic (EM) co-simulation/optimization have been enhanced.

An advanced harmonic-balance capability analyzes a large number of fundamentals and harmonics, while an integrated Krylov solver guarantees both speed and capacity. A "transient assist" enables robust convergence.

Aside from the frequency-based simulator tools, such as harmonic balance, the simulators in ADS 2002C go beyond the steady-state analysis by providing a time-based capability to analyze dynamic-circuit performance. Patented Circuit Envelope simulation technology and SPICE/convolution may be used to analyze these dynamic-circuit problems. Circuit Envelope can analyze circuits with complex modulation, as well as enable the co-simulation of system-level design circuits. This capability speeds up complex-modulation simulation, especially for communications standards which utilize closely spaced carriers/subcarriers or time steps.

Also available in the ADS 2002C release are design and verification libraries that contain application-focused design blocks and test benches. With the test benches, the designer can test to specific revisions of the most popular wireless standards.

Significantly, the release also flaunts a TD-SCDMA wireless design and verification library and links to the Signal Studio software tool. This allows the importation of Agilent instrumentation IP into ADS. TD-SCDMA is a new standard promising to bring a communications infrastructure to China.

The built-in links from the embedded 89600 vector-signal-analyzer software and shared IP exemplify some of the ways that ADS provides accurate, consistent signal-format correlation throughout the product-development cycle. This aspect is crucial, because today's wireless designers want to use the latest available communications standards for their signal generation. They also want analysis that's generated by a reputable source. Designers want to be sure that the algorithms they use to generate and analyze signals are the same in both the simulation and test environments.

The Agilent 89600 VSA software, which runs within the ADS environment and links to Signal Studio, helps to eliminate these worries. A new feature inside the Signal Studio environment even allows the user to output a specially encrypted file. This file can be imported into ADS Ptolemy and placed into a component. That component can then generate the appropriate signal format within the ADS environment.

Taking either a system-design or verification approach, today's wireless systems designer can bring the ADS 2002C and its connectivity to the test world in a variety of ways. The Connected Solutions aspect of ADS 2002C offers an even greater array of uses. Engineers can, for example, verify or test their ADS circuit or system design with actual hardware components. That's because the ADS instrumentation-connected solutions allow test to be brought into the design space and external hardware to enter the simulation arena (FIG. 2). Such capabilities include the block substitution and simulation of hardware into the design, as well as troubleshooting and debugging using virtual/real signals interchangeably.

ADS 2002C is available now. Connected Solutions applications can be accessed if the user owns both ADS and specific Agilent instruments. ADS 2002C has a starting price of $8,400 (U.S. list).

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